emblem | Ancient Chinese Culture

Posts Tagged emblem

Qilin

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Along with tortoise, dragon and phoenix, qilin is one of the four holy animals in Chinese mythology. It is sometimes described as unicorn in English.  However, actually, in many depictions, it has two horns. It has the head of a dragon, the body of a deer, the tail of an ox and the hooves of a horse.

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Qilin is always depicted as a gentle and friendly animal. When it walks on flowers and grass, it never cause any harm to them. It eats a vegetarian diet and avoids causing harm to any living beings.

It is associated with sages and other wise people and it will only appear in areas ruled by a wise and benevolent leader. It is said to be a bringer of glad tidings, foretelling that a sage or a great people is to come. Legend has it that a qilin appeared to the pregnant mother of Confucius. Therefore, in Chinese old custom, the pictures of qilin were always displayed in the pregnant mother’s bedroom in the hope of bearing a child of great intelligence.

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Chinese Phoenix

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Phoenix,known in Chinese as Fenghuang, is a mythological bird which reigns over the feathered world. Its image has appeared in China for over 4,000 years. It is said that it only drinks from sacred springs, feeds on bamboo seeds and nests in Chinese plane trees.

Along with unicorn Qilin, tortoise Guixian and dragon Long, Phoenix is one of the four holy animals in Chinese mythology.

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In Chinese culture, it is a symbol of high virtue and grace. As it also symbolizes yin (female), it is always paired with Chinese dragon which has yang (male) connotations.

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Chinese Dragon

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Dragons have been deeply rooted in the Chinese culture. China has been praised as “The Giant Dragon of the East”. Chinese around the world, proudly proclaim themselves as the descendants of the dragon.

In ancient China, nearly all the things connected with the emperor were preceded by the epithet “dragon”, thus, dragon seat (refer to throne), dragon robe (refer to emperor’s ceremonial dress), etc. Until now, its image shows up in arts, literature, poetry, songs and all aspects of Chinese civilization.

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Unlike the negative image with Western Dragons, in China, it symbolizes power, excellence, boldness and heroism. Nobody knows the origin of Chinese dragon, but all the Chinese believed that everything connected with dragons is blessed.

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Feather Man

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Yu Ren, slso known as feather man, was a fairy in Chinese culture. The fairy was always depicted with the body of a bird, the head of a man, and the wings of a bird.

Taoism believes that when Taoists approach to immortality, their two arms would transform to two wings and fly freely in the air. Yu Ren is regarded as the assistants during the access to immortality. Hence, its image can always be found in tombs or on coffins.

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It was also one of the original images for diva in Chinese Buddhism. Yu Ren also represents the ancient Chinese’s pursue for freedom.

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Peach Blossom Spring – Chinese Shangri-la

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More than a thousand years ago, Tao Yuan Ming, a famous Chinese poet who lived during the Eastern Jin dynasty, wrote a well-known work, Peach Blossom Spring (Tao Hua Yuan).

In this work, he described the story of a fisherman who discovered a land hidden from outside civilization. Blessed with fertile fields and beautiful landscape, the inhabitants of the land enjoyed a carefree and happy life. He constructed an ideal society, a utopia, which he was searching for.

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Since then, the land described in Tao’s work has been a renowned scenic spot ever. Peach Blossom Spring becomes a synonym for “utopis” in Chinese culture.

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