The Lotus Flower – One of the most auspicious Chinese symbols!
Lotus flower “he2hua1” is also known as “lian2hua1”. The lotus symbolizes many auspicious things.
In Buddhism, the lotus refers to the Buddha. Statues of the Buddha are placed on a bed of lotus flowers known as the lotus throne.
But even though the symbol of the lotus has its origins in Buddhism, over the years it has entered mainstream use and has come to represent a high level of moral cultivation of a person, for the lotus arises from dirty mud but remains unsoiled by it. The lotus flower stands for purity and beauty.
The lotus flower also symbolizes summer as it is in full bloom during hot summer days.
The character “he2” of lotus flower “he2hua1” sounds like harmony “he2” and union, also “he2”. Thus the lotus also symbolizes love and harmony between husband and wife. (See Gods of unity and harmony.) At the same time “lian2” as in lotus flower “lian2hua1” refers to the term “lian2li3” meaning a couple very much in love.
When the lotus flower is pictured with a fish it means abundance year after year “lian2nian2you3yu2”. “lian2nian2” is “year after year” and “you3yu2” is “surplus or abundance”. This is an auspicious greeting or wish used during Chinese New Year, or at the opening of a friend’s business (e.g. restaurant, salon, company).
A picture of a pair of mandarin ducks (they are always featured as a male and female pair) swimming in a pond with lotus flowers is the visual pun for “yuan1yang1xi4shui3”. “yuan1yang1” means “mandarin ducks” and “xi4shui3” means “playing among lotus”. “Mandarin ducks playing among lotus” means that a couple is inseparable and deeply in love.
When the lotus flower is pictured with the egret it means “yi1lu4lian2ke1” – a straight road to success. “yi1lu4” means “one road” and “lian2ke1” is used in olden times to refer to refer to passing the imperial examinations successively. You can use “yi1lu4lian2ke1” to wish a student success in his examinations and an adult success in his or her career.
Lastly, let’s not forget the lotus seed. The lotus seed “lian2zi3” also has auspicious meanings – fruitfulness, plenty and many offspring. A picture of a lotus seedpod with many seeds means giving birth to many sons -- as early as possible!
To continue receiving articles about the designs and uses of Chinese symbols and characters in China,
like this one about the lotus flower,
subscribe to my free Chinese Symbols Ezine. You'll receive a free practical guide to pronouncing Chinese words using English alphabets when you sign up.