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Motifs & Symbols

Browse terms in alphabetical order according to their Chinese Pinyin.

Chinese Pinyin: An Chun
Chinese: 鹌鹑
Name Of Image: Quail
Description:

Quail’s Chinese name is ‘an chun’(鹌鹑). Its first character 鹌 (‘an’) is often used in Chinese language for its pun on ‘an’(安) which means peace and safety.   Related Pun Rebuses: May you live in peace and leisure 安居 May […]

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Chinese Pinyin: Ba Ji Xiang
Chinese: 八吉祥
Name Of Image: Eight auspicious emblems
Description:

Also called ‘ba bao’ (八宝), ‘ba rui xiang’ (八瑞相), or ‘ji xiang ba bao’(吉祥八宝). There are eight emblems in traditional Tibetan Buddhism symbolising happiness and spiritual well-being: Dharma wheel, conch shell, parasol, lotus, treasure vase, golden fish, victory banner, and endless knot.

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Chinese Pinyin: Bao Xiang Hua
Chinese: 宝相花
Name Of Image: Passion Flower
Description:

The pattern of ‘bao xiang (宝相)’ is also called ‘bao lian (宝莲)’, ‘bao xian (宝仙)’, or ‘xi fan lian (西番莲)’, which literally means ‘western passion flower’.   Related Motif: Lotus 莲花

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Chinese Pinyin: Bian Fu
Chinese: 蝙蝠
Name Of Image: Bat
Description:

Bat in Chinese is called bian fu (蝙蝠). The bat and its various stylised forms are often used in Chinese art for auspicious purposes, as 蝠 (‘fu’) puns on 福 (‘fu’, meaning luck, or good fortune).

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Chinese Pinyin: Du Shu Da Fu Gui
Chinese: 读书大富贵
Name Of Image: You may become super rich by receiving good education
Description:

Book is a symbol of education or examinations. Peony is a symbol of wealth and prestige. The motif combination of book and peony sends a message to the receiver ‘You may become super rich by receiving good education!’   Related […]

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Chinese Pinyin: Feng Huang
Chinese: 凤凰
Name Of Image: Phoenix
Description:

Phoenix, as an imaginary creature in Chinese culture, has been esteemed as the queen of all kinds of birds. When coupled with the image of dragon in Chinese artworks, it symbolises royal power. Later on, the use of dragon and […]

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Chinese Pinyin: Gong Ji
Chinese: 公鸡
Name Of Image: Rooster
Description:

One of the most commonly used motifs that depicts household fowls. It has also been frequently used in pun rebuses for the meaning of ‘good fortune’ or ‘good wishes’, as its Chinese pronunciation is ji 鸡, the same as ji […]

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Chinese Pinyin: Gui Hua
Chinese: 桂花
Name Of Image: Osmanthus
Description:

Osmanthus blossoms in autumn and is conventionally regarded as the flower of the eighth month of the Chinese lunisolar calendar. Its sweet scent is discreet, distinctive and unforgettable, and has a legendary position in Chinese poetry and art. It is […]

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Chinese Pinyin: He Hua
Chinese: 荷花
Name Of Image: Lotus (He Hua)
Description:

One of the most commonly drawn motifs in Chinese traditional artworks, particularly favoured by scholars. Lotus in Chinese can be translated into He Hua (荷花) or Lian Hua (莲花). The use of their images, however, are interchangeable. Lotus flower, leave, […]

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Chinese Pinyin: Hu Dié
Chinese: 蝴蝶
Name Of Image: Butterfly
Description:

‘Dié 蝶’ from Hu Dié 蝴蝶, the Chinese character for ‘butterfly’, puns on ‘dié 耋’, meaning ‘octogenarian’.   Related Pun Picture: May mother live up to a ripe old age 萱耋

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