Interesting findings & case studies on commonly misunderstood and mystery images

Images of Tao Yuanming Appreciating Chrysanthemum, like many other traditional historical themes, are often mistaken as a mere ‘flowering-picking’ scene, or, worse, simply a ‘figure painting’.

Chrysanthemum in traditional Chinese culture has a symbolic meaning for long life. When it is presented with stone which then has an auspicious name of ‘long-life stone (寿石)’, the whole picture symbolises good wishes for longevity in life.

When the motif of chrysanthemum is used together with quail, the pronunciation of chrysanthemum in Chinese ‘ju (菊)’ serves as a pun for ‘ju (居, meaning living or residing). See more explanation in An Ju (安居).

Related blog:

Tao Yuanming’s Love for Chrysanthemum

Pun Design: Quails + Chrysanthemum

Punning Details:

The word ‘an 鹌’ in ‘an chun 鹌鹑’ for ‘quail’ makes a pun on ‘an 安’ for ‘peace’. The word ‘ju 菊’ in ‘ju hua 菊花’ for ‘chrysanthemum’ puns on the word ‘ju 居’ for ‘to live’. Thus, the composition forms a pictorial pun that conveys the auspicious message of ‘May you live in peace and leisure’.


画面要素:鹌鹑 + 菊花

谐音详情:‘鹌鹑’ 中 ‘鹌’ 与 ‘安’ 谐音, ‘菊花’ 中 ‘菊’ 与 ‘居’ 谐音


Related Pun Pictures:

May you enjoy peace and happiness 安喜

May the country be in peace and order forever 久安长治