Jade & Chinese Symbolism
Symbolism is present throughout all cultures. Symbols may be seen in pictures, words, art, architecture, and common household items. They are another way of communicating social standings, moral messages, historical and legendary stories, thoughts, meanings, and hopes of a particular cultural group.
China has a great tradition of respecting nature. This love for nature is signified by various symbols and the values that are attached to them. The Chinese see these symbols as visual representations of their sacred feelings. In fact, of all the countries in the world, China probably has the most faith in its symbols, associating a number of them with wealth and prosperity, abundance, peace, and harmony.
The Chinese language also influenced the development of Chinese symbolism. Chinese is a tonal language, therefore, depending on how a word is pronounced it could mean several different things. For these reason, the Chinese are experts in playing on words and symbols. For example, the words for good fortune and bat are pronounced the same way although they are written with different characters.
Another example is a very popular Chinese New Year painting motif, which involves a combination of sounds and symbols: a chubby boy riding on a fish in a pond full of lotus leaves and flowers.
In Chinese language, the word for lotus, pronounced “lian”, sounds like “for years running”, while the fish, “yu”, sounds the same like “more than sufficient”. As a result, a combination of lotus and fish means “more than sufficiently provided for years running”, a good wish for prosperity, luckiness and wealth in the coming future.
When polished and carved into various articles, jade is frequently attributed with certain figures, animals, plants, flowers, and signs, all of which contain cultural and religious connotations.
In ancient times, people expressed abstract notions with concrete image symbols, which were influenced by Taoism and Buddhism. Jade craftworks were among the most precious and luxurious ones; people wore and decorated rooms to indicate loyalty, elegance, beauty, and eternity.
The most popular symbols are:
The dragon is not a sign of terror as it appears in the Western world. On the contrary, the dragon is seen as a symbol of power and excellence, valiancy and boldness, heroism and perseverance, nobility and divinity. A dragon overcomes obstacles until success is his. He is energetic, decisive, optimistic, intelligent and ambitious.
The phoenix is a popular symbol in Chinese culture. Known as one of the most beautiful birds, the phoenix represents high virtue, grace, justice and graciousness. It is the second most-respected legendary creature (second to the dragon), largely used to represent the empress and females.
In China, the fish represents wealth, prosperity and abundance, because the actual word in Chinese for fish, “yu”, is pronounced the same way as the words for superfluity. Two fish paired together symbolize union and marriage.
For centuries, Chinese culture has embraced the lotus flower for its extreme beauty as well as for its usefulness and spiritual connotations. The Chinese revere the sacred locus as a symbol of purity and elegance, and it is a common motif in ancient Chinese poetry.
As a cultural icon of elegance and classiness in Chinese history, Bamboo is a symbol of oriental beauty. It represents the character of moral integrity, resistance, modest, and loyalty.
- Plum Blossom:
Even the chill of the harsh winter does not diminish the abundant flowering of the plum blossoms. The plum blossoms in all their charm bring with them the qualities of firmness and solidity. They have been loved throughout the history of China. In literature, the flower has been compared to the human personality.
Learn more about Jade & Chinese Symbolism
Chinese Cultural Symbol: Dragon
Chinese Cultural Symbol: Phoenix
Chinese Cultural Symbol: Butterfly
Chinese Cultural Symbol: Fish
Chinese Cultural Symbol: Plum Blossom
Chinese Cultural Symbol: Bamboo
Chinese Cultural Symbol: Lotus