In traditional Chinese art, symbolism has always played a significant part, with highly regarded, auspicious symbols for births, weddings, wishes for long life and congratulations for birthdays.

Many of these symbols, either as a written character or as an artistic device have been in use in China for literally thousands of years, so that the derivation of some symbols have been lost to memory.

However, even in modern China, these ancient meanings persist, still deeply rooted in the Chinese psyche.

Some are archaic with origins from Imperial dynasties three or four thousand years old with others originating from Chinese Buddhism.

Many symbols also relate to Taoism, but most are derived from Confusion philosophic thought with its focus on the seasons and the natural world.

Many of these symbols are discreet, requiring a foreknowledge of their meaning. They are able to be read and when understood, convey a much greater depth of meaning to the observer.

Some of the more well-known symbols include the following:

Bamboo - Stands for longevity and courage in adversity. As it is an evergreen and because it grows straight, it was an ideal symbol for mandarins and represented an honest official.

Bats - The homonym ‘fu’ stands for both ‘bat’ and ‘happiness’, hence the bat is a well-known symbol. Five bats shown together signify the Five Blessings: longevity, health, wealth, virtue and a natural death.

Crane - The crane is another longevity symbol as the bird was thought to live for two thousand years. A bird flying or looking towards the sun represents a desire to rise high in the government hierarchy.

Dragons – A symbol derived from ancient traditions. This symbol ranks first among all. The five-clawed dragon was reserved for the Emperor from ancient times until the end of the last dynasty. The four-clawed dragon associates with royalty and the three-clawed dragon with the Chinese people.

Chrysanthemum - One of the four important flower emblems signifying autumn and a contented middle age.

These are just five of the traditional symbols found in Chinese classical and decorative art. 

The Antique & Vintage Table Lamp have a fine selection of Chinese lamps, many with the ‘hidden meanings’ of symbolism.

This is particularly true of antique lamps, which provide a link to another time and offer ideal artistry, often no longer available.

Lighting is such an important element in interior design. Choosing quality, antique table lamps, partnered with stunning, silk lampshades will add a refined edge of elegance to the classic interior.