Chinese Symbol and Meaning
for A Happy and Prosperous Life

Chinese Symbol and Meaning for Good Fortune

Would you like to have more Good Fortune?

You can -- by creating a “surrounding” that attracts Good Fortune.

That’s what the Chinese have been doing for the last 2,000 years and continue to do today.

Chinese people believe they can attract Good Fortune and avert misfortune into by speaking "lucky" words and surrounding themselves with "lucky" objects.

Auspicious Chinese symbols are found everywhere – on arts, crafts, architecture, household objects, and are part of celebrations, special occasions etc.

Good Fortune is central to all aspects of Chinese life and culture.chinese symbol and meaning

Five types of Good Fortune are most sought after by the Chinese – Good Luck, Prosperity, Longevity, Happiness and Wealth.

Here they are, with the auspicious objects, plants and animals that represent each of them:

  1. Good Luck,fu2 福
  2. Chinese scepter ru2 yi4 如意 -- Everything as you wish!

    The Chinese Bat bian3 fu2 蝙蝠 -- this noctunal creature brings you luck!

  3. Propsperity lu4 禄,
  4. Peony mu3 dan1 牡丹-- Queen of Flowers, a symbol of prosperity and nobility

    Chinese Carp Jumping over the Dragon's Gate li3 yu2 tiao4 long2 men2 鲤鱼跳龙门-- success in exams and career

  5. Longevity shou4 寿,
  6. Bamboo zhu2 竹-- endurance and courage in the face of adversity

    White Crane ba2 he4 白鹤-- long life and perfect poise

  7. Happiness xi3 喜
  8. Mandarin Ducks yuan1 yang1 鸳鸯a lovey-dovey pair that's inseparable

    Lotus lian2 hua1 连花 -- harmony and love between husband and wife, continuity of luck, wealth, promotions and children

  9. Wealth cai2 财.
  10. The Number Eight ba1 八 -- You can't get luckier than this number!

    Eight Buddhist Symbols ba1 ji2 xiang2 八吉祥 -- Conch Shell, Jar, Wheel of Life, Canopy, Lotus, Vase, Gold Fish, and Endless Knot

These five are known as the Five Fortunes or Blessings.

There are many ji2 xiang2 tu2 an4 "Propitious Designs" depicting the Five Fortunes.

Lucky pictures and patterns are pasted on doors, windows and walls the of home to bring good luck and ward off misfortune.

These traditional folk arts are brilliant representations of Chinese good luck folk culture. This site features many ji xiang tu an.

Characteristics of Chinese Symbols

All Chinese characters are visual symbols; they are not only ways of notating sound, which is the usual function of writing. More than 80% of modern Chinese characters are ideograms.

An emphasis on Chinese symbol and meaning permeates the daily life of the Chinese person and goes beyond writing.

For instance, many wishes spoken to another person or choice of gifts to a friend have good meanings such as prosperity in career and business, longevity, a safe journey etc.

A word or picture is a symbol if it contains more than can be grasped at first glance. For instance, Chinese paintings are meant to be viewed as symbols.

When you view a Chinese landscape painting with the theme of lofty mountains and flowing rivers beyond a wooded forest, the mountains, water and trees not only represent themselves but also mean something beyond the objects themselves.

For instance, pine trees a frequent object in Chinese paintings represent longevity.

The picture as a whole, together with its rich symbolic detail, not only gives a viewer pleasure but also transmits an indirect message to him or her.

Of course not everyone will understand the "hidden" meaning. The added pleasure in enjoying the painting then is to "get" the message.

Therefore, master Chinese artists imbue their creations with symbols of good meanings.

Most Chinese symbol and meaning can be observed with the eye.

Others however are "phonetic" symbols (understood through their sound).

For example, fu2 means "good luck" but fu2 also refers to "bat", so the bat symbolizes good luck.

The interplay of phonetics and puns often reveal the hidden meanings of Chinese symbols.

Hence a picture of a fish is an expression of abundance because the Chinese word for fish yu2 means "abundance". This is a “visual pun” or what’s known as a rebus.

A rebus is a puzzle in which the syllables of words and names are represented by pictures of things that sound the same.

Rebuses are plentiful in Chinese culture because the multiple tones of the Chinese language (e.g. there are 4 tones in Mandarin) allows for many puns.

Although there are many, many Chinese symbols they all concern the few basic things: to live a long and healthy life, to attain high rank and achieve great wealth, to have children (usually sons).

The language of Chinese symbol and meaning extend to

  1. shapes (e.g. the yin yang symbol, gourd)
  2. colors (e.g. red, gold)
  3. people/deities (e.g. Buddha, Gods of Luck, Prosperity, and Longevity)
  4. animals (e.g. bats, tortoise, phoenix, dragon)
  5. plants (e.g. lotus, peony, plum blossom)
  6. fruits (e.g. mandarin orange, peach, pomegranate)
  7. motifs, calligraphy, rebuses and paintings
Chinese symbol and meaning: A hat holder from Tongzhi period (1862-1874. It is painted with a magpie (symbolizing happiness) and peony (symbolizing wealth). Part of my ceramics collection

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