Mandarin Duck -- a Valentine's symbol

Mandarin ducks are always in pairs with the male on the left and female on the right.

They fly together, play together, and roost together. (sounds like some couples you know?) If one of the two birds dies, its mate would not take another partner. Romantic uh?

Mandarin ducks are the ultimate symbol of love and marriage.

So next time you see a couple that’s inseparable, you can say, “oh, they’re a pair of Mandarin ducks.”

(Just like this beautifully sculpted pair of Jade Mandarin ducks. Click on them to see more.)

There’s actually a fantastical story behind the Mandarin Ducks:

Two thousand years ago (yes, these stories always seem to start 2,000 years ago), a senior official by the name Hong Fu from Jin county retired and returned to his hometown.

The old scholar decided to make a garden and hired a young gardener by the name Yuan Ge to do the work. While planting trees during Qing Ming, YH heard a cry of help from the lotus pond (lotus ponds are a centre feature of Chinese gardens). It was Hong’s daughter Yuan Mei who had fallen into the water.

Immediately, YG jumped into the water and saved the lass. When HF came onto the scene, he accused YG of assaulting his daughter, causing her to fall into the pond.

That night the thankful YM brought her hero YG a multicolored coat. When HF heard of this, he ripped the coat from YG and had him tied to a large stone and thrown into the pond. (I guess the official really didn’t want his daughter to have anything to do with a poor gardener and turned murderous.)

YM was distraught and in an ultimate act of sacrifice threw herself into the pond a second time. This time round, she died. Next day, two birds with vibrantly colored fur was spotted on the pond. It’s said to be the spirits of YG and YM who could not be separated by death.

(By the way I found this beautiful East-West style framed painting of a Mandarin duck that'll liven up any room in the house. Click the left pic to see more.)

A sad and sweet story. Legends being what they are, no one knows whether they’re true.

If you'll like to know the full story read this book: