In ancient Chinese tradition, culture, and especially literature, different plants and animals are often grouped together to form very strong symbolic meanings and representations.
A couple of popular ones with very strong connotations are the 3 friends of winter and the 4 friends of the flowers (花間四友).
Because almost every type of flower carries their own symbolism, the 4 friends of flowers act to supercharge the symbolism of the flowers themselves.
This is why it is very common to see paintings and portraits found in oriental art that depicts certain types of flowering plants with one or all of these “friends”.
Revered scholars and poets were also known to mention them in their famous work.
In no order of significance, the 4 friends of the flowers are the:
It is said that when these creatures voluntarily arrive at your garden, your flowering plants have reached the epitome of auspiciousness. Which is why these auspicious animals arrive to give their blessings as well.
But depending on the geographic area where your home is located it might not be possible to find each of these animals voluntarily visiting your garden.
Which is why the most common way homeowners bring these friends into the premises is via paintings or other types of display items.
For example, when there is a picture of chrysanthemums in the living room, homeowners might bring in another painting with these friends in it. Some would also purchase porcelain ware with them painted on the design. Then there are those who get artifacts and display items depicting these animals.
The most common of which are paintings of flowers that already contain the 4 friends, with Chinese calligraphy written in the background.
They are most appropriate for living rooms, meditation rooms, the study, and even outdoors under shelter in the garden.
And if you have real flowers in the house as a permanent fixture, it would be very suitable to bring in the friends of the flowers to further the symbolism the specific flower represents.