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___ Symbolism of Flowers, Fruits and Trees in Chinese Decoration and Decorative Arts

In Chinese decorative arts pictured flowers, fruits, and trees are representations for various aspects of life. Knowing the symbolic meaning of a plant enables you to understand the hidden message.

Every flower, branch and leave is counted to ensure irregularity (especially in displays); an odd number is preferable since it is meant to convey the dynamic irregularity of the life force itself. Unopened buds should always be included among flowers in bloom, as they represent life’s continuous journey.
The colours of the plants should coordinate with the colour of the container, appearing to spill naturally out of it.

Below a brief list of the symbolic:

Apple - peaceloving
apple blossom - beauty
apple and magnolia - wishful positive thoughts for a beautiful = rich household

Apricot - beauty, beautyful woman, spring and good fortune

Bamboo - youth, suppleness, strength, endurance, flexibility, longevity (also symbol of summer)
bamboo, lucky - luck, money, quick achievement, strength, endurance

Basket of fruit or flowers - one of the Eight Immortals

Carnation - marriage

Cherry blossoms - power, feminine beauty and sexuality

Chrysanthemum - intellectual accomplishments, cleansing qualities, cure illnesses, longevity, considered to be the ‚'gentleman of flowers' (also symbol of autumn)

Jujube (date), red coloured - wealth, prosperity, fertility

Kumquat - prosperity

Lily - innocence

Lotus - purity
lotus, flower - enlightenment
lotus, seeds - prosperity, offsprings
lotus, stem - connection to origin
Lotus is one of the Eight Buddhist Symbols of good fortune, an attribute of He Xian Gu of the Eight Immortals.

Magnolia - beautiful woman

Narcissus (daffodil) - prosperity


Orchid - elegance (also symbol of spring)

Peach blossom - luck
peach fruit - long life, association of immortality, divine fruit of gods
The peach of immortality in Chinese mythology (蟠桃; pántáo) can make people perpetually young.
peach petals - state of intense trance of love
peach tree - longevity
peach wood - ward off evil
The sacred tree of immortality is a peach tree. In Chinese Taoist mythology, the peach of immortality grew in the garden of Hsi wang mu (Chinese: 西王母; pinyin: Xīwángmǔ; “Queen Mother of the West”). When the fruit ripened every 3,000 years, the event was celebrated by a sumptuous banquet attended by the “Eight Immortals”.

Peony - beauty, rank, higher social status, luxury, opulence

Pine trees - longevity, steadfastness, and self-discipline, endurance, long life, the pine is often depicted in chinese art with other symbols of longevity such as the peach, the god Sau (god of longevity), a deer, and also mentioned in the tales of the Eight Immortals.

Plum blossom - strong personality, unafraid of difficulties (also symbol of winter, since the tree blossoms in the end of winter)
plum blossoms and butterflies - beauty, long life

Pomgranate - keeping, hoping to keep the title or rank from generation to generation in the same family

Sunflower - to have a good year

Tangerine, orange - abundant happiness

Willow branch- being able to bend (or adapt) but not break

See also:
Symbolism of Animals
Symbolism of Colours
Symbolism of Food
Chinese Beliefs
Feng Shui
Lion Dance Mask
Lotus symbolises purity, although growing from mud, it is unstained.
Photo © Valeska Gehrmann


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