Similar to other cultures, in China, some anmials are given certain symbolism and used in a metaphorical way to express human feelings. 龙凤
The dragon and phoenix are mythical creatures venerated by the Chinese, and intrinsically linked to their cultural identity. Belief in the dragon can be traced back to primitive society, when certain prehistoric tribes adopted the dragon as their symbol and guardian. Ancient people regarded the dragon as a lucky and miraculous creature, a symbol of power, authority, talent, and auspiciousness. Over time it became recognized as a symbol of the Chinese nation.
A piece of Tang prose claimed A mountain will become famous if there is deity on it, even if it is a small mountain; a river will become divine if there is a dragon in it, even if it only has shallow water.
The Chinese long regarded the dragon as a powerful divine being, who freely roamed high clouds and deep water, and commanded changes in the weather at will.
Different physical attributes were added over time, including the head of a camel, the antlers of a deer, the eyes of a rabbit, the ears of an ox, the neck of a serpent, the scales of a fish, the mane of a horse, the claws of an eagle, and the palms of a tiger. As noted by Li Shizhen in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), in his Compendium of Materia Medica, the dragon appropriated the distinctive features of many animals to become what it is today.
The phoenix, quixotically, has the head of a chicken, the neck of a serpent, the chin of a swallow, the back of a tortoise, and the tail of a fish. Its skin has five colors and it is over two meters in length. People in different places have their own imaginations of the phoenix. Fengyang in Anhui Province was the birthplace of the first Ming emperor, Zhu Yuanzhang. It is also renowned for its artistic interpretations of the phoenix, but with a local twist. According to artists there, drawings of the phoenix were presented to the wife of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang. However because her birthday was in the year of the serpent, the head of the phoenix was changed to that of a serpent. Also, because the empress was partial to the number nine, its tails and wings were numbered at nine or multiples of nine.
The Chinese long regarded the dragon as a powerful divine being, who freely roamed high clouds and deep water, and commanded changes in the weather at will. The phoenix was considered the queen of the birds, and made a roaring sound. It never stayed in a place that did not have treasure. The first emperor of the Han Dynasty, Liu Bang, claimed his father was a dragon. Since then the dragon gradually became a symbol of imperial power, and a representative of the emperor. Empresses, on the other hand, were connected to the phoenix. Anything related to the emperor or empress was labeled dragon or phoenix. For example, the emperor's countenance was known as 龙颜, his robe as 龙袍, and his descendents as 龙子龙孙. The empress gown was known as 凤衣, her crown as 凤冠, her chamber as 凤阁, and her carriage as 凤辇.
At the Forbidden City, dragon decorations are everywhere, to the point where nobody knows exactly how many. A survey carried out at the Taihe Palace found that there were 13,844 dragons in that building alone. Bearing in mind there are 9,999 rooms at the Forbidden City as believed, the total number of dragons must be an astronomical figure. During the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties, all dragons in the imperial palaces were depicted with five claws. The five-clawed dragons were used exclusively in the imperial household, and anybody else who dared to use it would, somewhat drastically, have their entire family executed.
In recent times, dragons and phoenixes have also been considered a sign of auspiciousness. The dragon dance has become a part of festival celebrations. On the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, dragon boat races are held in the south of China to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival. 喜鹊
Apart from mythical creatures such as the dragon and phoenix, Chinese people also value other kinds of animals that are thought to help address their cultural need to seek happiness and auspiciousness.
According to folklore, magpie, which in Chinese literally means joyful bird, is a harbinger of good and happy things. ¡°Happiness comes when the magpie sings¡± is a folk saying. Magpies perched on plum trees are painted in New Year pictures to represent a homophonic metaphor of radiance with happiness.
According to legend, on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month the cowherd Niu Lang and his lover, the weaver girl Zhi Nu, go to the Milky Way for their once annual meeting. To assist them in making their way there, a group of magpies form a bridge so they can be reunited. As a result, the idiom 鹊桥相会, meeting at the magpies bridge, was created to mean the reunion of a couple or lovers after a long separation. For some reason, swallows also enjoy a similarly favorable status in Chinese culture. If swallows nest in the roof of a Chinese family's house, the hosts will never disturb them, because it's believed that it will bring luck to the family. 蝙蝠
In Chinese fortune is a homophone for the word bat. Likewise, deer is a homophone of 禄 (lu), which means something like official rank and salary. The crane was thought to be divine and represent longevity. In the world view of Chinese tradition, one cannot aim higher in life than to have fortune, high rank, good salary, and a long life.
The peacock is also admired in China, for both its beauty and auspicious implications. By way of contrast, in the UK it was believed to be unlucky to have the feathers of a peacock in one's home. The peacock's beauty and carriage led its name to become synonymous with vanity, and the expression as proud as a peacock. 虎
The tiger is regarded as the king of wild creatures and symbolizes unlimited power, courage, dignity, and military prowess. It is often depicted in Chinese paintings and idioms, including 虎踞龙盘, 卧虎藏龙, 虎虎有生气, 将门虎子, 虎头虎脑, 虎视眈眈, and 如虎添翼. Probably due to the fact the lion is not native to China, there are few uses of it in idioms, despite the fact it is an equally powerful animal. In the west, the lion is regarded as the embodiment of courage, strength and nobility, similar to how the tiger is perceived by Chinese people.猫头鹰
By contrast, the owl is considered to be a bad omen by Chinese people. It is a bird to be feared and avoided. When an owl enters a house, people believe something bad is sure to follow. Due to its nocturnal lifestyle and terrifying screeches, it is quite an apt symbol of darkness and bad luck. However, to some western people, the owl is a wise and benevolent creature. As wise as an owl is an expression in English. 狐狸
Other creatures disliked and distrusted by the Chinese are wolves and foxes. The wolf is considered a fierce and ruthless beast devoid of gratitude. Expressions that include the character for wolf are replete with derogatory meanings, including 狼子野心, 狼狈为奸, 豺狼当道, 狼心狗肺, and 狼奔豕突. The fox is considered cunning and plotting. A cunning person is sometimes referred to as an old fox, and an evil woman as a fox demon. 狗
There is an ambivalent attitude toward dogs in Chinese culture. Though they are considered loyal and reliable, most phrases that include dogs have derogatory connotations, such as 走狗 or 狗腿子, which means henchman or jackal, 狗急跳墙, a cornered dog will do something desperate, 狗仗人势, being a bully under the protection of a powerful person, and 狐朋狗友, a gang of scoundrels. Other expressions with derogatory meanings include 狗崽子, 丧家狗, 狼心狗肺, and 狗嘴里吐不出象牙. 生肖
There are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. In order, they are: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. The Chinese zodiac is a 12-year cycle, with each animal representing one year. There are many legends surrounding the conception of these 12 signs. One has it that the Yellow Emperor was to choose 12 animals as palace guards. To make things simpler and faster, he decided that the first animals to register would be given the honor. The cat asked his best friend the rat to apply for him, but the rat forgot and so the cat lost his place. Ever since then, cats and rats have been mortal enemies. The elephant came to register, but the rat snuck into his trunk. The elephant was so shocked he ran away. The ox arrived first, but the rat jumped onto his back and then ahead of him. The tiger and the dragon fought each other for the third place behind the rat and the ox. The tiger, the king of the mountain, won and came in third. As the dragon was about to take his place after the tiger, the rabbit proposed a race with him. The pig acted as the referee and declared the rabbit the victor, even though this was contrary to the actual outcome. The dog, who was an outraged spectator of this fiasco, was so angry he bit the rabbit and was punished by being put in second last place. The last place was reserved for the duplicitous pig. The snake, rooster, horse, sheep and monkey jostled for the remaining places.
According to the Chinese zodiac, your sign is the animal of the year in which you were born. Every 12 years, therefore, your sign comes around once again. This is called your zodiac year, and happens when you turn 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, and so on. Your zodiac year is considered a sensitive and unlucky period. During the year one should practice caution. It is a common practice for people in their zodiac year to wear at least some red, be it a belt, underwear or socks, to protect them from misfortune.
Animals have played an important role in the life and culture of Chinese people from prehistoric times. In a sense, there is no distinction made between real and mythological animals when they are seen as symbols. ← 长按二维码关注Chinesebon中文帮！