Like the shrimp, the pig is one of those animals that is either celebrated or condemned. When used as livestock, pigs are farmed primarily for the production of their meat. While pork is a taboo food in some religions, statistics reveal that it remains a popular food and 1.5 billion pigs are slaughtered each year for meat.
In China, pigs were domesticated 8,000 years ago. Female pigs reach sexual maturity at 3–12 months of age and come into oestrus every 18–24 days. As a prey animal, the instinctive behaviour of a pig causes them to have a strong fear of being picked up. This results in the animal expressing stress by struggling and squealing. This fear, however, may be lessened if the pig was held frequently during infancy.
Pigs are known to need enrichment activities to keep their intelligent minds occupied. In the event of boredom, they can become destructive.
Pigs have been featured in children’s books since at least 1840, when the popular classic Three Little Pigs appeared in print. In George Orwell’s allegorical novel Animal Farm, the central characters–which are all pigs–represented Soviet leaders. The hit box office film Babe humorously portrayed a pig who wanted to be a herding dog. The pig characters we have known have both delighted and disgusted us.
While the pig is forbidden in some religions, it is considered sacred in other religious traditions. One of the animals sacred to the Roman goddess Diana was the boar. In Hinduism, the boar-headed Varaha is venerated as an avatar of the god Vishnu. The sow was sacred to the Egyptian goddess Isis and was used as a sacrifice to Osiris. In China, some people plan years in advance to have children in the Year of the Pig.
In idioms and epithets, pigs have been used to convey derogatory meanings, especially as it pertains to dirtiness and greed. On the Buddhist Wheel, a Black Pig represents one of life’s three poisons: greed, ill will, and delusion.
At the same time, have you ever wondered how and perhaps even why the piggy bank became a symbol for savings? The pig represents abundance, wealth, strength and never wanting for everyday needs. The piggy bank is a reminder that we should neither be selfish nor give into excess.
Pigs have a nose for new opportunities and know how to make the most of the landscape in front of them. If a plot of land is not yielding the nourishment desired, then the pig will move on and find another patch of ground to explore. The Pig Totem also brings good luck, particularly with money. Some gamblers even carry pig figurines as an amulet with the energetic influences of luck and abundance in mind.
Pigs represent fertility, which has a strong association with giving birth to children, a business, a movement, or a career. After all, pigs are resourceful and unpretentious. Many Pigs are pink, which is the colour of love, romance and femininity. Other Pigs are black and white and the two colours together represent the balance between Yin and Yang.
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