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Motifs & Symbols

Alternatively, browse terms in alphabetical order according to their Chinese Pinyin 汉语拼音

Chinese Pinyin: Pu Tao
Chinese: 葡萄
Name Of Image: Grape
Description:

Grapes grow in clusters of up to 300 berries each and thus produce an enormous number of seeds. This property was regarded by the ancient Chinese as an apt allusion to their wish for a large number of offspring. That …

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Chinese Pinyin: Shou
Chinese: 寿
Name Of Image: Longevity
Description:

The Chinese deeply respect the elderly and consider a long existence – ideally accompanied by health and happiness – to be one of the five most important blessings (wufu 五福) in a person’s life, which were believed by the ancients …

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Chinese Pinyin: Shu Kui Jia Die
Chinese: 蜀葵蛱蝶
Name Of Image: Hollyhocks and butterflies
Description:

Hollyhock (shu kui 蜀葵) implies that people’s hearts will follow their statesman or emperor.   Related motif: Butterfly 蝴蝶

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Chinese Pinyin: Shuang Ji Mu Dan
Chinese: 双犄牡丹
Name Of Image: Two-horned peony blossom
Description:

Common sources such as Baidu refer to the motif of a peony flower head with two distinctive ‘horns’ as a characteristic feature unique to Chinese porcelain of the Kangxi period (1662-1722). As a matter of fact, the tradition can be …

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Chinese Pinyin: Sui Han San You
Chinese: 岁寒三友
Name Of Image: Three Friends in Winter
Description:

Pines, bamboos, and plum blossoms (prunus) form the ‘Three Friends in Winter’ (岁寒三友) motif. The early blossoming plum is the harbinger of spring; the bamboo bends in wind but does not break; and the pine needles remain green throughout the …

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Chinese Pinyin: Tao
Chinese:
Name Of Image: Peach fruit
Description:

The peach fruit usually symbolises longevity or immortality in Chinese pictorial art. The origin of this idea started from legends dating back to the third century. Read Dr Yibin Ni’s research article for related literatures and legendary stories from ancient …

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Chinese Pinyin: Wan
Chinese: 卐 (万字)
Name Of Image: Swastika (the Wan character in Chinese)
Description:

Either the clockwise swastika 卐 or the counterclockwise sauwastika 卍 is used interchangeably in Chinese decorative arts as well as in some religious contexts. Sometimes, the two opposite versions can co-occur on the same occasion without making a difference in …

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Chinese Pinyin: Wu Du Tu
Chinese: 五毒图
Name Of Image: The Five Poisons
Description:

Summer solstice, the longest day in the year, occurs in the fifth month of the Chinese calendar and Chinese astronomy believes that it stands for the apogee of the yang force in the annual cycle. Ancient philosophers warned in Classic …

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Chinese Pinyin: Xuan Cao (Bai He Hua)
Chinese: 萱草 (百合花)
Name Of Image: Lily
Description:

‘Xuan 萱’ comes from ‘xuan cao 萱草’,the Chinese name for ‘lily’. In traditional Chinese decorative arts, lily flowers symbolise motherhood and maternal bonds with children, and they figure prominently on articles created for mothers, expecting or being a birthday girl. …

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Chinese Pinyin: Xuan Shou
Chinese: 萱寿
Name Of Image: Happy Birthday, Mother!
Description:

How the daylily, whose Chinese name is ‘xuan 萱’, came to become a symbol for motherhood in Chinese culture is explained in the blog ‘Cultural Differences in the Symbolic Meaning of Lily’. The daylily can be combined with butterflies to …

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