In today’s complicated world, peace means more than just the absence of war.
People of all backgrounds and beliefs always have well-received love and peace symbols. When a person's physical needs are met, the next logical step is to look for love and harmony. Because of this, it's not surprising to see similar subjects in paintings and other artworks meant to be put on the walls. Symbols of love are frequently used to represent love, and signs of peace are commonly used to describe peace. Art that seems unrelated, like landscape paintings, often has calligraphy that has profound words about these two life interests.
The original meaning of this word has changed over time to mean something more spiritual and self-actualized. Considering the state of the world a century ago, we can count ourselves lucky to live in these relatively quiet times, and this sense of the word has grown increasingly common. Since more and more people are turning to eastern art for inspiration for interior design, Chinese symbols of peace have become increasingly popular.
Here are a few universal signs of harmony that you can easily use to decorate your home or print on various unique gifts.
When used in conversational Chinese, references to peace are made with the word 和平. It is pronounced, “he ping.” While many paintings meant to symbolize this attribute use these Mandarin characters in the design, they are often presented as just the single character 平. As a result, peace paintings frequently contain only a few words rather than the entire term. When only a single character is used, it carries the connotation of peace and safety. This is because safety is written as 平安. Most homeowners think this is better for homes because they want their families to be safe and not fight each other. This character is so typical in many parts of Asia that it is often labelled as the Asian symbol of peace.
The Chinese character for the vase is 瓶, often referred to as 花瓶 pronounced hua ping, meaning a vase meant for flowers. Because the word 瓶 is a homonym for 平, the vase also carries the symbolic meaning of peace. So vases are often brought as gifts to family social events such as housewarmings and birthday celebrations of the elderly. Or even for business owners in the form of a wealth vase. It’s not uncommon to find collections of beautifully designed vases in a Chinese home. They are meant to convey the wish for peace, abundance, and safety. Antique Chinese vases are some of the most expensive ornamental decor items because they are both appealing and carry positive symbolism. Vases are sometimes substituted with bottles to convey the same hidden message.
The Chinese word that translates to apple is 苹果 pronounced as ping guo. An observant person should be able to identify the word 平 within the word 苹. As a single word, 果 means “fruit.” As a result, it can be referred to as peace fruit. This is why, in ancient culture, a fruit basket is often brought along as a gift when one seeks forgiveness or a truce with someone else. And the basket would contain some apples, without pears, as that is a taboo gift. When you bring apples as a guest, you wish the recipient love, peace, and safety.
While the Chinese word that means peace is 平. This is also a word that means flat, level, and calmness. So things that carry these attributes are traditionally accepted as peaceful as well. Even though many things have these attributes, water is still generally accepted as the one that takes the strongest symbolism in this respect. This can even be observed in the practice of feng shui. Most prominently used as a remedy to resolve conflicts with the neighbours or between residents. It is also often used as a harmonizer when there is a conflict between elements, such as water and fire, due to bad stove placement. The critical point here is that there must be still water. Moving water would render the peace symbolism redundant. For this reason, paintings of lakes can also represent peace. But rivers or waterfalls will not be appropriate for the same symbolism.
While the white dove is the international symbol of peace, the quail is probably considered the Eastern equivalent when we niche it down. This can appear somewhat contradictory to some, as this small bird is generally seen as a feisty little fellow. The reasoning behind this symbolism is that the word for quails is 鹌鹑, pronounced an chun. The word 鹌 sounds phonetically similar to the word 安, which means peaceful or peace of mind. In terms of symbolism, the quail is seldom depicted alone, with a partner at the very least. This is because being in a group can be termed, 鹌和 which is a play on the terms of peace and harmony. The quail is perhaps best known as a peace symbol in a particular painting where chrysanthemums are depicted with nine quails to represent the wish for nine generations to live in peace in the house.
In museums and galleries, we can view many different cloud paintings. They have an air of mystery that piques the interest of many. However, a specific layout in Chinese culture is a symbol of tranquilly. Sometimes the clouds will have the hues of the five elements. The peaceful meaning stems from the fact that, individually, these five forces are all devastating foes to one another. Still, when they work together, they can create a state of perfect harmony.
The horse saddle can appear out of place as a symbol with significant representation. But consider that during ancient times, warriors sat on them to win wars for the ideals of peace. The word for a saddle is 鞍 pronounced as an. So it carries the same symbolism as the quail. During a customary part of a Chinese wedding, the groom and bride are known to step on wooden saddles. This is meant to call for a peaceful marital union. In other ways, people wear small brass or bronze versions of the saddle to make the same wish.
The Chinese name for lily is 百合 pronounced bai he. Individually, the word 百 means “hundred.” The word 合 means together and also sounds like 和. Together they can carry the meaning of a hundredfold peace. Various scholars, poets, and artists share an affection for the lily plant. Many have immortalized the significance of lilies in terms of symbolism in their work.
The lotus is a great flowering plant in Chinese tradition and culture. This is also in part because it is a plant where every part of it can be utilized in some way to serve the community. The Chinese character for lotus is 荷花 pronounced he hua with 荷 sounding exactly like 和, just like the lily. It is strongly associated with Buddhism and Taoism as well. The Goddess of Mercy, for example,e is commonly portrayed as holding a lotus flower in paintings and artwork. This is one Chinese symbol that doesn’t just represent compassionate harmony but also inner peace. Many artworks incorporate the flower or the lotus leaf to convey a subtle message of peace.
The phoenix is best recognised as the dragon’s companion to most people. As a pair, they represent the yin and yang duality from which all other ideas are built. It was believed that if an emperor did a good and righteous job of administering the land and upholding the peace, a phoenix would appear. This was common throughout the ancient dynasties. Therefore, it was given the utmost respect by those in power. This symbolic use of the phoenix is widespread in today’s massive corporations.
Tai hexagram ䷊
When we talk about spirituality in Chinese metaphysics, there is probably no single authority that is held in as high a regard as the IChing and its 64 hexagrams. Among the 64 hexagrams, the one that is the most closely linked to peace is hexagram #11 of 泰 (Tai). This comprises the Kun trigram on top and the Chien trigram below. Signifying the peaceful union of heaven and earth in a smooth, unobstructed blend of forces.
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