Of all the Chinese auspicious symbols that are meant to represent happy and blissful marriages, there are probably none that are held in as high a status as the pair of mandarin ducks (鸳鸯).
In fact, I’d likely not challenge any claims made by anyone that it is the most commonly displayed bird in the world of feng shui.
The cute and adorable ducks are almost always seen in pairs.
If you see one that is alone, it’s probably because it’s partner is hidden from view behind the reeds.
It is believed that mister and misses Duck mate for life when paired up. It is also said that even when one is widowed, it will not seek a new partner and would prefer to go about the challenges of life alone to preserve the dignity of the family.
Even a celebrity duck like Donald would be unable to seduce one.
Mandarin ducks are therefore powerful symbols of love, loyalty, and everlasting relationships.
As a couple, you can tell apart the gender easily as the male is the one with the colorful feathers. While the female is the one dressed in dull colored feathers.
This colorful duck is also used as an insignia representing the 7th rank of government officials during periods of the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Legend of mandarin ducks
The cultural significance of mandarin ducks is often tied to a love story that survived the test of time.
It is about a gardener by the name of Yuan Ge (怨哥) who was hired by a retired official Hong Fu (洪辅) to get some cultivation work done on a park. During the Qing Ming period, a cry for help was heard originating from the garden’s lotus pond. It was Hong Fu’s daughter Ying Mei (映妹). Yuan jumped into the pool without hesitation to save her but his heroic deed was misinterpreted by Hong as him taking advantage of his daughter. As such, Yuan was thrown into jail even though Ying pleaded for his innocence. One night, Ying secretly met Yuan in the prison cell and gave him a gift of a 5-colored robe. This meetup was reported to Hong by the guards and in his rage, he ordered Yuan to be thrown into the lotus pond with stones tied to his feet. Ying then jumped into the pond to be with Yuan. Days later, a pair of odd looking birds were spotted frolicking in the pond. The male was colorful like the robe gifted to Yuan. The people who witnessed this believed that the couple were embodied in the pair of love birds. And the term Yuan Yang (鸳鸯) was coined.
This is the origin of the auspicious Chinese painting of mandarin ducks playing in a lotus pond. It is meant to symbolize the love, togetherness and harmony between a married couple. When accompanied by the lotus with seed pods in a pond, it also carries the additional meaning of fertility.
Even without additional motifs, the duo would represent peaceful prosperity and fidelity in matrimony.
Mandarin ducks are also often used in motifs and designs during weddings to signify a happy marriage full of bliss between husband and wife.
When they are depicted with one holding a lotus blossom and the other with a lotus fruit on it’s beak, it is meant to convey the meaning of having sons after marriage.
Together with a pair of butterflies signify union and fidelity.
Depicted with peonies represent a happy marriage.
In certain design arrangements, the regular duck can assume the role of Jia. This is because the word for duck (鸭) sounds like jia (甲).
Feng shui placement of mandarin ducks
In symbolic feng shui, the mandarin ducks are displayed not just for newly-weds and already-weds to enjoy a happy marriage. It is also used to help singles attract romance luck into their lives.
They can be placed in any sector of the house except the wood directional areas of east and southeast. The exception is when these two sector contain favorable romance energy such as the green star 4 in flying star feng shui or the Yen Nien sector in 8 mansions.
In the same line of thought, metal material should also be avoided as well.
When in doubt, any of the peach blossom luck locations can be appropriate.
The most common way the feathered feng shui birds are displayed are with figurines… often carved out of wood or gemstones.
Because of the reasons stated earlier, it is best to avoid buying mandarin ducks made of wood.
Gemstones like jade or rose quartz are best, while the latter being ideal.
Lately, red jasper is also getting very popular. It also does the job pretty well.
Another popular method of display is with paintings.
Again, be wary of using a wooden frame as that nullifies the potency of the ducks.
Paintings are best place in the living rooms. Especially on walls behind the sofa or the wall which the TV console is leaning up against.
One last thing to note is that when flying stars feng shui concept is used for determining the best place to locate the ducks, look for the green star 4 as a mountain star in bedrooms or the same star as a water star in living rooms.