Get ready for the Chinese Zodiac Head World Tour.  The multi-year, globe trotting show features artist Ai Weiwei’s interpretation of the famed 12 zodiac heads of the 18th century Qing Dynasty.

In the traditional Chinese zodiac, each year is represented by one of 12 animals: boar, dog, dragon, goat, horse, monkey, ox, rabbit, rat, rooster, snake and tiger,  rotating  every 12-years.  According to Asian culture, the animal representing a person’s birth year profoundly influences his or her personality and destiny.

The inspiration for Weiwei’s bronze heads were originally created in the 18th century by two European Jesuits serving in the court of  Emperor Qianlong.  The twelve animal pieces functioned as a water clock-fountain  in the  gardens of the Yuanming Yuan.  In 1860, the Yuanming was attacked by French and British troops, and the heads were pillaged, leaving only seven of the original zodiac animals.

In the touring exhibit Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads all 12 zodiac animals will be represented.  Weiwei’s over-sized animal busts are  thrown bronze and positioned on bronze bases. Each head weighs roughly 800 pounds and measures roughly 4 feet high and 3 feet wide. With bases the stand roughly 10 feet tall.

The tour hits New York City on May 2, 2011 at the Pulitzer Fountain at Grand Army Plaza near Central Park.  The exhibition ends July 15.

images via designboom