Symbols for love and peace have always been popular across different cultures.
After all, when a person’s basic needs of survival is met, the next aspects of life to naturally strive for is love and peace.
It is therefore no surprise that paintings and artwork used as decorations for home interiors often carry these themes. With love often represented by symbols of love, and peace represented by symbols of peace. Even unrelated artwork like landscape art are often accompanied by calligraphy that contain profound words talking about these two live pursuits.
In modern times, peace is no longer pigeonholed into the one-dimensional meaning of the absence of war and conflict.
In popular culture, this term has evolved into also meaning inner peace in relation to spirituality and self-development. And this has become one of the main definitions used for the word since we are fortunate enough to live in reasonably peaceful times if compared to a century ago.
With the proliferation of oriental art for home decorations, Chinese symbols for peace have slowly become highly sought after by homeowners.
Here are some symbols of peace that can be easily incorporated into home design or onto novel products for gift-giving.
1) Chinese word
When used in conversational Chinese language, references to peace is done with the word 和平. It is pronounced he ping.
While a lot of paintings meant to symbolize this attribute use both these mandarin characters in the design, it is also often presented as just the single character 平.
So peace paintings can frequently contain just 平 rather than the full term of 和平.
When only the single character is used, it carries the connotation of peace and safety. This is because safety is written as 平安. Most homeowners find this more appropriate for residences as they want a household without infighting and safety for all family members.
The Chinese character for vase is 瓶, often referred to as 花瓶 pronounced hua ping and meaning a vase meant for flowers.
Because the word 瓶 is a homonym for 平, the vase carries the symbolic meaning of peace as well.
it’s not uncommon to find collections of beautifully designed vases in a Chinese home put on display. They are meant to convey the wish for peace, abundance and safety.
Antique Chinese vases are some of the most expensive ornamental decor items around because they are both appealing and carry positive symbolism.
Vase are sometimes substituted with bottles to convey the same hidden message.
The Chinese words that translates to apple is 苹果 pronounced as ping guo. An observant person should be able to identify the word 平 within the word 苹.
As a single word, 果 actually means fruit. So 苹果 can actually be titled as peace fruit.
Which is why in ancient culture, when one seeks forgiveness or a truce with someone else, a fruit basket is often brought along as a gift. And the basket would contain some apples… with the absence of pears as that is a taboo gift to offer someone.
When you brings apples as a guest it means that you wish the recipient love, peace and safety.
4) Still water
While the Chinese word that means peace is 平. This is also a word that means flat, level and calmness.
So things that carries these attributes are traditionally accepted as peaceful as well.
Even though there are a lot of things that has these attributes, still water is generally accepted as the one that carries the strongest symbolism in this respect.
This can even be observed in the practice of feng shui. Most prominently used as a remedy to resolve conflicts with the neighbors or between residents. It is also often used as a harmonizer when there is a conflict between elements such as water and fire due to bad stove placement.
The critical point here is that it must be still water. Moving water would render the peace symbolism redundant.
For this reason, paintings of lakes can also represent peace. But rivers or waterfalls will not be appropriate for the same symbolism.
While the white dove is the international symbol of peace, when we niche it down, the quail is probably considered as the Eastern equivalent.
This can appear rather contradicting to some as this small bird is generally seen a feisty little fellow.
The reasoning behind this symbolism is that the word for quails is 鹌鹑, pronounced an chun. With the word 鹌 sounding phonetically similar to the word 安 that means peaceful or peace of mind.
In terms of symbolism, the quail is seldom depicted alone with a partner at the very least. This is because being in a group can be termed 鹌和 which is a play of the term peace and harmony.
As a peace symbol, the quail is perhaps best known in a particular painting where chrysanthemums are depicted with 9 quails to represent the wish for 9 generations living in peace in the house.
We can find various different depictions of clouds in art galleries. There just something about them that many people find mysteriously alluring.
But a particular arrangement in Chinese culture is a representation of peace.
This is when the clouds contain the colors of the 5 elements. The connotation with peace is from the harmony that these 5 force can achieve when working together even though each is the destructive nemesis of another.
The horse saddle can appear to be out of place for a symbol with significant representation.
But consider that during ancient times, warriors sit on them to win wars for the ideals of peace.
The word for saddle is 鞍 pronounced as an. So it carries the same symbolism as the quail.
In traditional Chinese weddings, the groom and bride were known to step on wooded saddles at a phase of a customary ceremony. This is meant to call on a peaceful marital union.
In other uses, people often wear miniature versions of the saddle in brass or bronze to call on the same wish.
The Chinese name for lily is 百合 pronounced bai he. Individually, the word 百 means hundred. The word 合 means together and also sound like 和. Together it can carry meaning of a hundred fold peace.
The affection to the lily plant is shared by various scholars, poets and artists. Many of who have immortalized the significance of lilies in terms of symbolism in their work.
The lotus is a very special flowering plant in Chinese tradition and culture. This is also in part because it is a plant where every part of it can be utilized in some way to serve the community.
The Chinese characters for lotus is 荷花 pronounced he hua. With 荷 sounding exactly like 和 just like the lily.
it is strongly associated with Buddhism and Taoism as well.
The Goddess of Mercy for example is commonly portrayed to be holding a lotus flower in paintings and artwork.
This is one Chinese symbol that don’t just represent compassionate harmony, but also of inner peace.
Many artwork incorporate the the flower itself or even just the lotus leaf to convey a subtle message of peace.
During the times of the ancient dynasties, it was believed that a phoenix would appear when the emperor has done a good righteous job in ruling the country and keeping the peace. It was therefore held in the highest regard by rulers.
Today, this symbolic application of the phoenix is probably most appropriate for large organizations.
11) Tai hexagram ䷊
When we talk about spirituality in Chinese metaphysics, there is probably no single authority that is held in as high a regard as the IChing and it’s 64 hexagrams.
Among the 64 hexagrams, the one that is the most closely linked to peace is the hexagram #11 of 泰 (Tai).
This is made up of the Kun trigram on top and the Chien trigram below. Signifying the peaceful unison of heaven and earth in a smooth unobstructed blend of forces.