The Meaning Of 8 Horses Painting And Artwork

Among the various auspicious paintings that Chinese business people and homeowners love to hang in living rooms and office premises, the 8 horses painting is one that would often be considered.

This artwork actually has a name of it’s own called ba jun tu (八骏图) which can be loosely translated to 8 steeds picture.

And it is usually considered along side other prosperity paintings such as the 100 birds, koi fish, mountain landscapes, etc. That actually says a lot about how much it is held in high regards.

While a single horse carries great symbolism, 8 horses actually carries it’s own meanings and symbolism.

The 8 horses feng shui painting is actually a reference to the 8 steeds that accompanied King Mu of the Zhou dynasty (周穆王) when traveling around Mount Kunlun. He was a transformational ruler who reigned for 55 years and bring about changes and reforms which the people greatly benefited from.

These 8 horses was said to represent the value and virtues of what the revered King embodies.

These 8 steeds were named:

  • Hua Liu (骅骝) is a red horse with black mane
  • Lu Er (騄耳) is a horse in yellow-green
  • Chi Ji (赤骥) is a red horse
  • Bai Xi (白羲) is a horse in pure white
  • Qu Huang (渠黄) is a yellow horse
  • Yu Lun (逾轮) is a lilac color horse
  • Dao Li (盗骊) is a pure black horse
  • Shan Zi (山子) is a horse that is off-white

Hua Liu is associated with business luck, Lu Er is linked to status, Chi Ji is related to wealth, Bai Xi represents longevity and love, Qu Huang is the epitome of wisdom, Yu Lun is a horse capable of running a thousand li, Dao Li is a dark horse that can take advantage of any situation, Shan Zi is symbolic of happiness and harmony.

Various renown artists have created their own renditions of the 8 horses painting.

As time passed, artwork depicting the 8 horses slowly started to make their attributes part of how they are illustrated. Many incorporate poems and meaningful calligraphy as well.

However, their symbolism remains the same.

To side track a little, different number of horses can carry different associated meanings and symbolism. Here are some of the most common.

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One horse can refer to the tribute horse as mentioned earlier or represent leading the charge as in the phrase yi ma dang xian (一马当先).

Three horses symbolize conspiracy and betrayal as in san ma tong cao (三马同槽) with historical reference to the conspiracy of the 3 Sima (司马) members who usurped the Kingdom of Cao Wei (曹魏). It can also refer to uprising and revolution with reference to the 3 Ma (马) warriors who fought the revered Cao Cao (曹操).

Four horses represents being so far ahead that it’s uncatchable as in the idiom si ma nan zhui (驷马难追). Victory is assured.

Five horses can be associated with a painful punishment of death with 5 horses pulling apart the head and limbs of the guilty person (五马分尸).

Six horses is associated with beauty as in the phrase liu ma yang mo (六马仰秣) where the horse is attracted to music that it’s too distracted to feed.

Nine and ten horses can refer to the phrase shi ma jiu gui (十马九贵) which is a reference to a luxurious life.

It goes without saying that paintings with 3 or 5 horses should be avoided at home and in the office.

Placement of 8 horses painting

Because this is a generally auspicious painting, it can be placed in common areas and offices with no reference to directions.

But the orientation should not be that the horses directly face and confront a seating or resting area.

When a desk is setup in a command position, the painting is best placed behind the seat to support the incumbent.

Otherwise they can also be placed in the south to call on promotions and business recognition, or at the northwest to attract powerful mentors and partners into your life. Placement at the north can help in career development.

The south is also where the horse zodiac resides in Chinese astrology.

Sometimes, homeowners decide to go with figurines instead of paintings.

In this case, horse figurine sets that are designed with the ba jun tu in mind would usually use the posture of the horses to individually identify each horse.

Some bazi experts might also advocate placing it at the the location of their traveling horse star to attract the luck of voyages.

Remember not to have the horses face the main door as it would encourage them to run out of the house and take all your good luck with them.

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