Chinese Symbolism

CRANE - An emblem of longevity and superhuman wisdom. Cranes are the flying steeds of the immortals, their other celestial locomotion being clouds. The crane is also believed to carry the souls of the dead to the Western Heaven. Cranes flying into the sky symbolize a rise in status. 
CRICKET - The cricket symbolizes a fighting spirit. 
DEER - The deer is the only animal able to find the sacred fungus of immortality. Represents "official emolument." The God of Longevity usually depicted mounted on a stag or standing by his side. 
DOUBLE-GOURD - A microcosm containing heaven and earth. Scrolling double-gourds, bats and the character "shou" show a wish for long life and many sons. 
DOVE - The dove represents fidelity and longevity. 
DRAGON - The dragon is the imperial emblem of the Emperors from the Han period, the coat of arms being two dragons contesting the fiery pearl. There is a theory that during the Yuan and Ming periods decoration of a five-clawed dragon was for imperial use only. Certain objects have had the fifth claw carefully removed, thereby downgrading the status of the piece, perhaps because these objects had been stolen from the palace. Four claws indicates a prince, and three or less an official. 
DUCK - Symbol of conjugal fidelity. Pairs of Mandarin ducks swimming amongst waterweeds are particularly favoured as a design on 14th century blue and white Chinese porcelain. 
EAGLE - The eagle represents strength.
elephant image
ELEPHANT - Strength and astuteness, as well as high moral standards. 
ENDLESS KNOT - Long life without setbacks. 
FISH - Symbol for wealth. A pair of fish symbolizes marriage, conjugal felicity, fertility and tenacity. (Also see Carp) 
FISHERMAN - One of the four basic occupations (the others being the woodcutter, peasant and the scholar.) 
GOOSE - The goose symbolizes a blissful marriage. 
HORSE - Emblem of speed and perseverance. The legend of the eight horses of Mu Wang is often used as a decorative motif. 
LION - Also known as "Dogs of Fu" or "Fu Dogs," they were symbols of superhuman strength and as protectors and mounts of holy beings. They are emblems of valour and energy. Fu dogs are often depicted in pairs: The male has a paw on a brocaded ball which represents the jewel of the law, a pearl, or an egg enclosing a cub. The female has a small cub at her feet, which is oftentimes biting the mother's tongue. 

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