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Monkey finds favor with Chinese as goat slips away
( 2004-01-18 14:16) (Xinhua)

As a symbol of cleverness and vitality, monkeys have found favor with the Chinese weeks before they see the goat off on the lunar New Year's Day, which falls on January 22 this year in the western calendar.

Eyeing an opportunity to take advantage of the Year of the Monkey in the Chinese lunar calendar, markets in major Chinese cities have stocked up on "monkeys" in jade, wood, metal, and porcelain.

Zhao Ying, a gift store keeper in downtown Hefei, capital of the eastern province of Anhui, says wooden monkey sculptures standing more than one meter tall have sold extremely well in the local market. "Some buyers are avid collectors, but many buy the monkeys for their loved ones who were born in a year of the monkey," she said.

Zhao said she was doing "good business", because the wooden sculptures were being sold at several thousand yuan each, about a professional's monthly salary.

But most of her profits still come from small items: eardrops, necklaces and pendants on mobile phones which present monkeys in different poses. "We are selling several hundred of these small ornaments a day," said Zhao.

In addition to gifts and artwork, children's wear, toys and jewelry is selling at major department stores across China, all bearing monkeys.

Even electric appliance sellers, who are unable to produce a TV or refrigerator with a monkey on top, are sending away monkey shaped key rings and tie bars to their customers.

But an information technology company has boldly combined a digital camcorder with a monkey that is stuffed with sponge and covered with plush -- with lens hidden under its nose. Dealers saythe camcorder have good market prospects and will win the hearts of children in particular.

The Year of the Monkey ranks ninth in the 12-year rotation of the Chinese birth sign system that starts with rat, followed by ox,tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, chicken, dog, and ends with pig.

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