Chinese designs (2)

(Posted on 07/06/14)

Chinese designs (2)

Shou and Fu characters: Usually symbolize long life and good luck.  Other characters may also be found, but it is common practice to refer to all symbolic characters as Shou (or Fu) symbols, regardless of their exact form or meaning.

Swastika pattern: One of the most universal of all designs; it is found in artistic and religious expression of cultures as far apart as America, Europe and India, as well as China, and has been ascribed many meanings; the most popular of this are happiness, the heart of the Buddha and the number 10,000.

Chinese fret: Based on interlocking swastikas.  It is sometimes referred to as the wan design (wan being the Chinese character for 10,000) and represents 10,000 happinesses.

Yin/Yang wheel: The symbol of creation and life, representing the Yin (female) and Yang (male) aspects of the life-force. It is sometimes enclosed in an octagonal form which contains the 'eight tetragrams' (pa kua) representing heaven, wind, earth, fire, water, mountain, thunder and cloud.

Ju-i sceptre: Used by the highest deity in heaven, its head is formed into the shape of a cloud.  It is often represented in rug as a cloud with a short tail, and is generally accepted as symbolizing a wish, or the hope that a wish be fulfilled.

Vase: (p'ing) Symbol of peace.

Table: (an) Signifies tranquillity.

The eight Taoist symbols: These embody the attributes of the eight immortal spirits (pahsien), who are perceived in human form through their associated objects.  It is, of course, impossible to explore these symbols in any depth, but the following meanings are those commonly ascribed.  They may be found either collectively or individually.

(1) Sword: supernatural power

(2) Staff and gourd: transmutation and the concocting of medicines

(3) Lotus pod: the seat of all power and life

(4) Flute: performing magic

(5) Bamboo: telling fortunes and predicting the future

(6) Fan: reviving the souls of the departed

(7) Castanets: exerting a soothing influence

(8) Basket of flowers: supernatural power through blossoms.