Meanings and Symbolism
Chinese Animal symbols hold incredible power in all cultures. So it should come as no surprise that these animalistic themes and motifs are found in every square inch of rich Chinese culture and heritage.
The Chinese are excellent philosophers and observers. As such, they understand the deeper meanings of animals, and utilized the characteristics of each creature to represent traits they wish to call upon in their own lives.
Chinese animal symbols serve as reminders, charms, omens, and sentiments. They are artistically represented in drawings, embroidered on clothing, painted on houses, and formed into statues all over China as harbingers of wealth, good luck, etc.
As with all symbols, these can bring about great positive aspects into our lives. By understanding their meanings, and incorporating them into our lives, we conjure the desired aspect each symbol represents.
The Chinese animal symbol Butterfly represents love, specifically young love. Happily flitting from flower to flower – it signifies a happy social life for the young and young- at-heart. Chinese legend has it that the Butterfly symbolizes an undying bond between lovers. All romantics-at-heart would do well to place an image of a Butterfly in their home. A perfect gift for a new couple is this design embroidered on towels for the couple's home. Representative of the Yang energy, this symbol can energize you or a loved one, it reminds us of the energy of love. More symbolic meanings of butterfly here.
The Crab signifies prosperity and status because the Chinese word referring to its shell is a pun on the highest score a candidate can make on the Chinese Imperial Examinations (first, or jia. Two Crabs represent the first and second scores of the Examinations. Learn more about the symbolism of the crab here.
The Crane is legendary in China for being the prince of all feathered creature on earth. Next to the Phoenix (also listed on this page), the Crane is the most favored all Chinese bird symbols. The Crane is the ancient symbol for longevity because of its exceptionally long life span. In many legends, the spirits ride on cranes, which are also said to bear the souls of the departed to the heavens.
This symbol means abundance of gold, making the Goldfish a popular symbol in the Chinese culture. One of the most popular New Year's images is a child holding a large goldfish and a lotus flower (see Chinese Flower Symbols) which brings both wealth and harmony. A Goldfish embroidered on a bag or shirt is a sure-fire way to bring the energy of abundance into your life. See also my page on symbolic meaning of fish (in general).
The seventh of the Chinese Zodiac Signs, it also represents endurance, loyalty, and purity to the Buddhist way of thinking. It is also a symbol for quick advancement in rank, and recognition of strength. (see also Horse symbol meanings.
This Chinese animal symbol translates into the bird of joy. It is believed that when the Magpie nests in your house, it brings much cause for celebration and many happy occasions. Those wishing to settle down will do well to have this symbol in their lives, as it attracts the nesting, settling energies into our lives. Additionally the Magpie is a powerful symbol to attract the joy associated with marriage and children. Also see my page on the symbolic meanings of the magpie here.
A celestial sign to the Chinese, the Phoenix is the king of the winged kingdom. Magnificent and legendary, this bird is synonymous with good fortune, opportunity, and luck. It also conveys strength and resilience in the symbolic rising from its own ashes and soars to greater heights. On its own, the Phoenix is a Yang symbol and is associated with fire energies and the four winds. Combined with the Dragon (see Chinese Dragon page) the Phoenix represents Yin energy. As a point of spiritual focus, the Phoenix evokes in us the five human qualities of good cosmic energy, or Chi, which are: Virtue, Duty, Alignment, Compassion, Loyalty
I hope you enjoy browsing through these pages on Chinese Animal Symbols. If you enjoyed this article, you may also be interested in more articles on symbolic meanings listed at the end of this page. Thanks for reading!
An Important Note About Signs, Symbols and Their Meanings
Signs and symbols cultivate their meanings according to culture, context, passage of time in society as well as mass societal opinion. What's cool and highly important is that signs and symbols earn their most powerful meanings from our own personal perspectives.
This website strives to provide you with the best, time-honored information when defining signs and symbols. However, in the final analysis, "Beauty (and symbolism) is in the eye of the beholder."
Having said that, it's in our best interest to invest the time to do personal research on symbolic events happening to us. This website is just one perspective in an ocean of variety and diversity in the realm of symbolism. So dive in! There is a whole universe of deeper meanings to explore! You can start your research by clicking on the links at the end or to the side of this page. Odds are good I've got a follow-up article about this symbolic topic. ;)
As always, thanks for your willingness to learn more about the language of symbolism. It's a language that is universal and everywhere. It's super-groovy to travel with you on your symbolic path, and maybe offer a little translation along the way. Thanks for reading and exploring!