An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links to Mythologies,
Fairy Tales & Folklore, Sacred Arts & Sacred Traditions
by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.

[Also see Myth*ing Links'  page on 2010-2011 Lunar New Year of the Tiger;
also General Data on Lunar New Year]
3 January 2010: this page is double-listed under Animal Guides and Seasonal.]

The Tiger in Art,
Literature & Culture

Chinese Tiger / Dragon
[See directly below]

Here are excerpts about the Zodiac meanings of the Chinese tiger, yang ruler of earth-beasts as well as the Guardian Spirit of Agriculture.  The dragon, yin ruler of the sky-beasts, may also represent the Drought Demon in this painting (unfortunately, the text is unclear on this issue):
The Tiger, the third sign of the Chinese zodiac, is thought of as ruler of the beasts on Earth in contrast to the Dragon which is ruler of the beasts of the sky.... The Chinese Tiger is a yang animal and is associated with a potent male principle of courage, bravery, dignity and sternness. It is sometimes known as "king of the mountains" and it is said that it has the power to drive away demons....

In ancient China the Tiger was the principle animal god and was known as the Guardian Spirit of Agriculture that was believed to devour the Drought Demon....

I found the following beliefs quite interesting -- that tigers eventually turn white and that amber is the manifestation of a tiger's spirit:
It was believed that Tigers turned white after 500 years, could live 1000 years and that upon the Tiger's death its spirit entered the earth and became Amber, in fact the original Chinese term for Amber was "Soul of the Tiger".
The Chinese Tiger is also associated with Tsai Shen, The God of Wealth.
In the Chinese zodiac, as the above makes clear, the tiger is viewed as Yang (male) and the dragon is Yin (female).  In Taoism, however, as we'll see directly below, the dragon represents the indispensable male element of Yang and the tiger is the indispensable female element of Yin.
[Added 1/26/09 for Ox year, updated 18 January 2010 for Tiger year]: This is "Taoism and the Arts of China" by Thomas Christensen. Written for San Francisco's famous Asian Art Museum, this scholarly article from 2001 is well illustrated and rich with insight. (It should be noted that Christensen's spellings differ from what we are used to: thus, Lao-Tse is Laozi and Tao Te Ching is Daode jing.)

The essay opens with a excellent and lively introduction to Taoism:

How can we understand Taoism? It appears at first to be a school of philosophy, but then we learn that ordained Taoist priests, wearing formal robes, perform prescribed rituals before precisely laid-out altars. It seems firmly rooted in humanism, but then we discover that it boasts an extensive pantheon of deities who populate an elaborate network of heavens. It seems to address in the broadest terms the most general questions, but then we find that its theories are detailed in volumes of painstaking minutia. It may appear as a religion, but then it manifests itself as a system of alchemy, of medicine, of geomancy, of astrology, or in any number of bewildering forms.
Some distance into the essay comes this relevant passage on the tiger in Taoism:
...To some extent, Taoism can be viewed as championing of the virtues of yin in the face of Confucianism's emphasis on yang.

Today the symbol of yin/yang is the taiji diagram (fig. 6), but it did not appear in a Taoist context until the Song dynasty (960–1279). Before that time, yin was represented by the tiger and yang by the dragon; this convention dates at least from the Zhou dynasty (approx. 1050–256 BCE) and probably from the Neolithic. The tiger and dragon are often found as a paired motif in Taoist iconography. "In addition to symbolizing yin and yang, the tiger and dragon also symbolize west and east, and the elements (or phases) fire and metal. In Taoist chemical alchemy (waidan, or "outer" alchemy), the tiger and dragon also represent two of the most powerful elixir ingredients known, lead and mercury, while in the Inner Alchemy (neidan) tradition, the two animals symbolize yin and yang as they are brought together in the inner (human) body through visualization and transformed to create a divine embryonic form of the practitioner" (Stephen Little).

The essay as a whole is engaging and well worth reading.

Doan (Yamada Yorikiyo), Japanese
Tiger and Dragon, ink on paper, around 1560
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts
(See directly below)

This is from Artsmia, an educational site created by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.  The page examines the Tiger/Dragon, Yin/Yang pair as it appears in the above example of Zen art.  Here are a few excerpts:
... a dragon shoots into view from a swirling cloud. His motion whips the water below into wild waves. The dragon opens his mouth to roar, as tufts of hair and whiskers fly in all directions.

... a tiger crouches low to the rocky ground. Steady and strong in the wind that bends the bamboo behind her, she silently eyes the dragon in the heavens. Not even her whiskers twitch....

...The screens illustrate why these two animals, both of them powerful and strong, are fitting symbols for yin and yang.

The tiger crouches low to the rocky ground, a sign that the yin earth is the tiger’s territory. Plants bend in the force of the wind, said to be created by the tiger’s mighty roar. But the tiger’s strength is a quiet power, held in her taut muscles. The dragon, on the other hand, is full of active energy. His head rises out of the yang heavens. His energy causes rain clouds to swirl and waves to form. But the tiger and dragon seem evenly matched. One will not dominate the other, just as the forces of yin and yang balance each other in the universe.

The ancient Taoist idea of yin and yang, and the symbolism of the tiger and dragon, came to Japan from China. The ideas had been absorbed into a form of Buddhism based on meditation, known as Chan in China and Zen in Japan. Zen appealed to the samurai warriors rising to power at the end of the 12th century. The simplicity and self-control of meditation was good training for the disciplined life of a warrior.

Warriors admired ink painting for similar reasons. It requires the simplest of materials, just ink, water, and paper. At the same time, it takes great control to use just one color—black, thinned to grays with water—to suggest a full range of tones, with just a few strokes. Once on the paper, a brushstroke cannot be changed....

The page also suggests interactive activities and poses questions designed to help students explore the topic more deeply.  Again, a very engaging site, for both young and old.
This is from the scholarly site, JSTOR -- it's always very frustrating for me when JSTOR comes up in googling because unless you're near a university or large library with the money to afford a subscription to JSTOR, you're stuck.  There's no way for an individual to get the actual article.  Regardless, here's the abstract, which at least gives a sense of what looks like a fascinating topic:
The Man-Hunting Tiger: From "Wu Song Fights the Tiger" in Chinese Traditions, by Vibeke Børdahl  © 2007 Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture.

The article takes as its point of departure a central story from oral and written genres of fiction: the tale of the hero Wu Song and his life-and-death struggle with the man-eating tiger on Jingyang Ridge in Shandong. In its Gilgamesh-like primordial resonance of the battle between man and nature, the story has kept audiences spellbound for about seven hundred years. The episode is among the most popular Chinese tales, told and retold, written and rewritten, in a wealth of oral, oral-related, and written genres since the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. While much has been said about Wu Song, the human hero of this tale, little attention has been given to his worthy opponent, the tiger. In this article the focus is on the King of Beasts, the Lord of the Mountain.

An html version of the pdf format of the above article from the Nanzan Institute for Religion & Culture
It's 28 January 2010, about 10 days after I wrote the above on JSTOR.  In going to the Nanzan Institute's page today and searching for Wu Song by Bordahl, I found the above html version of Vibeke Børdahl's article itself (22 pages, including several pages of footnotes & references).  Note: there are also a number of other pdfs among the 10 links at the search-site, but since I can't copy and paste from a pdf, the html link is the one I'm using.

I now know why China's Wu Song/Tiger Fight is so popular.  The tiger isn't humanized, nor do we share his thoughts.  What we have instead are Wu Song's graphic imaginings, from moment to moment, of what the tiger is experiencing.  Some might find Wu Song's descriptions humorous, and depending upon an individual storyteller's technique, I can understand why this could be so. But the actual details are really, really chilling -- we are literally watching a tiger die brutally and horribly, blow by blow, kick by kick.

(See the article itself for many vivid translations of Wu Song's thoughts. They are painful to read and I don't want them on my webpage.)

It turns out that this fight with the tiger is only the episode with which the story opens. A passage from near the end of the article (p.157) clarifies the true focus here:

The meeting between the hero and the tiger on the mountain is the first major episode in Wu Song’s saga in the novel Shuihu zhuan. The rest of his story can be summarized as a series of encounters with beautiful and/or strong women, where he likewise manages to come out of each battle as a winner, in the sense that he resists sexual temptation....The code of the bandit-heroes held up sexual abstinence as a major virtue. The line between Wu Song’s fighting of the tiger and his fighting of women (and his own sexual feelings) seems an underlying, if not explicit, theme in the Shuihu zhuan (Porter 1989, 153–57). His cruelty and bloodthirstiness grows, however, wilder and wilder from one episode to the next. China’s famous erotic novel Jin Ping Mei or The Plum in the Golden Vase, Jin Ping Mei cihua...(1618), published eight years after the Rongyutangben of Shuihu zhuan, borrows the tiger tale with only slight rewriting to form its first chapter. The later happenings between Wu Song and his sister-in-law, the extraordinary beauty and “man-eater” Pan Jinlian..., famous for her tiny “lotus feet,” is taken over to furnish the warp for the weft in the rest of this novel (Hanan 1963, 26–29).  Already in Jin Ping Mei the parallel between the tiger and the sexually potent woman is suggested: “This book is an instance of a beautiful woman who is embodied in a tiger and engenders a tale of the passions....” It is also obvious that the mountain tiger is the less formidable of these two opponents. Conquering his own heart is a battle Wu Song wins only at the cost of losing an essential part of his human empathy....
It sounds like a powerful, cautionary tale which has deep worldwide relevance today, whether "the sexually potent woman," or "man-eater," be seen as herself, the tiger, or man's destructive, obsessive domination of the natural world around us.

 Tsuba (Sword Guard) with the Zen Monk Bukan
Edo period, 17th century
Artist: Tsuchiya Yasuchika
Brass; 3 1/8 x 2 7/8 in. (7.8 x 7.2 cm)
Kurokawa Institute for Ancient Cultures, Hyogo Prefecture
For a Metropolitan Museum of Art Exhibit
[See directly below]

This is from the recent (21 October 2009 - 10 January 2010) Metropolitan Museum's special exhibition, "Art of the Samurai: Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156–1868."  The sword-guard depicts a tiger peacefully sleeping at the feet of the dozing monk, Bukan.   Here is the page's too-brief description:
Bukan, who lived in China during the Tang dynasty, is said to have traveled on the back of a tiger he had tamed, the animal's ferocity having yielded to the monk's virtue. The artist who made the piece, Yasuchika (1670–1744), is esteemed for his depictions of people and landscapes that are at once realistic and lyrical and avoid an excessive display of technique.
The museum's page offers a much larger view as well as a view of the flora artwork on the reverse side of this sword-guard.
This page offers a large version of the British Museum's "Tigers crossing a river" by Maruyama Okyo (1733 - 1795).  Here is the site's explanation of the legend behind this painting:
This six-panel Japanese folding screen depicts tigers crossing a river, inspired by an ancient Chinese legend: if a mother tiger gives birth to three cubs, it was believed that one is always a leopard (hyo). She has to be careful when crossing a river not to leave the ferocious hyo alone with the other cubs. Okyo was the most influential Japanese painter of his generation, and it is likely that he was assisted by his pupils, including his leading pupil Gen Ki.
I find it unclear how -- or why -- a tigress would birth a leopard cub along with 2 tiger cubs. It seems pointless. Also, the painting shows stripes on all the animals -- none is spotted, as a leopard would be. It's a splendid screen, however, even if the legend as outlined above seems to be missing crucial data.
This is a rare exhibit (ending 22 January 2010) of Princeton University's collection of Chinese shadow figures:
An exhibition of vividly painted and delicately carved Chinese shadow theater figures at Princeton's East Asian Library provides a window into an enduring art form as well as Chinese religious beliefs, literature and other cultural markers....

...[A] figure of a warrior rides a black tiger into battle; tigers appear frequently in the world and underworld in Chinese folklore....

...Tigers, the University's mascot since the 1880s, have appeared regularly in Chinese theater for centuries. The exhibition includes shadow figures of tigers and warriors and demons wearing tiger skins....

The page is well illustrated, although I would have liked to have seen more photos (as well as an enlarged version of delightful shadow-theatre scenes from "Journey to the West").
This is's well-told story about embroidered "tiger shoes" -- there's even a fine photo of a pair of such shoes. Here is how it begins:
Tiger shoes are commonly found on babies' feet in the countryside of China even today. The shoes are entirely made of cloth and their toe-caps are made into tiger's head. There is a popular story behind their long history.

Long ago, in the famous old town Yangzhou lived a boatman called Big Yang, who was very generous and ready to help others. Because of his charities, he got an old drawing as a present from an old female passenger. In the picture, a beautiful girl was embroidering a pair of tiger shoes. The boatman was very pleased with the gift. He liked the picture dearly. As soon as he got home, he put it on the wall above his bed....
This site for schoolage children offers printable multicultural stories by Norman Pitman to share with children during Chinese New Year.  I only had time to read "The Nodding Tiger," which at first I disliked until the author introduced a surprising turn and I wound up greatly appreciating it.  There's a lovely illustration by an unidentified artist midway through as well.
[Moved here from on 15 January 2011from 2010's Tiger Year page: it's cultural & thus more appropriate here]: For tigers in folk tradition, this very brief page from Cultural China looks at a pair of decorated tiger buns (as in baked goods <smile>), one male, one female, tied together with a red cord and playing a festive fertility-role in weddings in China's Shaanxi area.

Buddha-to-be and Starving Tigress and Cubs
1800 - 1899
Buddhist Lineage
Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection of Buryat Historical Museum
When I bookmarked this link a few weeks ago, it looked like a long page with a great deal of interesting tiger lore and tradition, including a touching version of a familiar Jataka Tale. The webpage came from an organization called "Save China's Tigers":
We summarize our effort as "Three Tigers": Spiritual Tiger, Cultural Tiger and Ecological Tiger.
I liked that three-fold approach and was looking forward to grokking the page.

Unfortunately, I now know, after spending over ten hours today exploring sites on Li Quan's project [see under "Endangered Tigers" section below], that "Save China's Tigers" is the foundation Li Quan started to promote her South China tiger project.  Thus, what looked like a fascinating site yesterday, arouses my suspicions today.  The lengthy page has no author's name and not a single source is given for all the data.  Is this original work or has it been cobbled together and plagiarized from other sites?  I have no idea and no longer care.

The one small piece that I read and liked a few weeks ago, however, is the familiar Buddhist Jataka Tale ("Previous Birth Story") about an earlier incarnation of the Buddha's in which he meets a starving tigress with her cubs.  I liked the version then and still do. So I will quote it in full and ignore the rest of the page:

The pre-existance of Buddha was the third Prince of Da che Kingdom.  His name was Sa Chui. One day, these three princes made a trip in the mountain and saw a tiger mother with several tiger cubs. The mother was so hungry that it had to eat its cubs. The Third Prince could not bear this. To save tigers' life, he decided to sacrifice himself. He lied to his brothers and pulled them away. Then he took off his clothes and jumped off the cliff to put himself in front of the tiger. But the mother tiger was too weak to bite him. So Prince Sa Chui went back on the cliff again and punctured his own throat by branch before he jumped off again. This time the hungry tiger could drink his blood and eat his body.

His two brothers waited and waited but didn't see their younger brother back, so they look for him back on the way. When they saw their younger brother was eaten up by the hungry tiger and there was only remains left, they cried to the body and fell into deep sorrow. At last they reported this to the King and build a temple to honour him.

Detail of Buddha-to-be and Starving Tigress and Cubs
1800 - 1899
Buddhist Lineage
Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection of Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts
Here's a briefer version of the tale with art from Mongolia, where the Buddha-to-be is a forest ascetic, not a prince:
The Starving Tigress: A Tale of Compassion, Selflessness, and Generosity.

Born into a family of Brahmans renowned for their purity of conduct and great spiritual devotion, the bodhisattva became a great scholar and teacher. With no desire for wealth and gain, he entered a forest retreat and began a life as an ascetic. It was in this forest where he encountered a tigress who was starving and emaciated from giving birth and was about to resort to eating her own new born cubs for survival. With no food in sight, the bodhisattva, out of infinite compassion, offered his body as food to the tigress, selflessly forfeiting his own life.  [Monty McKeever 2-2005]

[For those who would like to explore further, here is a link to text and the Tigress tale as painted on the outside of 6th century caves, especially Cave 428, Northern Zhou (557 – 580 Ce):
For Jataka Tales in general (including the Starving Tigress):
For a Thai variant of the Starving Tigress, with striking art:]
Also see below for excerpts from Khandro site.

Ancient Chinese Seasons
[See directly below -- a larger version is show on their webpage]
This is from StarLab, a firm that provides cylinders for their planetarium projectors. They have astronomical cylinders as well as those for constellations depicting worldwide ancient myths and legends. I'm not sure how it all works but it's a fabulous idea. I'm quoting the brief blurb on "Ancient Chinese Seasons" in full:
This vivid cylinder features the four beasts representing the ancient seasons: the White Tiger (autumn), the Black Tortoise (winter), the Blue Dragon (spring) and the Red Bird (summer). These beasts influenced every aspect of life of the Ancient Chinese. Each of these larger constellations contains smaller figures that serve as seasonal reminders.
Minimal data but a great, colorful graphic of Chinese constellations, only there's no way to identify them!  Still, it'll give you a sense of how different they are from the West's constellations. (Note: the page offers a search-function but I found the results unsatisfactory.)
This site from Mark Schumacher offers more in-depth insight into the above "Four Guardians of the Four Compass Directions."  The data comes from various sources, both online and from books (each scrupulously and clearly identified).  From left to right (rearranged to mesh with the above artwork):
White Tiger (Kirin) = West, Fall, White, Metal
Tortoise (Black Warrior) = North, Winter, Black, Water
Dragon = East, Spring, Blue/Green, Wood
Red Bird (Phoenix) = South, Summer, Red, Fire
The text (as noted, from various sources -- please see the site for details) explains:
At the heart of Chinese mythology are four spiritual creatures .... each guarding a direction on the compass. In China, the four date back to at least the 2nd century BC. Each creature has a corresponding season, color, element, virtue, and other traits. Further, each corresponds to a quadrant in the sky, with each quadrant containing seven seishuku, or star constellations (also called the 28 lunar mansions or lodges; for charts, see this outside site [note from KJ: excellent data at this hypertexted link on star-history, astrology, Big Dipper's role, etc but the actual charts are too reduced to make out Tiger and his mansions -- but see another link from this site further down]). Each of the four groups of seven is associated with one of the four celestial creatures. There was a fifth direction -- the center, representing China itself -- which carried its own seishuku....

...The pictorial theme developed around the Warring States to Early Han period in China. Frequently painted on the walls of early Chinese and Korean tombs, the animals served primarily an apotropaic function warding off evil spirits.....

...Each animal has its own color: the Dragon is the Green of Spring, the Bird the red of Fire, the Tiger of Autumn the glittering white of metal (of ploughshares or swords), and the Tortoise Black, for night, or water. The four celestial animals, which have no connection with the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, are also the names of the four divisions of the sky. The Dragon's Heart, the Pleiades, and the Bird Star are the names of three of the lunar mansions which marked the central position of the Dragon, Tiger and Bird. As there was no identifying star at the centre of the Black Tortoise, the appropriate place (the eleventh mansion) was called Void.”....

...[The White Tiger] [g]uards Buddha’s teachings and mankind; observes world with clairvoyance; corresponds to the season fall, the color white, wind, the element metal, and the virtue righteousness. Says Donald Mackenzie: "The White Tiger of the West, for instance, is associated with metal. When, therefore, metal is placed in a grave, a ceremonial connection with the tiger god is effected. According to the Chinese Annals of Wu and Yueh, three days after the burial of the king, the essence of the element metal assumed the shape of a white tiger and crouched down on the top of the grave. Here the tiger is a protector - a preserver. As we have seen, white jade was used when the Tiger god of the West was worshipped; it is known as 'tiger jade;' a tiger was depicted on the jade symbol. To the Chinese the tiger was the king of all animals and lord of the mountains, and the tiger-jade ornament was specially reserved for commanders of armies. The male tiger was, among other things, the god of war, and in this capacity it not only assisted the armies of the emperors, but fought the demons that threatened the dead in their graves."....

The site is beautifully illustrated and even has good links to bibliographic and online resources. The only cautionary comment I'd make is that if your browser (like mine) is missing Chinese and Japanese characters, limited portions of the page will display with a handful of ???????? marks.
Again from Mark Schumacher comes this page exploring the above-mentioned constellations/28 Lunar Mansions/Moon Stations in Japanese Buddhism. Excerpts:
An astrological grouping from ancient India...refers to 27 or 28 points that the moon passes through in one month and the associated star constellations found in the cosmic background. Each of these points (constellations) is associated with a deity, although the point-deity association varies among nations and sects. A similar grouping of 28 was developed independently in China. The Chinese merged their system with that from India following the introduction of Buddhism to China around the 1st and 2nd centuries CE. Unlike India, the grouping in China was always 28. It is the Chinese system that was imported by the Japanese. The 28 moon lodges or 28 lunar mansions (as they are often called in English) are divided into four clusters, with each cluster made up of seven constellations. The four clusters represent the four cardinal directions (north, south, east, west)....
On the tiger's role, here is a chart showing the tiger's 7 constellations (or lunar mansions) -- question marks indicate missing Chinese and Sanskrit characters:
Chinese | Meaning | Jp. Star Reading | Sanskrit Spelling | (Western Constellation)

1. ?, Stride / Foot, Tokaki Boshi, Revat? (Delta And, Andromeda)
2. ?, Hill / Lasso / Bellows, Tatara Boshi, A?vayuj or A?vin? (Beta Ari, Aries)
3. ?, Stomach, Ekie Boshi, Apabhara?? or Bhara?? (35 Ari, Aries)
4. ?, Stopping Place / United, Subaru Boshi, K?ttik? (17 Tau, 16 Tau, Pleiades)
5. ?, Net (related to Rain?), Amefuri Boshi, Rohi?? (Epsilon Tau, Taurus)
6. ?, Turtle Snout, Toroki Boshi, Invak? or M?ga?iras (Lamda Ori, Phi Ori, Orion)
7. ?, Investigate / Three, Kagasuki Boshi, B?hu / ?rdr? (Delta or Beta Ori, Orion)

As you can see, the Tiger's relevant seven "Lunar Mansions" involve a star in Andromeda, two in Aries, one in the Pleiades, one in Taurus, and two in Orion.
Note: the site also has fascinating data on the Big Dipper, the Pole Star as we know it, and the Pole Star as it was once found in the constellation Draco:
Around 1,800 BC, the celestial indicator (the “pole star”) was not the modern-day North Star (Polaris), but rather Thuban, a star in the constellation known as Draco or Dragon....
This material lies beyond my tiger-focus, however, so I will leave it for those who are interested in it to explore further.

This star chart shows the Tiger's realm which is held within relevant red-circle groupings of Western constellations (names abbreviated along the bottom) and numbers 15 through 21 running along the top.  The big and tiny stars in yellow are the relevant Chinese ones (skip the one at the upper far left -- it belongs to the next section).  In section 15 you can see 2 big ones. In section 17, one big and to its left within a funny "W" is a tiny one.  In section 18, one big.  In section 19, one tiny (in a little 3-star arc above Orion).  Section 20 seems to be only 1/4" wide -- I have no idea why -- but in section 21 is the 7th star, a big one in Orion's belt.  As noted, there's another big one in section 21right on the boundary with section 22 but, whatever it is, its line-signature connects it to a constellation in section 22 so it doesn't belong to the Tiger's realm. If you connect the 7 dots you get a curving line running upwards from left to right -- I have no idea if that is supposed to indicate the tiger's body, tail, or what.
From "China, the Beautiful" site, directly below
[Added 29 January 2010]: From "China, the Beautiful" comes another page on the constellations -- minimal data here but a great starmap.  I've spent many unsuccessful hours/day the past week trying to find an image of the Tiger with the above 7 constellations within him, or at least a composite star map showing familiar Greco-Roman constellations with an overlay of the Tiger.  This link doesn't have that but at least it shows that the Tiger is in a quadrant labeled #15-21, so I've cropped that portion and added it above. I'm beginning to think that there is no Tiger constellation, per se.  It might be that the Tiger and the other three Celestial Animals are the invisible rulers/guides/shamans of their own quadrants, each containing seven individual constellations/mansions.  In other words, they're beyond being constellations themselves.  They "own" seven constellations as overlords -- but they would seem to occupy a different plane than that in which their mansions lie.  (If I have this wrong, I hope someone with more expertise will write me.)
[Added 29 January 2010]: This is another page from the site that was hypertexted above on one of Mark Schumacher's pages.  It offers a large, colorful (almost gaudy) graphic that shows just the limited band in which the seven lie.  I enjoyed comparing it with the less specific but larger vista in the chart above.  The page also gives the Chinese characters along with Chinese and Japanese names for the 7 Tiger/autumn "Moon Stations."
I wasn't going to quote anything more from Li Quan's "Save China's Tigers" website but this page does provide good details on tiger lore that I haven't found elsewhere. Excerpts:
...The tiger is also associated with autumn, when it comes down from the mountains into villages, and is personified by the constellation Orion, which is prominent in autumn. In Chinese astrology, the star Alpha of the Great Bear constellation gave birth to the first tiger.... In southern China, on the tiger's birthday on the second moon in the lunar calendar, fixed in the Western calendar as March 6, women worship the White Tiger. They place paper images of the tiger in their homes to keep away rats and snakes and prevent quarrels. On this date, effigies of the tiger are also put in front of temple buildings for people to make offerings. The God of Wealth, the deified Marshal Chao Gongming (Ch'ao Kung-ming), is depicted riding a black tiger and holding a silver ingot. The Chinese call an able general a tiger general and a brave solider a tiger warrior....

As the enemies of evil spirits, especially those who torment the dead, tigers are carved on tombs and monuments. The Chinese system of feng shui (geomancy) requires that a burial site be higher on the right side, the stronger side of the body, so that the White Tiger can guard it; the Azure Dragon guards the left side, the body's weaker side....
Finally, still on starlore, this is an appealing little 12/22/2009 essay by Peter Lipscomb for The Santa Fe New Mexican, "Orion is a winter night's delight."  Here is an excerpt with a brief mention of the tiger's Chinese connection to the belt stars of autumn/winter's Orion:
Rising above the eastern horizon a few hours after nightfall is a constellation familiar to both casual and avid stargazers — Orion, the hunter. During the winter months, it is well placed in the southern sky giving us a chance to explore its celestial bounty.... Many cultures created stories about this conspicuous constellation.

In ancient Egypt, the star pattern was associated with Osiris god of death and the underworld. Some claim that the layout of the pyramids at Giza is an earthbound mirror image of Orion's belt stars. According to Chinese tradition, the belt stars are the Three Stars Mansion a domain of the White Tiger. A Latin American name for the asterism is Las Tres Marias. Star lore from France, South Africa and Holland share a common name for the belt stars — the three kings. In Finland, sky watchers link Orion with the scythe of potent and magical figure Väinämöinen because the constellation returns to the night sky during autumn harvest....

Miao-shan Carried off to Heaven by a Tiger
No artist given -- larger version on-site
(See directly below)
This is a very brief page from Cal State Pomona about a devout young Buddhist princess, Miao-shan, the youngest daughter of an emperor (see Khandro site below for a more fully developed version).  When she took refuge in a Buddhist convent to escape marriage, her furious father set the convent on fire. When this failed to change her mind, he ordered her executed.
...Because of her devotion to attaining buddhahood, she was carried off to heaven on the back of a tiger at the moment of her death....
As punishment, the heavens ravaged the cruel emperor with illness.
...Moved by compassion in spite of his treatment of her, Miaoshan healed him. Miaoshan evolved in Chinese history to become Kuan Yin, the bodhisattva of mercy....
Note: the site has a series of brief pages with fine, clickable images on Chinese "folk religion" -- here's the main page with an index:
I like this lengthy Khandro page because it offers such a wide array of great cross-cultural tiger lore from Asia.  Although Khandro's main focus is on Tibetan Buddhism, it starts with India:  the goddess Durga rides a tiger; Shiva and an earlier form, Rudra, both wore tiger skins.
Thus a tiger pelt was once the typical mat (Skt. asana) of the meditating yogin.  Now we are more conscientious and would never contribute to the rapid disappearance from the world of this impressive solitary animal....
(That comment is especially significant in light of what will be exposed much further down on this page.)

In the section called "Karmic Connections," there are some marvelous excerpts from Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche's Dharma Paths (Snow Lion Publications, 1992/2006) on what happened to the starving tigress and her cubs after the Buddha in an earlier incarnation gave his life for them (see other versions with Buryat and Mongolian art above). Here is a passage offering further details as well as deeper insights:

...In one of his previous lives, the Buddha was born as the youngest of three princes.  When he was only five years old, the three princes were in a forest playing together at hide-and-seek and other games.  As they were walking in the forest, they came to a cave where they saw a wounded female tiger with five cubs. The mother tiger was very weak and was unable to provide food for the baby tigers.  The Buddha's older brothers went to search for some food, and they asked the young prince to stay near the cave to take care of the mother tiger and the five cubs.

While the Buddha was taking care of the wounded tiger and her five cubs, he began to think that it was not proper to kill other beings and give their flesh to the tiger. He found some large thorns and pressed them into neck, and as the blood came out, he let the cubs and their mother suck the blood.  In fact, he gave his whole body to the five cubs and their mother as an act of generosity. As he did this, the Buddha prayed, "Right now I am only able to give temporary help to these starving beings, just removing their hunger. May these tigers who are enjoying my flesh, blood, and bones be reborn to a higher realm, and may I be able to teach them and lead them out of cyclic existence."....

A further excerpt from the book explains how the Buddha later meets the five cubs in his life as the Buddha. In the next section, "Generosity," yet another Tibetan story tells how the Buddha meets the re-born tigress and two of her cubs. Still other sections explore other Buddhist connections with tiger-companions.  A later section offers a much fuller, more detailed account of Miao-shan's life than the brief, entry-level version on the Cal State Pomona site above.
[16 January 2011: the following section of links and art were part of this original page from 2010.  It was inserted after the link for decorated tiger bun pastries and followed by the large "Buddha-to-be and Starving Tigress and Cubs" image.  This year, however, that sequencing seemed very confusing to me so I decided it needed to have its own special category, even though none of the other Chinese Zodiac animals will have such a category.]

South China Tiger
Discovery Channel's Animal Planet
(See below for bleak assessment of this magnificent species' continued existence;
also see further below in General Info section for excerpts from another site's "101 Facts")

This index-webpage is from the Discovery Channel's Animal Planet on "Tigers of the World." Once there were eight tiger species, but three went extinct over the past century. The photos of the five remaining are just staggering in their wild beauty.  One look at the Siberian (or Amur) tiger, for example, and I literally gasped.  I already felt a deep emotional bond with these creatures but, in that moment, it became instantly clear why the Buddha, in an earlier incarnation, would so willingly give up his life for a starving tigress and her cubs.

The data on this small series of pages is sparse but gripping, especially when read in the presence of the photos.  Here is what this first index page says:

Although critically endangered, wild tigers still prowl the border of India and Bangladesh — one of the most densely populated places on earth; the western Terai of India and Nepal; the untamed borderlands of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia; and the vast boreal forests of the Russian Far East.

How many roam is the million dollar question.

"Estimating the number of tigers in a population has always been a contentious issue," says John Seidensticker, chairman of the Save the Tiger Fund Council, and senior scientist at the National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institution. "Estimates provided by range countries are, in most cases, based on nothing more than optimism."

One thing for sure is that a century ago there were eight subspecies of tiger, all native to Asia. Now there are only five: The 1980s saw the last of the fearsome Javan tiger, a 250-pound animal that could take down 2,000-pound bulls. The Caspian tiger went extinct in the 1970s. And the last Bali tiger probably died in the 1940s.

That's it: clear, brief and to the point, but utterly damning when it comes to the human arrogance and greed that allowed this to happen over a single century.
...Continuing from the above Animal Planet index to the next webpage -- this one is specifically on the South China tiger, believed to have been the ancestress of all the world's tigers (see above for Animal Planet's stunning photo of a South China tiger; also see "101 Tiger Facts" further below).  Excerpts about this species from Discovery Channel's Animal Planet :
...As a subject of Chinese art and literature for 2,000 years, it is revered as a symbol of strength and power, as well as the living spirit of the nation's sacred mountains.

STATUS: Critically endangered ... the South China tiger was recently declared extinct in the wild by tiger researcher Ron Tilson [who] was invited in 2001 by China's State Forestry Administration to survey and photograph wild South China tigers. He found none, having visited eight reserves in four provinces from March to December.

Even if some individuals still survive in the wild, they do not constitute a viable population with a long-term future, according to the IUCN Cat Specialist Group. About 50 of this subspecies are alive in captivity in China, raised from a very small founder group. Extremely inbred, these tigers suffer from a serious loss of genetic diversity. The Cat Specialist Group advocates updating and implementing an existing master plan for the management of the captive population.

You will find more on this critically endangered, beautiful animal in links below -- but first don't miss the data and photos of the other four surviving tiger species on this Animal Planet site.

South Africa, 2007:
Li Quan with two South China tigers (behind fencing)
From Wikipedia (see below)
This is "Out of Africa, Into Uncertainty," by Kenneth Howe for The Wall Street Journal, 4 September 2003. This report concerning an ambitious project to save what few South China tigers remain shows just how painfully difficult the situation is. There are endless, heartbreaking problems, making the situation look hopeless.
...Don't tell that to Li Quan. Born in 1962, the Year of the Tiger, she's been mad about cats since she was a little girl. Now she's driving an ambitious, some say foolhardy, plan backed by the Chinese government to save Panthera tigris amoyensis--the South China tiger....
Unfortunately, the plan of this wealthy woman and her multi-millionaire husband (investment banker Stuart Bray) is to remove a number of cubs to safety in a South African eco-park, where they will be taught to live and hunt in the jungle, attract eco-tourism dollars to South Africa, and eventually be returned to an as yet nonexistent wild refuge in China (hopefully to breed with wild tigers, if any still remain---much evidence suggests they do not).  Her plan has been widely criticized worldwide by sympathetic, but saddened, even angry scientists because of the unintended consequences her good intentions might create in Africa.

Those scientists are quite likely 100% correct.  Well-meaning but reckless humans have too often moved precious fauna and/or flora from an indigenous environment to an alien one and thereby caused enormous damage, suffering, disease, death, and loss of habitat to the flora and fauna already there.  All it would take is for a stray spore, microbe, or internal parasite to get loose, or perhaps for an African mosquito to get infected by something alien in the blood of a weakened South China tiger.

.. [FYI: the male named Hope, one of the original four zoo-bred cubs chosen for this project, did sicken and die in South Africa. With his photo {shown} on a Wikipedia page are the sad details: "Hope, born on 17 February 2003, ....died on 20 August 2005 in South Africa. His autopsy report suggested that the primary cause of death was pneumonia and heart failure. Conclusion was that the tiger was suffering from immunosuppression, supported by the presence of opportunistic bacteria that are normally only found replicating in animals that are immune compromised.]

Continuing with the Wall Street Journal's report on the scientific opposition to this project:

...Naturalists argue that reintroduction should be done in the animals' natural environment -- for South China tigers, that's China, not Africa. Their catalogue of reasons is depressing: They warn of unforeseen ecological effects and unnecessary risks inherent in shipping the tigers to Africa--everything from transport hazards to transmittable diseases.

And even if the cubs do survive the trip to Africa, naturalists warn that their reintroduction into the wild in China might do little good. The cubs, along with China's 60-or-so other captive tigers, are all the offspring of just six or eight original tigers, so they're highly inbred--birth rates are low, mortality rates are high. In fact, some in the conservation community have already issued a "death certificate" for the South China tiger, and argue that limited conservation funds should be spent on tiger sub-species with a viable wild population, like the Bengal tiger.

"I can't think of anybody in the world of conservation who would tell you this is a good idea," says Judy Mills from the United States-based Conservation International, who has focused on saving tigers for nearly 20 years. "This is not science. It's not conservation. It could be a major biological disaster for Africa."...

Others are equally scathing. Chris Furley, veterinary director of Howletts Wild Animal Park in England, is a leading authority on wildlife reintroduction, with 15 years of experience overseeing release projects in Africa, such as returning captive lowland gorillas to the wild in the Congo. He was initially interested in Li's project, but changed his mind after flying to Beijing. "The whole thing is ridiculous," he says. "It doesn't make biological sense. Our strong feeling is it should be done in-situ."...

In the "101 Tiger Facts" below in my "General Information" section, the shocking, near-extinction of the South China tiger is attributed to the use of every part of a slain tiger's body in traditional Chinese medicine. This seems a grotesque practice, riddled with superstition.  Viewed simply from the energetic level, although a hair or two from a living tiger might have a genuine abundance of chi, prana, mojo, whatever, and thus validly energize a medicinal compound, body-parts from a dismembered and probably still very angry tiger are unlikely to have any healing value at all, especially not for someone from the same human species that butchered that tiger in the first place!  In the long-run, once past any placebo-effect benefit, the patient is likely to worsen (if anyone knows of any clinical or even anecdotal studies, I would appreciate knowing about them).

Unfortunately, however, slaughtering South China tigers for traditional Asian medicinals is a hugely successful money-making practice (and not just in Asia -- such "medicines" are also sold in Australia, Europe, the USA, and wherever else there are sizeable Asian populations).  This has been done for many centuries and tigers managed to survive.  Thus, at least originally, traditional Chinese medicine may indeed have contributed to the tiger's fate but it didn't cause it.  Of course, now we are long past a crucial tipping point and tigers are infinitely more vulnerable: further poaching will indeed doom them.  What finally tipped the balance? In China, the death knell was sounded, not by poachers or backroom purveyors of medicinals, but by a toxic political ideology:

...As late as 1959 there were an estimated 4,000 South China tigers in China, keeping alive a link with a creature long revered in Chinese folklore (up to three other tiger subspecies, the Siberian, Indochinese and--possibly--the Bengal, are also found in China). But then Mao Zedong started penning slogans like "Man Must Conquer Nature" and declared tigers and other predators vermin, leading to them being mercilessly hunted. Add in habitat destruction from the relentless tide of human-population expansion and illegal poaching, and the tiger's fate was sealed. It's now been at least 20 years since the last reliably confirmed sighting in the wild of a South China tiger (there have been plenty of unconfirmed reports). These days, even the most optimistic estimates put the wild population at no more than 30....
Lest the West, especially the United States, feel superior to the stupidity of Mao Tse-tung and Chinese communism with regard to environmental issues, we might look to the fate of our own majestic wolves (currently in 2010 being hunted with high-powered rifles from helicoptors in Alaska, for example) and to many other New World species, also being driven to extinction by toxic political ideology.  What's the point, one might ask, of the billions of dollars the United States spends to educate top scientists, if the average citizen then turns around and elects money-corrupted morons to make crucial environmental decisions with total disregard, even scorn, for scientific evidence?  At least where the environment is concerned, how much better off are we than China a half-century ago under Mao Tse-tung?  We have certainly forfeited the right to any smug self-righteousness.

To return to the Wall Street Journal report: problems developed not only with scientists opposed to this project, but also with the two Varty brothers handpicked to run it in South Africa:

... There was a very public falling out with the two South African brothers who had signed up to run the South African sanctuary. Dave and John Varty "pioneered the conservation development model using eco-tourism," according to Dave, and now run a veritable chain of upmarket wildlife lodges in Africa as well as a film-production company....  The brothers and Li are now battling things out in the South African courts, with Li accusing them of misusing funds and the Vartys accusing Li of defamation and intimidation. (Li has since secured a new partner, South Africa's National Zoo.)...
[FYI:Nomad Africa Adventure Tours provides an insightful March 30, 2003 report on the Varty mess, "Paper Tigers: South Africa." Working from great interviews and recorded telephone calls, a picture emerges of two very savvy brothers and two very gullible amateurs.  After initial discussions: "Stuart [Stuart Bray, Li Quan's multimillionaire investment banker husband] set up and guaranteed a credit facility in South Africa in the Vartys' name."  A contract was drawn up between the parties but never signed.  Thus, the deal was done with the equivalent of a handshake.  Millions are now alleged to have been skimmed by the Vartys.  What is so glaring is the complete and utter lack of responsible oversight when it came to finances -- and the financial world is Bray's home turf!  These are hardly Innocents Abroad being scammed by cunning foreigners. If they could be so careless in financial matters, how on earth can they be trusted to provide suitable oversight against potentially catastrophic blunders in the African environment? It boggles the mind.]

Again, back to the September 4, 2003 Wall Street Journal report: the first group of zoo-bred tiger cubs was supposed to be shipped to South Africa in September 2003.  They were to live, breed and be "re-wilded" in South Africa for five years while human populations in a planned Chinese tiger-refuge would be resettled, given new jobs, and the land would be restored to a more or less wild, pristine state:

...Wang Weisheng, director of the China Wildlife Research Centre, is the government spearhead. He asserts that in the world's most populous nation there's simply no room to rehabilitate an animal requiring a range of 20 square miles without first resettling people. By preparing tigers to live in the wild in South Africa, people won't need to be uprooted until at least 2008, by which time a model for eco-tourism will be in place. "This way we can resettle and find people jobs quickly," explains Wang, who says the pilot reserve could become China's first-ever national wildlife park....

Perhaps, but for successful reintroduction to take place, the nation must first cultivate a sense of environmental stewardship, which means preserving not only the tiger, but also the creatures it preys on--the antelope-like serow, wild boar and various species of deer--many of which are themselves endangered....

If there is little possibility of creating a healthy predator-prey balance (or trophic cascade -- see my page on the Wolf) because the tiger's prey animals are themselves endangered, this reduces the odds still further for any success!  Regardless, the resettling of rural Chinese people and the return of one or more tigers should have been completed by 2008 -- Li Quin's hope was that it would be in time for China's 2008 Olympics.

I am now [19 January 2010] attempting to find more recent updates on this situation.  I will post what I find below.........

.............................................Tiger Woods...........................................Tigress, Cathay..............................Tigress, Madonna in the Snow
All photos taken in South Africa, 2007
From Wikipedia (see further down)

......I found this 5 January 2010 report from London's Express, "My £12M Quest to Save Tigers" about Li Quan by Nigel Blundell.  She did go ahead with her plans, shipping out four cubs -- two females, two males, but, as noted above, Hope died in 2005.

From the remaining three tigers (shown above) were born seven new cubs, all sired by the same father (named "Tiger Woods" before current scandals). Of the seven, two of Madonna's died (one was stillborn, another died from infection and/or heart failure), and one, Huloo, was rejected by Cathay (that one was hand-raised and thus unsuitable for release into the wild -- but see below in the Wikipedia report, which contradicts any maternal rejection, a discrepancy between Li Quin's Express interview and whomever she assigned in 2007 to write the Wikipedia entry).

Thus, from the original cubs, there are now four new healthy offspring (three males, one female), two each from two different mothers, Cathay and Madonna, and the same father, Tiger Woods (there is another potential father, unnamed, but no offspring so far). Here is an excerpt:

...Li Quan, 46, says: “Breeding of the species had been attempted in China but without success. Chinese zoos have not bred any in the past three years – which doesn’t surprise me given the miserable conditions the tigers are kept in. So we came to South Africa because it is the leader in hands-on conservation projects and restoring species from the brink of extinction."

“We take tigers out of zoos, breed them and plan to release them back in the wild after retraining them in hunting skills. The tigers we have here – two males and two females – still belong to China. We are simply custodians of them, while raising money for the breeding programme and ensuring that a safe and suitable habitat awaits the return of their offspring.”

An agreement was signed with the Chinese government in 2002 to “rehabilitate” tigers, and two areas of Southern China – 150 square kilometres of hunan province and 100 square kilometres of Jiangsu province – have been earmarked for reserves....

As of early 2010, the return to China of the tigers seems at least two more years away.  No mention is made about whether the reserves in China have even been prepared yet.'s_Tigers
This September 2007 Wikipedia entry on this "Save China's Tigers" project starts with this notice:
This article is written like an advertisement. Please help rewrite this article from a neutral point of view....
Besides sounding like a commercial, some of the facts don't jibe with the two-week old London Express article above (e.g., the maternal rejection of Cathay's cub, Huloo, mentioned above).  I send those South China cubs all the best wishes in the world but Li Quan and her husband have enormous financial resources behind them and I've lived too long not to be suspicious of how much money can buy (like countless sympathetic articles on page after page of a google search).  In addition, the author of the Wikipedia entry takes on scientific opposition to the project by stating that no harm has come to the African eco-system because the tigers' fenced-in land had most recently been given over to sheepherding and thus wasn't really an African eco-system in the first place. Further, tigers prey on relations of the same animals as Africa's lions, so there should be no upset in environmental balances.

I'm not sure those arguments make sense and many questions still remain.  How were the sheep raised, for example?  What was done with their manure if these were huge sheep farming operations? Were the herds shot full of antibiotics and growth hormones that might still be contaminating land and water? Could those adversely affect the tigers' immune or other systems?  Can sheep pathogens infect tigers?  If so, how?  And how likely are they to mutate into a larger population of animals?

The breezy reassurance of the writer of this Wiki article is anything but reassuring.

I still haven't found a single report from a respected scientist who backs this African portion of the project.  The Wiki entry mentions several scientists who support the project but I notice that none of them has so far stepped up and rewritten "this article from a neutral point of view."  If Africa is indeed where the best experts in "re-wilding" are, I wonder why Li Quan didn't simply hire several of them and relocate them to China.  Were the project being done there, it would be applauded by tiger lovers everywhere.  I know the claim is made that it would take too long to prepare a large enough refuge -- but populous as it is, there must surely still be wilderness areas left. China mounted a spectacular, high tech Olympics in 2008. How difficult could a tiger refuge be in comparison with that monumental venture?

Instead, a time bomb might be ticking on the Lahou Valley Reserve in South Africa, about 600 km south of Johannesburg.  The google blurb for a too-sophisticated "flash" website that my computer can't access says that this reserve is on the banks of a river.  A river?!  That's a conduit for microbes and all manner of biological mischief. Aspects of this project are increasingly sounding more willful than wise.

I hope I'm wrong.

South Africa, late November 2007:
Cathay's newborn tiger cub, initially named Tiger, Jr., later renamed Huloo
[See "Tiger Tigris" link directly below]

About 5 hours after writing the above: see this Tiger Tigris link for the obviously proud author, "Tiger Tigris," of the Wikipedia article. Here, he (or she) announces the 23 November 2007 birth (with many good photos) of the tiger who would later be raised by hand -- he (or she) breathlessly starts the piece with this:

I was told to spread this to as many forums as possible and as soon as possible by Ms Li Quan, so here it is!! Cathay and Tigerwoods of Save China's Tigers has mated and Cathay had given birth to a cub, named TigerWoods jr....
Curiously, the London Express article said this cub was rejected by its mother and had to be hand-raised, but there is a different story here (also mentioned in the Wiki article above, since the author is the same):
Although Cathay displayed motherly instincts by cleaning her cub, project staff removed him because they feared he might die in the unseasonally cold weather. Eventually he will be returned to her but for now he can enjoy a bottle feed - blissfully unaware of the responsibility resting on him....
He (or she) later refers a reader to the Wikipedia entry:
You can go on to read the Wikipedia page on Save China's Tigers:
Don't worry, it is reliable, everything there was typed word by word, by me!
An "advertisement" indeed.  I'm not a great fan of Wikipedia -- I like to know an author's name so that I can give her/him credit -- that's just me.  But I do respect the people running Wikipedia for trying to make their site as credible, honest, and "encyclopedic" as possible and I'm often quite surprised and impressed by the calibre of pages I've explored.  Thus, it's troubling that the media-savvy Li Quan would deliberately subvert Wikipedia's policies by assigning a minion to write a glowing advertisement posing as a legit entry.  If she lacks the good sense to play fair with Wikipedia, how can she be trusted to take risks in Africa's ecosystem?
From 26 November 2007, comes a fuller description of the Lahou site in Africa (unfortunately, no mention of the river, which is what I'm still trying to locate).  This is the wild game that was added to the 17 former sheep farms bought up by Li:
...Laohu Valley Reserve covers 330 square kilometers of land in both the Free State and Northern Cape Provinces. There are more than 10 species of endemic game on the reserve including blesbok, eland, springbok, black wildebeest, zebra, ostrich, gemsbok, as well as some small predators such as jackal, caracal and African wild cat.
Finally, the river!  This is an 11 September 2008 report, "Tigers in Africa?," by Janine Erasmus for the Media Club of South Africa.  It's the most balanced account I've seen so far (although there's nothing about possible biological risks to Africa).  Here, the timeframe for returning the tigers to China, originally 5 years, has now been tripled to 15.  Unfortunately (with no explanation), it turns out that the original tigers being re-wilded will not join the cubs in the new tiger reserve after all -- instead, they're slated to be returned to their previous zoos!  I find this appalling. What on earth will a return to such captivity mean to those beautiful animals? Why the change in plans?

And, the river is also identified as "the Orange River, South Africa’s largest"-- probably not good news if one is concerned about waterborne problems:

...Li plans to return all the South African-born tigers to China within 15 years, but her medium-term goal is to send at least one animal to its new home by the end of the decade. The original tigers will return to zoos, having passed on their newly-acquired hunting and survival skills to their offspring, who will grow up as wild tigers.

Laohu Valley Reserve was established near the small town of Phillipolis in the Free State by Li and her husband, fellow Wharton alumnus and investment banker Stuart Bray, who bought the land for her. It spans 33 000 hectares in both Free State and Northern Cape provinces, with the Orange River, South Africa’s largest, running through the property. The reserve is only open to staff, donors and volunteers....
This site further questions motives and honesty behind Li Quan's South China tiger project.  My own sense of these issues, after spending many hours today exploring these sites and others, is this: if the South China tiger is indeed "functionally extinct," which is what many respected scientists have stated, this project unfortunately has no future (for compelling reasons spelled out in earlier links).

..[Madonna on left, Stud 327 on right]..I am deeply saddened to learn from the previous site that Cathay, Madonna, Tiger Woods, and the other male (still known only by a number -- why have international naming-contests been held for all the others but none for him? -- does Li Quan consider him a "thing" unless/until he sires a cub?) are now fated to wind up back in Chinese zoos.  That wasn't the original intent.  To have tasted years of freedom only to be returned to the confined space of a zoo seems unbelievably cruel to any sentient being, and certainly to these four tigers.  How can you ethically "re-zoo" re-wilded animals?  Was the primary focus ever on the tigers' well-being?  Was it actually, all along, on using the African-born cubs as tourist-bait in so-called "wilderness" areas offering easy access to upscale hotels and transportation?  Will we later learn that Cathay and Madonna's offspring will also wind up in zoos because the powers-that-be have lost interest in creating an appropriate reserve?
In working on the South China tiger links, I learned that all of the remaining five tiger species are endangered but not all are critically endangered, which is what the South China tigers are. I had the impression that India's tigers, while at risk from poachers (as, tragically, all tigers are), were still managing to thrive. I learned from this Khandro site on Tibetan Buddhism, however, that this is no longer true.  It is now estimated that by 2015, India's Bengal tigers may also be gone.  Why? -- because of wealthy Tibetans who have taken up wearing the skins of tigers from India as a fashion statement.

This is a huge shock to me.  How can it be that some Tibetans, a people renowned for compassion, are now contributing to the extinction of the Bengal tiger?  It's insane.

Here are excerpts from various sources (all carefully identified) on this lengthy website:

... A new survey of India's tiger population has established there are many fewer of the animals than previously believed, prompting fears that increased poaching could lead to their extinction within a decade. The Wildlife Trust of India has revealed there are few or no tigers left in at least six of the country's main reserves....  "There's very little chance of saving the tiger now," said Belinda Wright, the British director of the Wildlife Protection Society of India. "It's got to the stage where it's beyond a crisis and the Indian government is in complete denial about what's going on. We've lost the battle."
The current wave of poaching is being driven by the escalating demand for tiger skins in Tibet. The skins are much sought-after as fashionable additions to traditional garments worn to weddings, horse festivals and at New Year....  "It's a huge criminal racket," said Kumar.  "A villager can earn as much in one night from poisoning and skinning a tiger as he could earn from farming in five years. Eventually, that skin can sell for up to $6,000 US in Lhasa."... "There's only one lonely tigress left in Palamau," said Kumar, referring to the reserve in the central state of Jharkhand.  "It's very sad. She can be heard calling out for a mate, but there's no response."....
Conservationists are particularly critical of the failure of India's wildlife authorities to bolster its forestry service. There has been little or no recruitment of forestry staff in more than 20 years and no training in a decade. The aging guards are no longer equipped to deter highly motivated, well-organized bands of armed poachers....

The Indian tiger is heading rapidly towards extinction, thanks to a new breed of wealthy Tibetans who prize the skins as trimming for their traditional costumes, an investigation has shown. Until recently it was tiger bone used in Chinese medicine that was thought to be driving the escalating poaching trade, but it is now clear that Tibetan fashions are stoking demand to unparalleled and unsustainable levels....

Hearing rumours that the new Tibetan trend for skins was behind the rapid increase in poaching, a team from the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency went to Tibet and the Sichuan and Gansu provinces in China. What they found surpassed even their worst nightmares. In New Delhi on Thursday, Belinda Wright, of the Wildlife Protection Society of India, who was part of the undercover team, said the time for scaremongering was over. "This is it. The end is now in sight for the Indian tiger. The sheer quantities of skins for sale are beyond belief. As the Sariska scandal so clearly showed, the Indian tiger is now being systematically wiped out."

At horse festivals in Tibet and Sichuan, dancers, riders and spectators wandered about, openly wearing the traditional chuba, generously trimmed with tiger and leopard skin, while organisers and local officials joined in. Traders said the demand for the skins was coming from the newly-moneyed classes who had made small fortunes from selling a local caterpillar fungus used in Chinese medicine.  Demand for the fungus has rocketed since two Chinese Olympic athletes attributed their success to its stamina-building powers. A rare mushroom is also fetching high prices. The skins are smuggled along well-established Nepali trading routes into Tibet where they are sold openly in shops in capital Lhasa. Using hidden cameras, Wright, who has devoted 35 years to saving the Indian tiger, toured the centre of old Lhasa posing as a buyer.

She said: "In 10 shops, we found 24 tiger skin chubas, most of them decorated with great swathes of skin, and all openly displayed for sale. "In 20 other shops, we recorded 54 leopard skin chubas. The dealers categorically told us that they had come from India. When we asked, we were shown three fresh tiger skins and seven fresh leopard skins in four different locations - again, all from India."...

Perhaps most depressing was the apparent lack of concern among Tibetans wearing these chubas.  In Sichuan's Litang, Wright talked to a 21-year-old as he sat in his tent, swathed in a fresh tiger skin that had cost his father about £6,700. "He said that he would wear it just twice a year -- during the Tibetan New Year and at the annual horse festival -- even though he said he didn't particularly like it. I asked him how wearing a dead animal's skin could be compatible with his Buddhist religion, but he had no explanation, except to say 'I didn't kill the tiger'," she said....

There is much more, all of it equally distressing.  In some instances, even Buddhist monks are selling tiger skins.
High fashion Tibet-style: Stopping the illegal tiger skin trade in Asia
From yet another direction, this is a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report (with photos) from February 28, 2006 on illegal tiger, leopard, and other skins for sale in Tibet.
The Tiger in Art,
Literature & Culture
Dorothy Gale of Kansas:
"Lions, and tigers, and bears!  Oh, my!"

William Blake's Tyger
From the University of Toronto comes the full text of "The Tyger," the famous poem by William Blake (1757-1827).
This is "Understanding William Blake's 'The Tyger'" by pathologist, Ed Friedlander, M.D.  Some excerpts from this fine essay:
...Although the natural world contains much that is gentle and innocent ("Songs of Innocence"), those who are experienced with life ("Songs of Experience") know that there is also much that is terrible and frightening. (The "fearful symmetry" might be that of the lamb and the tyger, innocence and experience.)

A casual reader or student does not have to understand Blake's mystical-visionary beliefs to appreciate "The Tyger". For the casual reader, the poem is about the question that most of us asked when we first heard about God as the benevolent creator of nature. "Why is there bloodshed and pain and horror?" If you're like me, you've heard various answers that are obviously not true. "The Tyger", which actually finishes without an answer, is (on this level) about your own experience of not getting a completely satisfactory answer to this essential question of faith.

There is more. "The Tyger" is about having your reason overwhelmed at once by the beauty and the horror of the natural world. "When the stars threw down their spears / And watered heaven with their tears" is the most difficult section of "The Tyger".... For Blake, the stars represent cold reason and objective science. (They are weaker than the Sun of inspiration or the moon of love. Their mechanical procession has reminded others, including the author of "Lucifer in Starlight", of "the army of unalterable law"; in this case the law of science.) Although Blake was hostile (as I am, and as most real scientists are) to attempts to reduce all phenomena to chemistry and physics, Blake greatly appreciated the explosion of scientific knowledge during his era. But there is something about seeing a Tyger that you can't learn from a zoology class. The sense of awe and fear defy reason. And Blake's contemporary "rationalists" who had hoped for a tame, gentle world guided by kindness and understanding must face the reality of the Tyger....

...It seems to me that it is not "evil" for a real tiger to eat a lamb, but is part-and-parcel of our world. Yet it still inspires a certain horror and a sense of awe, that we are in the presence of a transcendent mystery at the very heart of creation -- and a certain terrible beauty. If Blake's lyric has brought this to our attention, it has been successful.....
From the Khandro site we have already seen above:
Little Black  Sambo is a children's classic written in 1899 by Helen Bannerman where a boy cleverly gets the better of a tiger by getting it to chase its tail until it melts into butter.  It is often taken to be a racist tale, but should rather be understood as a version of an Indian folktale about Lord Shiva, commonly saluted as Shambo.  Here is a link to the 1994 revised Little Black Sambo [See their amazon link directly below.]
I grew up with  the original version of this book in the 1940s.  I loved it because the little boy was so intelligent and I loved the artwork showing the tigers turning into butter for pancakes.  My grandmother, who made the best pancakes in the world (lots of butter and maple syrup), used to read the story to me in her kitchen in between tending to those pancakes.
Here is Khandro's direct link to the book, Little Black Sambo. Comments and reviews from readers are also of interest.
General Information

Tiger, 1838
[Note: I saved this years ago --
the "1838" might be a file number, not its date]
Oriental Outpost
"101 Tiger Facts," compiled in 2002.  And many are quite intriguing -- e.g., these 28 caught my eye -- doubtless others will catch yours:
6. The South China tiger is believed to be the antecedent of all tigers.

8.  Wild tigers do not live in Africa, they are spread out across Asia and are thought to have originated from Southern China.

22. In the scent of the tigers urine and scat is a code which can only be deciphered by other wild tigers. The message not only acts as a warning to trespasses, but will also supply all the information needed for a would be mate.

25. Tiger stripes are individually as unique as the human finger print.

26. If you were to shave the fur from a tiger it would still have stripes.

27. Tiger stripes act as perfect camouflage in tall weeds and grasses.

28. The tigers most developed sense is its hearing.

29. A tiger can only usually expect a one in twenty success rate when bringing down prey.

51. All tigers have a similar marking on their forehead, which resembles the Chinese symbol Wang, meaning King.

52. Tigers do not purr.

53. Usually before mating, but also as a sign of affection, tigers make a kind of chuffing sound by expelling air softly through the nostrils.

61. On average a tigers tail is around four feet long or half the length of its body.

62. The tail gives the tiger extra balance when running and is also used to communicate to other tigers.

71. A white tiger is not an albino, all white tigers are believed to have descended from a single white Bengal male called Mohan.

72. It is said that the South China tiger is impossible to train, many Chinese circuses gave up after trying to implement them into their acts.

Also very sobering [note: see 2003 Wall Street Journal report, above, for Mao Zedong's disastrous role in the near-extinction of the South China tiger, which isn't mentioned on this site]:
7. The tiger is the most endangered species of big cat. Of the remaining tiger subspecies the South China tiger is the most critically endangered with only around sixty living in Chinese zoos and approximately twenty in the wild (although none have been spotted for over twenty years). This puts this subspecies at the very top of the endangered species list.

18. It is impossible to count how many tigers[of all species] are left in the wild but experts estimate there to be less than 6000.

78. The demise of the tiger is due to loss of habitat and the use of tiger parts in traditional Chinese medicines.

79. Every single part of the tiger is used in traditional Chinese medicine.

80. Tiger derivatives have been used in traditional Chinese medicines for over 1000 years.

81. There is not a shred of scientific evidence to back up claims that any of these remedies work.

86. In 1959 The South China tiger was declared a pest and a bounty was placed on its head.

87. In 1959 there were approximately 4000 South China tigers in the wild.

88. Between 1960 and 1984, 3000 South China tiger pelts were officially recorded.

90.  Now the Chinese government is completely dedicated to saving the South China tiger.

91. As the trade for tiger parts has now been forced underground the incentives for poachers have greatly increased, one tiger carcass can mean as much as ten years pay.

92. The main users of illegal animal derivatives are, China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan.

101. The tiger has only one predator...MAN!
Two brief cross-cultural pages on "Cats in Mythology: Housecats, Jaguars, Leopards, Lions, and Tigers" by Josie Shadwell. Very, very basic, entry-level info. No sources provided (google further if something intrigues you).
For fans of tigers, this is a huge collection of tiger photos and art available for sale on clothing and other items.  (Note: thumbnails of art seem to change at random so what you see one day might not be there the next.  If something catches your eye, save the image with its file name so you can inquire later. FYI: larger images have been rigged so that you won't be able to save them at all.)

Mentioned or Related

..Wu Song Beat a Man-eating Tiger: Chinese Traditional Story is a version of this old tale re-told by Dr. Ke Peng (who holds a Ph. D. in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago). I don't own this paperback but it looks interesting -- & for under $13, it's also very affordable. So far, there are no customer reviews and the product description states only:  This Chinese traditional story gives people the courage to overcome various abnormal difficulties in life.
..Published by Routledge in 1998, this is The Eternal Storyteller: Oral Literature in Modern China (Nias Studies in Asia Topics, 24) by Vibeke Bordahl, the author mentioned above at the JSTOR link on Wu Song. The work is based on the August 1996 "International Workshop on Oral Literature in Modern China," hosted by the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (Nias) and featuring five master-storytellers from China.  The product description makes the richly illustrated book sound very enticing.  It's pricey, however -- about $73.
..This is The Hungry Tigress: Buddhist Myths, Legends, and Jataka Tales, Rafe Martin's award winning re-telling of Buddhist stories (along with commentary and analysis) for young and old.  One reader writes: "The foundation of all these stories is kindness and compassion. They touch something deep inside that says "Ahh, this is right, this is how we should truely live." This is by far the best book of "childrens" stories I have ever read. I enjoyed them at least as much as my children."
..Dharma Paths by Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, who was mentioned above in connection with beautifully written stories about what happened to the starving tigress and her cubs in their later incarnations.
Additional Art Sources:
A good, searchable source of commercial Chinese art on various themes.
For example, when I searched this site [January 2010] for "tiger,"
this link, currently showing 4 Asian tiger paintings, came up:
Another commercial site with a wide range of searchable offerings is:

General Data on Lunar New Year

A Gallery of Art & Culture Related to the Ox25 January 2009

Pigs in History, Religion, Culture, & Art:
[This is one of my new January 2007 pages with general information
but also great material on ancient China's pigs and pig-dragons.]

2010-2011 Year of the Metal Tiger is now at: Lunar Archives: MetalTiger
2009-2010 Year of the Earth Ox is now at: Lunar Archives: EarthOx
2008-2009 Year of the Earth Rat is now at: Lunar Archives: EarthRat
 2007-2008 Year of the Fire Pig is now at: Lunar Archives: FirePig
 2006-2007 Year of the Fire Dog is now at: Lunar Archives: FireDog
2005-2006 Year of the Wood Rooster is now at: Lunar Archives: Wood Rooster
 2004-2005 Year of the Wood Monkey is now at: Lunar Archives: Wood Monkey
 2003-2004 Year of the Water Goat is now at: Lunar Archives: Water Goat
2002-2003 Year of the Water Horse is now at: Lunar Archives: Water Horse
2001-2002 Year of the Metal Snake page is now at: Lunar Archives: Metal Snake
 2000-2001 Year of the Metal Dragon page is now at:Lunar Archives: Metal Dragon

To the ASIA menu-page

To Common Themes: Time
(Calendars, Millennial Issues, etc)

To Common Themes: Star Lore & Astrology

To Current Winter Greetings & Lore page

To the Imbolc page

To the Annual Springtide Greetings page

My complete Table of Contents
& e-mail address are on my Home Page.

© 2010 Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.

Tiger Year: 31 December 2009: began replacing art.
3 January 2010: Began this new page by shifting material on art , etc gathered since New Year's Eve.
4 January 2010: began gathering links for this page.
18 January 2010: launched as work-in-progress.
18-19 January 2010, til 3:30am: grokking and rearranging links.
19 January 2010: ditto -- c. 10 hours straight on S. China tigers & Africa.
20 January 2010: not as many hours, but still working on the above + Jataka versions.
23 January 2010: finished Li Quan/Tiger project; also began and finished the starlore section.
24-25 January 2010, 12:30am-3:40am: grokked a few more links.
27 January 2010: more grokking; started Books section.
28 January 2010:  Found Bordahl's article on Wu Song.  Everything's now done, unless I add more on astronomy, Feng Shui, etc.
29 January 2010, 2:15am: added 3 new "star links" -- integrated one up above; 2 left to grok.  Later, same day, c. 2-6pm: added & integrated 3 additional star links + image of star-chart. Officially launching site on home page tonight.


15 January 2011: duplicated a link on tiger-bun pastries from the main lunar year page to this page, where it's more appropriate.  //// 16 January 2011: after launching the new Year of the Rabbit page, I returned to this page to reorganize & shift the many endangered tiger links into their own section.


9 January 2012:  at the bottom of this page I just found 9 links (with brief descriptions) from 18 January 2010 labaled as "ungrokked." But at some point I had already integrated them into the finished page so I have no idea why I didn't delete them in 2010!  Today, I did that.  I also grokked 2 more cosmology links I'd added in the "wee hours of 29 January 2010."  I'm not yet sure if I'll add them to this page or shift them to my new dragon page.

[Left ungrokked from 29 January 2010 & finally added 9 January 2012]:  This is "The Cosmological Origins of Fengshui," an illustrated 1998 paper by Dr. Stephen L. Field of Trinity University.  It has fascinating data on China's four sky-deities, including the dragon and tiger. There's also a great little animation of stars circling the globe -- it's quite lovely but I can't fgure out what it's trying to show!  For those who "get it," however, this will be a site of great interest.  Here is how the article, moving from ancient cosmologists to fengshui masters, concludes. This, at least, I can grasp:
...In the ideal world the four celestial deities of the dragon, tiger, bird and turtle, do indeed meet the earth as they traverse the horizon. The permanent situation captured on the earth plate of the cosmograph--dragon to the east, bird to the south, tiger to the west, and turtle to the north--represents the spring equinox. In many ancient cultures, including China, this marks the beginning of the new year. When the cosmologist was replaced by the fengshui master in the centuries during and after the Han dynasty, the cosmograph slowly evolved into the compass, an unmistakable Chinese invention, and the function of the instrument evolved from celestial to terrestrial divination. But the purpose was unchanged. The hope was that humans might recapture the perfection of the ideal world. When he locates the dragon and tiger in his local environment, the fengshui master has discovered a veritable heaven on earth.
[Left ungrokked from 29 January 2010 & finally added 9 January 2012]:  Large white tiger and azure dragon "constellations"on either side of a royal skeleton in a Neolithic grave; below that is another celestial depiction that includes the hare in moon (fyi: used for 2011 Rabbit Lunar New Year page). Excerpt on the grave:
Royal Neolithic Grave

This grave is number 45 at the Xishuipo Puyang site in Henan Province. The Neolithic grave dates to around 5300 BC and may have been that of a king. The Azure Dragon and White Tiger can be seen keeping the skeleton company. The Vermillion Bird is out of sight. The symbols may have been buried with the king to protect him or as symbols of his status in the heavens....

The inclusion of celestial features in graves is found all over the world in early societies that developed astronomy and astrology. The belief that the cyclical occurrences in nature had some sort of plan and a spirit or power to guide them led man to try to discover ways to appease, to control, or to influence those powers. The Chinese belief that there was a direct link between the celestial plan and the imperial house was one of the essential ingredients for the continuous dynastic system with consistent heritage from era to era. To cut ties with the heavens meant cutting the government off from legitimacy. Even in death, the king prepared to assume his rightful place among those who had been given the mandate of heaven....
[Discovered 1/9/12 by accident at the above site]: Great artwork on sky as hen's egg and earth as yolk. FYI: top middle arrow goes to index -- much still to explore there! Left arrow is neolithic grave; right arrow is egg/yolk, etc. Great!!