Happy Chinese New Year Of The Ox 2021 With Two Auspicious Ox-Themed Writing Instruments
by Nancy Olson
When I think of Chinese New Year, I think of boisterous celebrations with dancing dragons and glowing red lanterns. But this days-long festival is more than just a party: Chinese New Year – sometimes called the Lunar New Year – has deep roots in Chinese history and mythology.
And though customs and traditions vary widely throughout China, it is generally a time to honor deities and ancestors and to petition for a year filled with good fortune.
The first day of Chinese New Year begins on the new moon that appears between January 21 and February 20. This year, it begins on Friday, February 12.
The presiding Chinese zodiac animal is the ox, symbolizing fortune and prosperity as well as physical and emotional stamina. People born under the sign of the ox are said to be responsible and hardworking, needing to finish everything they start.
Several watch brands, including Blancpain, Chopard, Harry Winston, and Jaquet Droz, have recently introduced timepieces in honor of the Year of the Ox, augmenting existing collections that annually honor this holiday. See Happy Chinese New Year Of The Ox With 8 Auspicious Ox-Themed Wristwatches for eight of these.
So, too, a couple of luxury pen brands. Caran d’Ache’s Chinese Calendar is one such collection as is Montblanc’s Signs & Symbols, which debuted in 2015 and comprises “Legend of Zodiacs” as well as “A Journey Among Dragons.”
I give kudos to the companies that take on the zodiac animals as part of their product décors. While some lend themselves to grandeur or mystique like the dragon, snake and tiger, I would think others are more difficult to depict, posing the challenge of slipping into cuteness or even cartoonish designs.
But both of these pen brands did an amazing job (as did the watch companies) in their respective representations of this year’s lumbering ox – as they did with 2020’s perhaps-even-more-challenging Year of the Rat.
Caran d’Ache Chinese Calendar Year of the Ox
Caran d’Ache’s Year of the Ox shows off the brand’s technical expertise in engraving and in the use of Chinese lacquer, both skills having been practiced for over 100 years at the Geneva company.
Like last year’s Year of the Rat model, Caran d’Ache used black Chinese lacquer to contrast with the Chinese lacquer beneath it – this year a regal purple – causing the figure of the animal to emerge via engraving.
I particularly love this technique, wherein multiple layers of lacquer are applied to get just the proper depth of material for both the feel and appearance of the pen.
According to Caran d’Ache, it takes 12 days just to apply the lacquer – by hand. I can only imagine the deftness required to remove the exact amount of lacquer to reveal the color below.
There are just 888 fountain pens and 888 rollerball pens in the Year of the Ox collection, all featuring gold-plated trim. The gripping sections on both the fountain pen and the rollerball also feature engraving, which adds a further sense of exclusivity to this limited edition.
The fountain pen, filled by cartridge or converter, has a specially engraved 18-karat gold nib.
The pens come in a polished and decorated presentation case, which also holds a certificate of authenticity.
For more information, please visit www.carandache.com/be/en/fountain-pen/year-of-the-ox-fountain-pen-limited-edition.
Quick Facts Caran d’Ache Chinese Calendar Year of the Ox
Edition: fountain pen, rollerball
Nib: 18-karat yellow gold
Cap and barrel: Chinese lacquer
Limitation: 888 pieces each mode
Price: €2,800 / £2,600 (fountain pen); €2,500 / £2,500 (rollerball)
Montblanc Legend of Zodiacs: Celebrating the Year of the Ox
The sterling silver cap of the Legend of the Zodiacs fountain pen is hand-engraved with an engaging representation of an ox along with corncobs representing the harvest and clouds signifying good luck. The champagne-tone gold-coated barrel is elegantly decorated with engravings inspired by the “lucky cloud” and “sycee” (a type of ingot) – both symbols of luck in China.
The cone of the pen is set with an aquamarine, the birthstone of the ox sign, and 2021 is engraved on the cap along with the last six years that fell under this sign.
The handcrafted champagne tone gold-coated 18-karat nib is embellished with an engraving of the symbol for the ox, while the Montblanc emblem on the cap crown is mother-of-pearl. There are 512 pens in the edition in recognition of the lucky number eight: 8 x 8 x 8 = 512.
A leather notebook, sterling silver ox-inspired cufflinks, and a special yellow gold ink were also introduced in conjunction with the Year of the Ox pen collection.
This 2021 fountain pen was actually introduced by Montblanc in the fall of 2020, perhaps in an effort to speed up the ringing out of the old year and into the new.
Thanks, Montblanc. I’m with you on that.
For more information, please visit www.montblanc.com/en-be/collection/writing/pen-types.
Quick Facts Montblanc Legend of Zodiacs: Celebrating the Year of the Ox
Edition: fountain pen
Nib: 18-karat gold
Cap and barrel: sterling silver cap; champagne-tone gold-coated barrel
Limitation: 512 fountain pens
Price: upon request