Marysville, United States

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Bovidae in Chinese mythology include various myths and legends about a group of biologically-distinct animals which form important motifs within Chinese mythology.

There are many myths about the animals modernly classified as Bovidae, referring to oxen, sheep, goats, and mythological types such as “unicorns” (though perhaps not Bovidae, in the strict scientific sense).

There are various motifs of animals of the Bovidae biological family in Chinese mythology. These have often served as allusions in poetry and other literature. Some species are also used in the traditional Chinese calendar and time-keeping system.


The subfamily Caprinae are ruminants, consisting of mostly medium-sized bovids.

Members also are known as caprids.

The domestic sheep and goats have both been well known in China.

The goat is a reference to an ancient myth, concerning a great famine in Guangzhou (Canton), Guangdong Province.

Other Caprinae known in China are types called “antelopes”, or “goat-antelopes” since they are not true antelopes (a true antelope is a bovid with a cervid-like or antilocaprid-like morphology).

Most goat-antelopes are gregarious and have fairly stocky builds.

The lifestyles of caprids fall into two broad classes: ‘resource-defenders’, which are territorial and defend a small, food-rich area against other members of the same species; and ‘grazers’, which gather together into herds and roam freely over a larger, usually relatively infertile area.

Species in the area of China include the urial (Ovis orientalis) which occupies a largely infertile area from Kashmir to Iran, including much desert country characteristic of the historic Western Regions.

The European mouflon (Ovis musimon) is thought to be the ancestor of the modern domestic sheep (Ovis aries), and was historically herded by the Xiong Nu, and other population groups located in or near China.

The domestic goat (Capra aegagrus hircus) is a subspecies of goat domesticated from the wild goat of southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. Another species historically found wild in parts of China include the serow and the goral.

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