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Chinese Culture >> Chinese Art

Chinese Art and Its Meaning

Whether it is a painting, wall scroll, hand fan, porcelain or other object, Chinese art can be enjoyed for its unexplainable qualities that make it pleasing to the eye. But the subjects of Chinese art also have ancient meanings. Three Chinese have long taken these meanings into consideration when giving or receiving gifts. Here are a few objects used as subjects in Chinese art, and their meanings:

Bats - Bats in western culture most always are thought of in a negative sense. But in China, the bat is a sign of good luck. Two bats are even better - double good luck. The depiction of five bats represents the five blessings of wealth, health, virtue, a long life and a natural death.

Cranes - The crane represents longevity. A pair of cranes represents longevity in a relationship as cranes mate for life.

Dragons - Like the bat, dragons in western culture are thought of as bad creatures, while in China they represent positive attributes. The dragon can represent many things. Good fortune, energy, power, and success.

Bamboo - The attributes of bamboo are taken from the way it grows in nature. Bamboo is a plant that is delicate yet strong. It bends in the strongest of winds, but seldom breaks. Its delicate leaves over slender stems represent the combination of vitality and durability.

Peony - Most Chinese flowers are associated with love and female beauty. The peony is also known as the 'flower of wealth and honor' in China.

Lotus - A sacred symbol of Buddhism, the lotus rises out of the muddy river and lake bed into a representation of purity and perfection.

Pine Tree - Holds it greenery year-round thus represents longevity and endurance. It is also a hardy tree, and represents ongoing life in the face of adversity.

Tiger - Bravery, courage and strength.

Duck - A symbol of married bliss. A pair of ducks also brings longevity to the marriage. Most birds that are represented in pairs have the attribute of longevity for a relationship.

Peach - The fruit of a long and healthy life.

About the Author

Alan Beggerow along with his wife Cathleen owns and operates Cathleen's Bargain Basement, an online business that offers custom made apparel and hand crafted teddy bears by Cathleen, and also offers a selection of jewelry, home decor, Asian motif items, and much more. Visit them at Alan is also a free lance writer. For further examples of his writings, visit his political and current events blog Random Thoughts at