The Meaning Behind Chinese Paintings

I’m pretty sure that every artist has their own interpretation of art, especially their art. There is a purpose and meaning behind each of them. This is also the case for Chinese Paintings. It is often associated with Feng Shui and auspicious ability.

When I look at my father’s work room, there is a Chinese painting hanging on the wall. In the picture, A rooster stands on a branch, with a tree along with the hen and chicken behind him. I never been so interested in painting, but I look it up anyway. I expect “adding longetivity, success, health or well-being” kind of thing. But I was wrong. It means valiancy or bravery or courage in general. But with different environment, the definition will be different as well. If the rooster stands on a rock, it symbolizes “good luck in your family” while if it is drawn with the hen and chicken, it represents the hope of parents that their kids will be successful. Well then if it’s both of them, I assume it symbolizes both(?)

There are other famous Chinese painting about animal. One of them is the Running Man Horse paintings. Horse is the symbol of honour, auspiciousness and authority. It is often compared to talented person as well. Horse painting is associated with progress, positivity and prosperity. The 8 Running Horse (8 Noble Horses) symbolizes group of talented people moving forward with bravery and successfully. It can also symbolizes a good career and quick action.

8 noble horses. creds to :

Another animal which I frequently see is the Koi Fish Painting. It literally is in every chinese restaurant I visit, especially the traditional one. They are accompanied with Lotus, which means purity, struggle and change in life. Commonly it consist of 9 Koi fish, mostly red, with one black and one gold. Well, it’s not surprising that each one has their own meaning. These are their colors and respective meanings.

  • Kohaku (white body and red spots) symbolizes : success in your career.
  • Kumonryu(white body and black spots or all black symbolizes : life changes and transformations.
  • Ogon (silver colored) represents : success in business and wealth.
  • Kuchibeni (lipstick fish, White and red patterned) represents : love and long lasting relationships.
  • Yamabuki (gold) symbolizes : wealth.
  • Blue Koi symbolizes : Reproduction, overcoming difficulties
  • Dragon Koi symbolizes : Overcoming difficulties, begin a new page of life

Koi Painting. source :

For those who are hoping to be blessed with offsprings, there is the Rabbit Panting. It is a symbol for prosperous offspring generation after generation. While 2 rabbits expresses tranquility, peace and compassion.

How about Panda? Yes there is a painting for the animal which is originated from China. As I research I think it is possible that there is a painting for each and every animal. This cute, rare animal represent friendship and peace, joy as well as harmony. Back in the old days, Giant Panda was treated as a beast equivalent with cheetah or other wild beast. But now, it is symbolizing peace and showing hostility.

Baby Panda. source :

There are other paintings, aside of animals, as well, like Bamboo painting (Persistency and Strength), Paddy Field painting(Prosperity), Pine Tree painting(Strength and Determination that last forever) and other beautiful ones.

I’ve read that to observe and read a Chinese painting is like having discussion with the past. The more we read paintings, scrolls, as well as calligraphy or other artwork, it will create an intimate experience with them. And thus, the meaning is gradually revealed. I don’t particularly believe that the painting do bring good luck or it’s auspicious ability. What I love is that it’s a cultural heritage. China has one. And so does other countries. There is a saying : “We learn from the past for a better tommorrow”. Thus, I hope the traditional art and culture remains and preserved.

Source :

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Read more about about Chinese Paintings and the History


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