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Architect Carving

Short Review

According to morphological principles the various visual image-symbols are divided into zoomorphic, vegetable, anthropomorphous and hieroglyphic ones. They are visual personifications of some idea or abstract notion often bearing benevolent meaning. They can also be associated with some positive moral or physical human features.

The most popular are the images symbolizing life values of society: longevity, wealth, happiness, plenty of male descendants, successful official career. Among them since ancient times the most popular have been Dragon and Phoenix. These images appear in ancient myths dated by the preliterate period of history.

Even nowadays visual symbols are widely used in contemporary interiors. They can appear as picturesque wall hangings, relief adornments of columns, embroideries for curtains and chair covers, compositions of decorative carving. Among vegetable symbols the most widely used images are bamboo, pine and lotus.

Color choice always plays an essential role in the interior. In Chinese culture the color palette and its semantics are rather conventional. There are 5 basic colors: red, yellow, blue-green (all shades from blue to green), white and black.

Red color stands for the elements of the Fire and the Sun, serves as a symbol of happiness, good luck and joy. Yellow refers to land fertility and prosperity of nation; it is also a color of supreme imperial power. Blue-green is a color of water and sky. White color indicates purity and wisdom, but also can symbolize sorrow and mourning. Black is a color of virtue and honor.

Color combinations are regulated by certain rules. Owing to considered and proven by ages standards of color combinations painted details impress so much. For example, the background of ceilings is accomplished in blue and green shades, and the ornament is painted with red, gold and even black colors.

Meanings of Images

Zoomorphic symbolic images
Dragon ( Lung ) was a symbol of power, force, wisdom, grandeur, good fortune, might, male Yang, light force. Dragon most frequently appeared on court clothes. Dragons commanded winds and rains.

Toad symbolized female Yin, Moon, longevity and wealth.

Phoenix in ancient Chinese mythology was regarded as a miraculous bird. With his appearance on the Earth peace and serenity came to the Celestial Empire.

Unicorn was a herald of good fortune and luck. It is the most powerful and indomitable animal.

Leo symbolized courage and justice. In China Buddha was called ¡°a lion among people¡±.

Tiger embodied the King of the animals, master of the forest in the Far-Eastern tradition. It was the symbol of vital force and fertility. In China tiger was a holy animal of the goddess Xi Wangmu, haunter of the demons. The god of wealth and the goddess of Wind rode on tigerback.

Turtle symbolized water, Moon, time, immortality. The images of Turtle and Dragon were the symbols of indestructibility: Dragon could not overwhelm Turtle, Turtle could not haul up to Dragon.

Pig was a symbol of the Great Mother and the Queen of Heaven in Tibetan Buddhism.

Frog was an animal, falling from the Heaven. It was also a symbol of fertility, abundance and renewal.

Fish was a token of fertility and wealth, sign of spiritual freedom and perfection. Buddhists regard Fish as a symbol of a man of free spirit neglecting obstacles and restrictions in his craving for enlightenment.

Ox was a symbol of spring and fertility, contemplator of wisdom.

Fallow deer personified longevity, high rank and wealth; it was also a token of love passion.

Fox symbolized longevity.

Deer was associated with happiness and welfare. White Deer was a token of the God of immortality.

Donkey was a divine racer.

Dog symbolized fidelity, affection and faithful love.

Lizard was a lunar symbol, personification of silence (the lizard was considered to be tongueless) and divine wisdom. It was also a custodian of family and hearth.

Eagle symbolized male Yang, Sun, power, military valor, courage, persistence, keen eyesight, fearlessness.

Peacock was a symbol of the Sun, immortality, love and eternal life; it was also the emblem of Ming dynasty. Peacock feather was accorded to at obtaining high rank and served as a token of emperor¡¯s favor.

Dove personified fertility, matrimonial fidelity and longevity.

Swallow symbolized Chinese paradise.

Magpie was a traditional symbol of good luck.

Stork and Crane were symbols of longevity, happy and peaceful old age, filial respectfulness and reclusion.

Crow and Oriole personified the Sun in China.

Goose symbolized fertility and prosperity. It was regarded to be of noble, divine, royal origin. Similar to lotus blossom it personified purity and enlightenment of the spirit free from earth bonds.

Cock was a symbol of courage, valor and force. Red cock protected from the fire. In Chinese language the words ¡°cock¡± and ¡°crow¡± sounded similarly to ¡°honor¡± and ¡°glory¡±.

Duck signified matrimonial bliss, fidelity and beauty.

Vegetable symbolic images
Lotus personified purity and enlightenment of spirit.

Twigs of bamboo and chimonantus praecox ( ¡°winter flower¡± ) were the symbols of winter fortitude.

Peony symbolized wealth and luxury.

Pine bow was associated with severity and strength of mind.

Unexpanded buds were personification of endless merry-go-round of life.

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