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Article CS00/3
CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OF
THE BLESSING PLANT SYMBOLISMS

Prof. Dr. Ong Hean-Tatt 3rd September 2000


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Overview

Since time immemorial, Man has been fascinated by plants. For the particularly observant Chinese, plants have taken a significant place in the rich tapestry of the Chinese culture. At a physical level, plants are essential to human life as the ultimate source of food. Plants are sources of many useful products. Chinese plant herbal medicine fascinates Western medical experts, who are seeking cures for modern diseases from the Chinese herbs. Both plants and animals symbolism features significantly in the Chinese culture, being major delightful motifs of the Chinese paintings, embroidery, porcelain wares and other craft pieces. As they often reflect various themes of life, the rich Chinese plant symbolism serves as a perpetual effective mechanism to constantly teach and motivate the Chinese people about life.

The Chinese Ganzhi System, with its Ten Celestial Stems and Twelve Terrestrial Branches and believed to control everything in the Universe, is closely represented by animals of the Four Cardinal Directions, Twenty Eight Constellations and Twelve Zodiac Signs. But the plant symbolism, for good reasons, appears to be mainly restricted to those of the Celestial Stems of the Ganzhi System. The Chinese cosmological lore recognises plants as the serene green world essential for human peace of mind. It also contains an ancient secret that true "Wisdom" is found at the East, the symbolic location of Wood or the plants. What all this means for human physical well-being and happiness is reflected in the rich plant symbolism lore.

Plants form essential features of the Chinese Feng Shui geomancy system. They also form significant parts of the traditional Chinese paintings and garden landscape, where the roles of plants are seeped in Feng Shui lore.

Plants tend to be associated with "shen" power from Heaven. Hence, plants, rather than animals, are associated with the quest for "immortality", viz the legends of the "fruits of immortality" and the "Tree of Life." The ancient "White Magic" often uses plants rather than animal ingredients to invoke blessings and counter evil; the exception being animal blood sacrificed to drive away evil. In contrast, "Black Magic" often uses grisly animal ingredients, especially those of reptiles and insects, to invoke curses. In fact, while several animals could be associated with evil, very few plants could be linked to any evil symbolism.

Many of the Chinese plant symbolism have parallels in other ancient cultures, including those of the old European cultures. The Peach and Artemesia form the oldest plant symbolism, existing as far back as 3,000 B.C. not only in the ancient Chinese culture but also in ancient European cultures. Both of them are feared by demons, and the Peach also being the "fruit of immortality." These two plants are the the original Double Lungs or "Twin Doors Gods Shen-Tu ("Divine Bitter Herb" = Artemesia) and Yu-Lei ("Luxuriant Growth" = Peach). Since then, a myriad of Chinese plant symbolism had arisen.

Below is a list of the Chinese Blessing Plant Symbolisms.


THE BLESSING PLANTS
Common Name (Scientific Name) - Associated Quality

HONOUR & FAME

  • PEONY (Paeonia arborea) - Honour
  • HIBISCUS (Hibiscus rosasinesis) - Honour,Fame
  • CHRYSANTHEMUM, with grasshopper (Chrysanthemum indica) Office,high
  • DATE (Jujube) (Zizyphus sp)- Office, high, for Children

PEACE & JOY

  • PERSIMMON (Diospyros kaki) - Joy
  • WU-TUNG (Paulownia imperialis) - Joy
  • CHRYSANTHEMUM (Chrysanthemum indica) - Life,easy
  • CHRYSANTHEMUM, with 9 quails - Peace, for 9 generations
  • APPLE (Malus prunnifolia) - Peace
  • PALM (Palm family) - Peace, Retirement

HUMAN CHARACTER

  • WILLOW (Salix pentandra) - Meekness
  • BAMBOO (Bambussa arundinacea) - Modesty
  • CAMELIA (Camelia thea) - Nobility
  • CHRYSANTHEMUM (Chysanthemum indica) - Nobility
  • FIG (Ficus religiosa) - Benevolence
  • PEAR (Pyrus sinensis) - Justice, Purity
  • ORCHID (Orchid family) - Perfection
  • LOTUS (Nelumbium speciosum) - Purity
  • SANDALWOOD (Santalum album) - Sincereity
  • OAK (Quercus chinensis) - Strength

INDUSTRY & BUSINESS

  • LOTUS (Nelumbium speciosum) - Industry
  • MULBERRY (Malus alba) - Industry
  • PERSIMMON (Diospyros kaki) - Business

DISCIPLINE & ENDURANCE

  • BANANA (Musa sapientum) - Discipline, self
  • CHRYSANTHEMUM (Chrysanthemum indica) - Endurance
  • PINE (Pinus sinensis) - Endurance

EDUCATION

  • OLIVE (Olea fragans) - Education
  • GOURD (Cucubita moschata) - Education, mystery
  • BANANA (Musa sapientum) - Education, self
  • PEAR (Pyrus sinensis) - Government

BEAUTY

  • OLEANDER (Thevetia sp.) - Beauty, grace
  • PEONY (Paeonia arborea) - Beauty, lady
  • APPLE (Malus prunifolia) - Beauty, lady
  • APRICOT (Prunus armeniaca) - Beauty. lady
  • AZALEA (Azalea procumbens) - Beauty, lady

SWEETNESS IN LADY

  • WILLOW (Salix pentandra) - Female
  • WU-TUNG (Paulownia imperialis) - Female
  • MAGNOLIA (Magnolia fuscata) - Sweetness in lady
  • JASMINE (Jasmine grandifioium) - Sweetness in lady

CHILDREN

  • DATE (Jujube) (Zizyphus sp.) - Children, High Office
  • GOURD (Cucubita moschata) - Children, Fertility
  • APRICOT (Prunus ameniaca) - Fertility
  • LOTUS (Nelumbium speciosum) - Fertility
  • ORCHID (Orchid Family) - Fertility
  • POMEGRANATE (Punica graniata) - Fertility
  • GARLIC (Allium sp.) - Progeny protected
  • BAMBOO (Bambusa arundinacea) - Youth

FILIAL PIETY

  • BAMBOO (Bambusa arundinacea) - Filial Piety
  • MULBERRY (Malus alba) - Filial Piety to Mother

HOME & MARRIAGE

  • MULBERRY (Malus alba) - Home
  • NARCISSUS (Narcissus tazetta) - Marriage
  • PEACH (Prunus persica) - Marrriage
  • CONVOLVULUS (Convovulus major) - Marriage, love

WEALTH & RICHES

  • NARCISSUS (Narcissus tazetta) - Wealth
  • ORANGE (Citrus nobilis) - Wealth
  • PEONY (Paeonia arborea) - Wealth
  • WISTARIA (Wisteria sp.) - Wealth
  • LOTUS (Nelumbium speciosum) - Wealth,bountiful
  • HIBISCUS (Hibiscus rosasinesis) - Wealth, splendour
  • APPLE (wild), with Magnolia - Wealth for House
  • PLUM (Prunus sp.) - Wealth (5 Fortunes)
  • MAPLE (Acer sp.) - Wealth
  • LOQUAT (kumquat) (Eriobotrya japnoica) - Luck

Find out more about Chinese plant symbolism in the book "Chinese Plant Symbolism"




Book Synopsis: CHINESE PLANT SYMBOLISM

The book "CHINESE PLANT SYMBOLISM" is a compilation of the Chinese traditions about plants. Animals and plants form significant motifs in the Chinese world of painting and craft, besides Chinese cooking and herbal lore. The plant symbolism includes plants signifying various blessings especially of fortune, family and longevity, plants reputed to have immortality or longevity properties and plants which have anti-demon powers. The "Garden of Plants" plays significant roles in the ancient Chinese tea ceremony, the Chinese art of Feng Shui and the Imperial mausoleum.

Plants are believed to be embodiments of shen power from Heaven. Hence, they, rather than animals, are associated with the legends of the "Fruit of Immortality" or "Tree of Life." Unlike animals, plants are seldom associated with evil nor used in black magic. More often than not, plants are important parts of the Feng Shui and white magic weapons against darkness. Originating in very ancient times, the Chinese plant symbolism has several common features with plant symbolism in other ancient cultures, including those in old Europe. The universal plant symbolism represents an important ancient science of life once held in common by humanity.

CHINESE PLANT SYMBOLISM urges you to recover and absorb the positive blessing significance of plants into your life. For the Ancient Masters cast the plant symbolism in bright delightful forms for guiding Man to walk in joyful harmony with Nature and himself.

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THE CHINESE CULTURE SYMBOLISM IS
A POTENT MANAGEMENT TOOL OF CONSTANT MOTIVATION!

They have real effects in promoting
the drive, industriousness and success of people!

to know how to apply it in modern management:
please enquire at:
Chinese Symbolism Page