LUCK

Bat = Luck

 

The bat is a symbol of good fortune because the word 'bat', 'bian fu', is a play on the word 'luck', 'fu'. A drawing of two bats facing each other represents 'double luck', shuang fu. A red bat is an especially lucky omen because red is believed to be the color that wards off evil and 'red' is pronounced the same as 'vast', hong. Together, a bat paired with a coin means 'luck before your eyes', fu zai yan qian. The bat is also associated with longevity because the 'Book of Herbal Medicine', Ben cao gang mu, written at the end of the sixteenth century, states that the bat lives to a great age and its blood, gall bladder, and wings have medicinal benefits for eyesight and long life. 

 

Five bats grouped create the extremely auspicious and popular motif ‘five good fortunes’, wu fu – longevity, wealth, health, love of virtue, and natural death. The phrase ‘may the five fortunes arrive at one’s door, wu fu lin men, is a common wish. When the five bats are arranged in a circle around the Chinese character for longevity, the result is a rebus for wu fu peng shou, an extremely powerful motif for good fortune and longevity. An image of five bats flying above a round box or container signifies ‘harmony and the five fortunes’, wu fu he he, because ‘box’ and ‘harmony’ both sounds the same, ‘he’.

 

蝙蝠 = 福

 

在中國,蝙蝠是個象徵福氣的符號,因為「蝠」與「福」諧 音。兩隻蝙蝠相對的圖案象徵「雙福」。紅蝙蝠更被視為吉兆,因為人們相信紅色能驅魔祛邪,而且「紅」與「洪」諧音。成雙的蝙蝠與古錢放在一起,寓意「福在眼前」,因為中國古錢中間的方孔叫「眼」,而「錢」與「前」諧音。十六世紀完成的古代醫書《本草綱目》曾記載:蝙蝠能存活相當久,而牠的血液、膽囊和翼翅均具有藥效, 能明目和延壽,所以蝙蝠又與長壽密切關聯。

 

五只蝙蝠圍成一圈,則構成廣為流行的吉祥圖案《五福臨門》―長壽、富裕、健康、美德和善終。當五只蝙蝠圍著「壽」字排列,就創造出「五福捧壽」的寓意,成為「福」與「壽」的精彩設計。五只蝙蝠盤旋在圓盒之上,寓意「五福和合(盒)」,因為「盒」與「合」諧音。

Scepter (ru yi) = everything as you wish

 

The ru yi scepter is a short sword that symbolizes ‘everything as you wish’. It is the first of the eight Buddhist treasures, and its shape is said to have been derived from the magic fungus of immortality, ling zhi. When given as a present, the scepter conveys whishes for good fortune and prosperity. The earliest scepters, made of iron, were used as weapons. Later versions were in gold, silver, jade, amber, porcelain, bone, or wood. An image of the ru yi combined with a vase, ping, representing peace, forms the rebus ping an ru yi, meaning ‘may you have the peace and everything you wish.’ When the Gods of Peace and Harmony, He he er xian, are shown holding a ru yi, it symbolizes ‘harmony and everything as you wish,’ he he ru yi.

 

如意

 

如意有一切如意的含意,是一種短劍式的節杖,也是佛教八樣法寶之首。相傳它的外形起源於神秘的菌蕈類植物―靈芝,作為禮物送人,象徵著祝福和成功。最早的如意是用鐵做的,作為武器使用。後來金的、銀的、玉的、琥珀、陶瓷、骨的、木的各種樣式都有。如意和花瓶在一起組成的圖案,寓意「平安如意」。和合二仙捧著如意,則象徵「和合如意」。

Gourd

 

The gourd is said to embody heaven and earth, and to contain spiritual energy that wards off evil spirits. It is often hung for protection above a door or window, at the head of a bed, or in a vehicle. One of the Taoist treasures, the gourd, hu lu, is also a vessel for magic elixirs. Li Tie Guai, one of the Eight Immortals and a master magician, carries the gourd as his treasure.

 

Legend of the gourd: In the sixteenth-century novel ‘Journey to the West’, the Money King, Sun Wu Kong, hears that the demons are on their way to capture him, using their magic gourd. Disguising himself as an immortal, he intercepts them. When the demons show him their gourd he claims can hold a thousand people, the Monkey King reveals a gourd he claims can hold the entire heavens. Impressed by his treasure, the demons bargain to swap with him if he can prove that his gourd really has the power to contain the sky. By obtaining permission from the spirits to block the light of the sun, moon and stars for one hour, the Monkey King is able to fool the demons into believing he has bottled the heavens in his ordinary gourd and thus is triumphant in acquiring their magic one.

 

 

 

葫蘆

 

相傳葫蘆能將天地均容納其中,能以靈氣驅逐邪氣,因此人們將葫蘆懸掛在門上、窗戶裡、床頭以及汽車內,以驅邪避惡。葫蘆也是道士的法寶之一,內裝神奇的萬靈藥,「八仙」之一的鐵拐李正因為有葫蘆作他的法寶,而成為魔法大師。

 

葫蘆的傳說:美猴王孫悟空,是十六世紀神話小說《西游記》裡著名的主角。他偷聽到兩個小妖怪準備用神奇的紅葫蘆來捕捉他,於是他就搖身變作一名老真人,等在路邊。當小妖怪向他炫耀寶葫蘆能裝一千人時,猴王變出一個假葫蘆,宣稱他的法寶能裝天。小妖怪被這樣的法寶吸引住了,就與他討價還價,說如果他証實了他的法 寶真有魔力裝天,它們就拿紅葫蘆與他交換。猴王立即與天上的神靈聯絡,求得將日月星辰遮閉半個時辰,使小妖怪相信天的確被裝進了他的假葫蘆裡,從而得意洋洋地將寶葫蘆騙到手,最終打敗了妖怪。

Cloud (yun) = Luck (yun)

 

Because the word for ‘cloud’, yun, and the word for ‘good luck’, yun, sound similar, this symbol is often referred to as the ‘auspicious cloud’, xiang yun. A typical auspicious cloud is five colored, wu se yun, and represents five layers of fortune and happiness. The cloud has become a popular motif in architecture, textile designs, and everyday objects. When it is repeated in a pattern, it symbolizes never-ending fortune. The stylized rendering of the cloud motif is similar in form to the fungus of immortality, ling zhi, and the ru yi scepter. Numerous gods and immortals used the cloud as a vehicle on which they traveled.

 

 

 

 

鑒於「雲」與「運」諧音,「雲」常稱之為「祥雲」,即吉祥、幸運之意。具有代表性的是「五色雲」,象微著「五福」。所以,雲的圖案就廣泛地應於建築、紡織品以及日常用品的設計上。雲的圖案連綿不斷,就創造出「福運無邊」的寓意。裝飾風格的雲的圖案就象神仙的靈芝和如意,不少神仙都乘雲遨遊。

Buddha’s hand (fo shou) = luck (fu)

 

The finger-shaped citron known as Buddha’s hand (Citrus medica), fo shou, stands for luck and happiness. The first character, fo, meaning ‘Buddha’, sounds much like fu, the word for ‘luck’. An image of a Buddha’s hand together with a peach and a pomegranate signifies ‘may you have an abundance of luck, longevity, and children.’ The peach symbolizes longevity, the pomegranate fertility. The fruit is also a symbol of Buddhism because the upturned fingers resemble the classic position of a Buddha’s hand.

 

 

 

佛手

 

佛手即香櫞,形狀如手,充當為佛之手,「佛」與「福」諧音,因此表示「福運」之意。佛手與桃、石榴放在一起,代表福運、長壽和多子多孫。其中桃象徵「壽」,石榴象徵「生育」。由於佛手的形狀與佛的「手印」相似,所以也成為佛的象徵。

祿

PROSPERITY

Ingot

 

A popular symbol of prosperity, yuan bao are hat-shaped gold and silver ingots used as money in ancient China. Scholars who passes the imperial examinations with the highest marks were referred to as jie yuan, hui yuan, and zhuang yuan, collectively referred to as the ‘three yuans.’ Because the word for ingots also contains yuan, a picture of three ingots creates a rebus for the ‘three yuans,’ san yuan, making it a symbol of status and honor. The lichee, longan, and walnut in combination also represent the ‘three yuans,’ as they are all round in shape, and the word for ‘round’ is pronounced yuan.

 

元寶

 

元寶,即帽狀的金錠、銀錠,在中國古代用作為錢幣,也象微著財富和成功。那些通過古代科舉三試、名列榜首的讀書人稱為「三元」―解元、會元、狀元。由於元寶有「元」字,所以三個元寶即寓意「三元」,作為功成名就的有力象徵。荔枝、桂圓和核桃組合在一起,由於其圓形與「元」同音,也代表「三元」。

LONGEVITY

Tortoise

 

A spiritual creature, the tortoise conceals the secrets of the universe. Its shell was once an important medium in divination, and the first Chinese characters have been discovered inscribed on its surface. A tortoise’s shell naturally divided into twenty-four sections, which correspond to the twenty-four solar terms of the lunar calendar. Due to the creature’s long life and ability to endure hunger and thirst, the term ‘tortoise years’, gui ling, is a metaphor for long life. The tortoise is often paired with the crane in auspicious pictures to wish one a long life, such as ‘the tortoise and crane extend long life,’ gui he yan nian. Pan Gu, the creator of the universe in Chinese mythology, was attended by a tortoise.

 

 

 

中國人相信,龜是隱藏著宇宙間秘密的靈物,因此龜甲成為占卜的靈媒。人們發現,最早的中國文字就刻在龜甲上。龜甲上自然分割的二十四板塊,與農曆的二十四個節氣相一致。龜能忍饑渴,壽命極長,因此成了長壽的象徵,「龜齡」即比喻人之長壽。龜與鶴經常被畫在一起,構成《龜齡鶴壽》、《龜鶴延年》的吉祥圖像。中國神話中開天劈地的盤古,正是由神龜伴隨而來,降臨於世。

Peach

 

Use of the peach as a symbol of longevity originated over two thousand years ago. ‘Longevity peaches’ are steamed buns made of dough shaped like a peach and filled with red beans, date or lotus-seed paste. The buns are served at an elder’s birthday to wish long life and good health for many years to come. Not only the fruit but also the wood and blossoms of the peach tree are symbolic. Bad spirits feared peachwood and so peachwood charms were often hung outside doors or gates to keep them away. Door gods would be engraved or drawn on peachwood, or only their names would be written on peachwood. Peach pits were carved into little amulets and given to children to protect them and ensure long life. Classical poems and texts often mention peach blossoms as metaphors for springtime and beauty.

 

 

用桃來象徵長壽,源於兩千年之前。壽桃是麵粉做成的桃形蒸包,以紅豆、棗泥、蓮子為餡。在老年人誕辰時,經常用蒸麵桃來招待客人,以祝福長壽、健康。桃果不僅具有文化意義,而且桃木和桃花也都具有象徵意義。人們相信,惡鬼邪魔害怕桃木,所以桃符經常被懸掛在門外,以驅魔祛邪。門神像也曾被畫在兩塊桃木板上,而桃核則被雕刻成小小的避邪護身符,送給小孩佩帶,以保長命。桃花象徵春天和美人的比擬,在古典詩文中比比皆是。

Longevity Lock

 

Not until after one month of life, man yue, was a child’s birth celebrated in ancient China, due to the high mortality rate. At this celebrations, infants traditionally were given a longevity lock, a type of necklace that brought protection, health, and longevity. Often engraved with auspicious phrase, such as ‘may you live to one hundred years,’ chang ming bai sui, the lock is made from silver, gold, or copper, depending on the wealth of the household.

 

The longevity lock was originally a five-colored rope ornament made of red, yellow, blue, white, and black strands and was hung outside the door to guard against evil. These colors represent the five directions – north, south, east, west, and centre – which were believed to have protective powers. In later tradition, a five-colored string was hung around a child’s neck for protection and became known as ‘longevity thread,’ chang ming lu, or ‘one hundred rope,’ bai suo. In Beiping (now Beijing), families with newborns sent someone out to beg for copper coins from many households. A longevity lock was then made for the infant from the coins. This was called the ‘one hundred lives lock,’ hua bai jia suo, and represented the blessings and protection of one hundred households.

 

 

 

 

長命鎖

 

在古代中國,鑒於小孩的死亡率很高,人們在小孩滿月時就為其慶生日。給嬰兒送長命鎖(一種項鍊)作為禮物。這個傳統表達保祐、健康和長命之祝願,祝願孩子在未來,能適應不同的生活條件。

 

鎖上經常鐫刻著諸如「長命百歲」之類的吉祥語。根據家人的富裕程度,鎖分別用金、銀或銅製成。長命鎖由「長命索」演化而來。長命索通常以紅、黃、藍、白、黑五色絲線編織而成,五色分別代表東、西、南、北、中五方,被認為具有神力,懸掛在門外,可以避邪除瘟,保障兒童健康。後來,五色線演變為「長命縷」或「百索」,掛在小孩的脖子上,以求保祐。在舊時北平,新生孩子的家庭會請人挨家挨戶去乞討銅錢,然後集在一起,為嬰兒打製成長命鎖、稱為「化百家鎖」。這鎖代表著來自一百家的祝福和保祐。

WEALTH

Coins

 

Copper coins originated in the late Warring States period (480-221 B.C.). Round on the outside with a square hole in the centre, these ancient coins became a potent symbol of wealth and prosperity. The circular shape represents heaven, and the internal square signifies earth.

 

Often the coins are inscribed with lucky phrases such as chang ming fu gui, ‘a long life of wealth and abundance,’ or ji xiang ru yi, ‘as much luck as you wish.’ A picture of two coins hung above a shop door represents the God of Wealth and attracts wealth to a business. Coins strung together with red thread form a charm to bring a ‘continuous flow of wealth,’ lian qian, which is especially auspicious for business. Necklaces made from red thread and coins offer protection from evil spirits and bring luck to the wearer. The coin is also one of the eight treasures, ba bao, symbols that possess the power to draw good fortune.

 

Used as a play on words, ‘coin’ can mean ‘before one’s eyes,’ because the hole in the centre is known as an ‘eye’, yan, and the coin itself, qian, is a rebus for ‘before.’ Any number of objects can be paired with the coin in this context. For example, the ‘magpie,’ xi que, is a symbol of conjugal happiness, and thus its image in conjunction with a coin conveys the message ‘happiness before your eyes,’ xi zai yan qian.

 

古錢

 

銅製古錢產生於戰國晚期,其形狀外圓法天,內方怯地,上面經常鑄有吉祥文字,如「長命富貴」、「吉祥如意」等,從而成為財富與富貴的象徵。

 

商店門前掛兩枚古錢,代表財神,以招財進寶。用紅線連結兩枚古錢,結成一個護符,寓意「連錢」,這對做生意是特別吉利的意象。用紅線將古錢串成的項鍊,能為佩戴者避邪納福。古錢也是「八寶」之一,象徹具有神力,為人們帶來好運。「八寶」圖案經常應用於陶磁、刺繡和綰帶上。

 

由於「錢」與「前」同聲同韻,古錢上的孔又稱「眼」,組合成「眼前」之意,所以與其它許多事物例如與喜鵲相配在一起,就構成「喜在眼前」的寓意。

Fish

 

Since the word for ‘fish’ and the word for ‘plenty’, yu, are pronounced the same, fish have come to represent abundance. Fish are very auspicious during New Year, and the saying ‘may there be abundance year after year,’ nian nian you yu, is often written alongside a picture of fish in a basket. A whole fish is a popular dish served for New Year’s Eve dinner. It is a good omen to leave the bones along with the head and tail intact to symbolize surplus and also a good beginning and end.

 

An image of a child holding an oversized fish and a lotus flower is a common New Year picture that means ‘successive years of abundance,’ lian nian you yu. This is because one word for ‘lotus flower,’ lian, is pronounced the same as the word for ‘continuous.’

 

 

魚在新年期間是非常吉祥的象徵,「魚」諧音「餘」,寓意「年年有餘」。這句吉祥語常與畫一籃魚的圖案貼在一起。正是這個原因,在新年除夕吃「年夜飯」時,「全魚」就不可少。人在吃「全魚」時,魚頭與魚尾要完好保留,以討個好口彩,不僅象徵「有餘」,而且「有頭有尾」。畫一個兒童抱著一條特大鯉魚,並與蓮花在一起的年畫,寓意「連年有魚」,因「蓮」與「連」同音。

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