What do the different shapes of carved Chinese jade signify?

I know that the hand-carved shapes of Chinese jade stand for different things. The animals of the Chinese zodiac are representative of themselves, for example. But there are other shapes... butterfly, vase, etc. and I was told that each of them had some meaning. I have looked everywhere I can think to look online, with no answers. Anyone have any ideas? Thanks!

6 Answers

  • lb2k
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Yes, almost everything is symbolic of something in Chinese culture! It would take a THICK book to even begin to scratch the surface of Chinese symbolism & motifs!

    I've listed a few common symbols and their general meaning:

    Butterfly - Emblem of joy; Symbol of summer

    Bat - Sounds similar to the character for happiness: Fu(2). Emblem of happiness and longevity. The design of 5 bats is a pictorial rebus for the "5 Blessings" ie old age, wealth, health, love of virtue and natural death(!). Often symbols of bats are so decorative that they apear to be butterflies.

    Flowers - Certain flowers represent different times of the year. For e.g. Peony:Spring, Lotus:Summer, Chrysanthemum:Autumn and Plum Blossom:Winter.

    Vase - The gift of a vase symbolises "peace" as the sound of the character for vase is similar to the character for peace.

    Bamboo - Commonly known as "the friend of China". It is an emblem of longevity because it is durable and evergreen adn flourishes throughout the winter.

    There's not much information online I'm afraid. Not that I know of anyway. However, there are books you can rfer to on this subject matter. A standard reference volume for many students of China/Chinese culture is, "Chinese Symbolism & Art Motifss" written by C.A.S. Williams. ISBN 0-8048-1586-0. It explains essential cultural symbols and contains interesting information on Chinese beliefs, customs, arts and crafts, food, medicine etc. I own this book and I think you will find it useful.

    Hope that helps!

    Source(s): LOVE jade and have an interest in Chinese culture.
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  • lucky
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    What Does Jade Signify

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  • 1 decade ago

    There are many things and objects that are craved into jade, in fact, almost everything is. One easy example is a piece of gold (the ones from ancient China) which of course symbolizes wealth. There are many, but I'd stick to the 12 animals of the zodiac.

    Source(s): My mother, who guys me a jade once in a while.
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  • 1 decade ago

    Jade is carved with various animal decorations, providing ornamental beauty and possibly, protection against the supernatural.

    Through further evolution of encompassing different cultures, different auspicious patterns, shapes and styles were also manifested on jade.

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  • 1 decade ago

    When it comes to jade, jade symbolizes healing, fortune, immortality, protective...But if you look at the animals and think about their lives...you'll see why they are on the carving. Dragons and Phoenix's symbolize power and Immortality. That is why Asian countries connect with these creatures.

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  • 1 decade ago

    they usually don't mean anything.

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