great many years ago, The Buddha began assigning an animal to
each of the years of the twelve year Mongolian calendar. When he
had finished assigning eleven animals, the Buddha paused to
consider which animal should be allotted the twelfth and final
On hearing this, the Camel and the Mouse, neither of whom had
been selected, rushed to see the Buddha. Bowing respectfully
before The Great Sage, each presented himself as a worthy
candidate. The Buddha listened in silence as each animal argued
When the elaborate pleas came to an end, the Wise Buddha, not
wishing to offend either of the eager and equally deserving
animals, quietly told the Camel and the Mouse that they would
have to resolve the matter themselves in a friendly and honest
The big Camel and the tiny Mouse, after much discussion and
debate, finally agreed that they would settle the issue with a
contest. The first to see the light of the new morning sun the
very next day would be the winner, and the winner would enter the
twelve-year Mongolian calendar for all time.
That night, in the darkness, in the middle of a wide, open plain,
the Camel took up a position facing East. The Mouse, who had
asked the Camel if he could sit on his hump, fixed his eyes on a
faraway, snow-covered mountain to the West. Eyes propped wide
open, the two anxious contestants settled down to wait for the
At dawn, when the great fiery ball began it's slow ascent, one
thin early ray glanced off the snowy western mountaintop. The
Mouse squealed out:
"There it is! I see the sun! I win!"
"What?" cried the Camel, who knew that the sun rose in the East.
"Why, you little sneak! You've cheated! You'll pay for this!"
As the terrified Mouse scurried down the Camel's hump to seek
safety in the nearby pile of ashes, the Camel charged after him.
He threw his heavy body on the ground, and rolled back and forth
on the ash pile, hoping to crush the Mouse with his weight.
The Camel didn't squash the Mouse that time, but he's certain
that one day he will. Whenever he spies a pile of ashes, he
thinks the Mouse must be hiding inside. He snorts, stamps his
feet, then lies down and rolls around and around, trying to
flatten his tricky little foe.
So it happened that the little Mouse entered the twelve-year
Mongolian calendar while the big Camel was excluded.
Feeling sorry for the Camel, the Wise Buddha told him gently that
he would never be forgotten. No, in fact the Camel would be
represented in the Mongolian Calendar by possessing one feature
of each of the twelve different animals.
If you look carefully at the Camel, you will see that the Buddha
has kept his word, because the Camel has:
The ears of the Mouse
The stomach of the Cow
The paws of the Tiger
The nose of the Hare
The body of the Dragon
The eyes of the Snake
The mane of the Horse
the wool of the Sheep
The hump of the Ape
The head crest of the Rooster
The crooked back legs of the Dog
And the tail of the Pig
This, as you can
imagine, makes him a very happy Camel, indeed.