As of 2015, it is unknown who originally created the Chinese zodiac. Animals of the Chinese zodiac are found on artifacts created as early as 475 to 221 B.C. during the Warring States Period of Chinese history.
The origin of the Chinese zodiac is told by legends or myth. Each legend tells a different story. Some scholars argue that the Chinese zodiac was created by early Chinese astronomers, while others state that the animals of the zodiac were brought to China, along with Buddhism, via the Silk Road trading route.
Popularity of the Chinese zodiac rose in 618 to 907 A.D., during the Tang Dynasty. Pottery found from the Tang Dynasty period shows depictions of the animals of the Chinese zodiac. The zodiac cycle consists of 12-year cycles with 12 months each. Since most people in these early Chinese civilizations were illiterate, 12 animals were used to symbolize the 12-year cycle.