The legend and the mythology are privileged in the Chinese decoration, to embellish the furniture and the architecture. Here is a list of the main symbols of animals, insects or plants frequently used with their meaning.


This aromatic plant is one of the "Eight Precious Things." The symbol is used to chase disease, and when hung over a door it will disperse the bad influence.


The eagle represents strength.


Bamboo is an emblem of longevity, and is one of the 'Three Friends of Winter'. He is often depicted with pines and prunus (wild cherry).

Badger and Pie

These animals, when they are represented together, symbolize a blessing of happiness.


Emblem of courage because of its pugnacious character.


A microcosm containing heaven and earth. The calabashes, bats and the character "shou" on a banner represent a wish of long life and many sons.


Symbol of conjugal fidelity. Pairs of mandarin ducks swimming through the grasses are favored especially in the 14th century production of Chinese blue and white porcelain.


Carp is the advantage, or the gain in business. Sometimes portrayed with a dragon, refers to an expression used by the Chinese in ancient times to describe the man who obtains a high official position: "Carp jumping over the dragon's door". Nowadays, the Chinese are using it to congratulate or compliment someone with unusual abilities in a good future.


The deer is the only animal able to find the sacred mushroom of immortality. Represents "the official emolument." The longevity God is usually depicted mounted on a male or standing at his side.


The cat is the protector of silkworms, and disperses malevolent spirits. Because of their good eyesight, they would be able to see the spirits in the dark.


Emblem of good fortune. When something is represented upside down it means that it happened, so the usual representation of a bat upside down symbolizes that good fortune has arrived. The Wu Fu, or the five happiness bats, represent the five blessings: long life, wealth, health, love and a natural death.


Emblem of speed and perseverance. The legend of the eight horses of Mu Wang is often used as a decorative motif.


With plum, peony and lotus symbolizes the four seasons. It is the emblem of autumn and the symbol of gaiety. It is also a symbol of long life, or of duration.


The cicada represents immortality, or life after death.


The dove represents fidelity and longevity.

Cockerel (young rooster)

Protection against bad astral influences. He also scares the ghosts at sunrise by his singing. A rooster also represents success and fame.

Three-legged toad

Existed only on the moon, which swallowed it during the eclipse. Symbol of the inaccessible. Liu Hai, an immortal, apparently owned a three-legged toad.


Cricket symbolizes a fighting spirit.


The dragon is the imperial emblem of the emperors of the Han period, the coat of arms being two dragons fighting over the burning pearl. There is a theory that during the Yuan and Ming periods decoration with a five-clawed dragon was reserved for imperial use only. Some items had the fifth claw carefully removed, thereby downgrading the status of the room, perhaps because these items had been stolen from the palace. Four claws indicate a prince, and three or less an official.


Strength and trick, as well as high moral values.


Symbolizes fertility and, being full of seeds, a large male offspring.


An emblem of longevity and superhuman wisdom. Cranes are the flying steeds of immortals, their other means of celestial locomotion being the clouds. The crane is also supposed to carry the souls of the dead to Heaven. Cranes flying in the sky symbolize an elevation of status.


Also known as "Fu Dogs" or Keiloon, they were symbols of superhuman strength, protectors and supporters of holy beings. They are emblems of bravery and energy. The Fu Dogs are often portrayed in pairs: the male has a paw on a ball that represents the jewel of the law, a pearl, or an egg enclosing a small. The female has a baby at her feet, who sometimes bites her mother's tongue.


Symbol of purity and perfection, and also an emblem of summer and fertility. He is one of the Eight Treasures of Buddhism.

Endless knot

Long life without disappointment.


The goose symbolizes a happy marriage.


The onion represents intelligence.


The bear is usually used as a symbol for humans.


Pandas are often used as a symbol of man.


An emblem of beauty and dignity. The feathers of his tail are used since the Ming Dynasty to show the rank of official, official.


With plum blossoms, symbolizes long life and beauty. With a cat means a vow to live 70 or 80 years.


Fishing is also known as "fairy fruit." It was the fishing that gave immortals immortality and it was the elixir of life for the Daoists. It is also a symbol for marriage, spring and immortality. It is said that the peach of the gods only blooms once every 3000 years and that the fruit of eternal life takes another 3000 years to mature.


One of the four basic trades (the others being the lumberjack, the peasant and the scientist.)


The concrete essence of the moon. Emblem of genius in the dark, also a sign of beauty and purity.


Emblem of the Empress and beauty. Appears only in times of peace and prosperity. In second place in the order of the four supernatural creatures, the dragon being the first, the third unicorn and the fourth tortoise. A train of small birds accompanies him when the Phoenix flies.


Queen of flowers. An omen of good fortune. Emblem of love, affection and feminine beauty, as well as the sign of spring.


Symbol for wealth. A pair of fish symbolizes marriage, conjugal bliss, fertility and tenacity. (see also carp)


The serpent represents cunning, evil and supernatural power.


The monkey hunts evil spirits. The monkey is often seen fishing in his hand, which he stole from Xi-wang-mu's garden.


The tiger represents strength and military prowess.


Longevity and immortality.


Buddhist symbol of humility. Also a sign of spring. Considered to have the power to expel demons.