The 12 Eartly Branches

The earthly branches provide a Chinese system for the calculation of time.
This system was built from observations of the orbit of Jupiter, that was divide into 12 zodiacal sections by ancient Chinese astronomers.


The 12 branches are connected to the 12 months of the year, the seasons and the 12 Chinese zodiacal signs. The 12 stems form the basis of the system of zodiacal double hours.


The 12 earthly branches

 Branch   Zodiac Season Month Bihour Meaning
1 Rat winter 11 23:00-01:00 Yang begins to develop while yin reaches it’s zenith
2 chǒu Ox 12 01:00-03:00 New buds begin come out of the ground
3 yín Tiger spring 1 03:00-0500 Yang energy develops increasingly
4 mǎo Rabbit 2 05:00-07:00 Yang energy begins to prosper
5 chén Dragon 3 07:00-09:00 There is a changing or shaking
6 Snake autumn 4 09:00-11:00 There comes the end of the blossom
7 Horse 5 11:00-13:00 Yin begins to develop while yang reaches it’s zenith
8 wèi Goat 6 13:00-15:00 Fruits begin to ripe
9 shēn Monkey summer 7 15:00-17:00 Crops are ripe for the harvest
10 yǒu Rooster 8 17:00-19:00 Crops wither away
11 Dog 9 19:00-21:00 The harvest is finished
12 hài Pig winter 10 21:00-23:00 Crops are stored


In chronoacupuncture the 12 earthly branches are often combined with

the 10 heavenly stems. Together they form the sexagenary cycle, a group of unique stem and branch combinations.