Jade Carving Symbols

Posted on 06 September 2016

CHINESE ART SYMBOLS
Although many diverse cultures have carved jade, it is really the Chinese who have raised it to the level of an art. The master Chinese carvers grew more bold and ambitious with the discovery of jadeite jade several hundred year ago. The colors of jadeite jade were more diverse and vivid than the soapy, bland tones of nephrite jade. Using the material very wisely, they have created some of the most extraordinary gemstome carvings in the world.

Symbolism is key in Chinese culture. Everything has a meaning. Most art symbols are taken directly from nature and are an essential aspect of Chinese art. Most pieces follow classical patterns and motifs; listed below are some of the more common symbols and a brief description.
APPLE (APPLE BLOSSOM)
Symbolic of feminine beauty and eternal peace
APRICOT
Representation of the Chinese female
ALMOND
Representation of the Chinese female
ARCHERS RING
Prestige & symbolic of the emperors' power
AXE
Symbolic of the marriage go-between
BAMBOO
Longevity, durability and resilience
BAT
Happiness and longevity
BEAR
Strength, courage and bravery
BEE
Industriousness and prudence
BELL
Respect and reverence to one's superiors
PIG/BOAR
Wealth and prosperity, especially for business - #12 in the Chinese Zodiac sign chart
BROOM
Insight, wisdom; the 'sweeping away' of worries
BUDDHA'S HAND (CITRON PLANT)
Wealth, and the symbol of Buddha's Hand
BUTTERFLY
A symbol of love, especially young love
CAT
Protector against evil spirits of the night. (Double cats are symbolic of conjugal bliss.)
CHRYSANTHEMUM
Joviality; a life of ease after retirement
CICADA
Immortality and resurrection; happiness and eternal youth
COIN
Prosperity and wealth
CONCH SHELL
Insignia of royalty and a symbol of a prosperous voyage
CRANE
Symbol of longevity; conveyor of the soul to the Western Heaven
CRICKET
Symbol of courage and the symbol of summer
CROW
Filial piety; known to take care of its elderly disabled parents
CHERRY
Symbol for beauty, cosmetic and medicinal properties,emblem of the fair sex
DEER
Symbol of immortality and longevity
DOG
Symbol of fidelity - #11 in the Chinese Zodiac sign chart
DOG OF "FO" OR FU-DOG (ACTUALLY A FORM OF LION)
Courageous and fierce, symbol for engery and valor; protector
DOVE (OR PIGEON)
Symbol of long life. The “pigeon-staff” is a symbol of protracted longevity and filial duty.
DRAGON
Symbol of imperial power, strength, goodness vigilance and safe-guard; Yang Principal - Masculine - #5 in the Chinese Zodiac sign chart
DUCK
Emblem of felicity and symbol of conjugal fidelity
EAGLE, FALCON
Boldness, strength, and keen vision; authority
EIGHT TRIGRAMS
Yin & Yang, Forces of nature (I Ching)
ELEPHANT
Strength, sagacity, and prudence, power of energy
FIRE
Symbolic of danger, speed, anger, ferocity, and lust; motif of happiness, longevity & gladness
FISH
Wealth and abundance, harmony and connubial bliss, symbol of regeneration and freedom (Double fish: connubial bliss, harmony)
FLYWHISK
Symbolic of leadership, and mercy
FOX
Craftiness, cunning, "mischief" in love affairs
FROG OR TOAD
Good fortune in gambling or money-making. The Three-Legged Frog symbolizes 'magic' for the 'unattainable'
FUNGUS (MUSHROOM)
Symbol of longevity or immortality
GOAT OR SHEEP (RAM)
Emblem of retired life - #8 in the Chinese Zodiac sign chart
GOURD
Symbol of mystery, sorcery and magic
HEART
It is one of the five centers of emotional feelings; cycle of love
HORSE
Symbol of speed and perseverance - #7 in the Chinese Zodiac sign chart
HYDRA (SPLIT-TAILED DRAGON)
Young dragons; playfulness also having the magical powers of geomancy
JU-I
A "scepter" symbolic of Buddhist principals
KEY PATTERN (MEANDER PATTERN)
Symbolic of thunder and clouds
KUAN YIN
Goddess of mercy who tames the forces of nature with mercy and compassion
ENDLESS KNOT
Symbol of longevity, true love, "wheel" of life
LEAF
Emblem of felicity
LION
Defender of law and protector of sacred buildings
LOTUS
Symbol of purity, perfection and enlightenment
LOHAN OR ARHAT
Buddhist ascetic & the personal disciples of the Buddha
LUTE
A string instrument that produces thoughts of fidelity and purity
MONKEY
Emblem of trickery; protection against malicious spirits - #9 in the Chinese Zodiac sign chart
MOON
Essence of the female or yin qualities in nature
OX (COW)
Spring; agriculture - #2 in the Chinese Zodiac sign Chart
PALM
Retired life
PEACH
Emblem of marriage; symbol of immortality and springtime
PEAR
Symbol of longevity
PEARL
Feminine beauty and purity
PI (PERFORATED DISK)
Power and authority; early symbol of sun
PIG/BOAR
Wealth and prosperity, especially for business - #12 in the Chinese Zodiac sign chart
PINE
Emblem for longevity and friendship that prevails through hardship
PHOENIX
Symbol of sun or the Yin Principle - Feminine
PLUM
Symbol of winter and longevity
POMEGRANATE
Symbol of fertility
QUAIL
Symbol of courage and pugnacity
RABBIT/HARE
Symbol of longevity - #4 in the Chinese Zodiac sign chart
RAT
Symbol of industry and prosperity #1 In Chinese Zodiac sign chart
GOAT OR SHEEP (RAM)
#8 in Chinese Zodiac sign chart
RICE GRAINS
Emblen of fecundity and a good harvest
ROOSTER
Symbolic of beginnings and the dawning of a new day #10 in the Chinese Zodiac sign chart
SHEEP OR GOAT (RAM)
#8 in Chinese Zodiac Signs
SNAKE
Symbolic of cunning and evil but also respected for its supernatural powers - #6 in the Chinese Zodiac signs chart
SNUFF BOTTLES
Status symbol for upper class
SPIDER
Protector against evil spirits
STORK
Longevity and unfettered liberty
SUN
Essence of the male principal in nature
TAEL
Chinese unit of gold weight; symbolic of wealth or its aquisition
TIGER
Courage, dignity, military power (lord of all land creatures) - #3 in the Chinese Zodiac sign chart
TURTLE/TORTOISE
Symbol of longevity, strength, endurance
UMBRELLA
Symbol of respect, protection
UNICORN
Symbol of longevity, grandeur, felicity, illustrious offspring, and wise administration
WILLOW
Symbol of beautiful in life and undivided in death
YIN-YANG
The Chinese principal of cosmic duality, negative and positive principles of universal life

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