In ancient Chinese culture, the butterfly is a symbol of immortality.
The mandarin word 蝴蝶 which is pronounced as Hu Die has a phonetic similar sound to seventy years. Which is why it is representative of a man in this 70s.
This is also why the appearance of a lone butterfly can sometimes be seen as an omen of death.
The beautiful insect is also sometimes depicted sipping nectar from the calyx of flowers. This has a symbolism of femininity.
Legend of butterflies
The most well-known story in which butterflies were symbolically part of the plot is no other than the infamous romance novel of Liang Zhu (梁祝). This story of butterfly lovers is about a pair of love birds who met in school. And after their desire to be together was denied by all types of obstacles, they both died and their spirits took the form of butterflies to be together forever.
This story is the Chinese equivalent of Romeo and Juliet. So deeply engaging was this novel that it made it’s way into movies and television drama series.
In ancient text found on one of the famous oracles, it is mentioned that the butterfly dances with the flowers while the yellow oriole sings with the willow tree. This again is reference to femininity.
When butterflies are depicted with plum blossoms, it signifies unmatched beauty and longevity.
When a cat is pictured with a butterfly, it means a wish for one to live a long life to the age of 70 and above.
When one enters the house, a bright colored butterfly symbolizes the arrival of good news in terms of romance. While a dark colored winged friend means that good news regarding your career is beckoning.
Chasing them out of the house is akin to refusing to accept such good news.
It should be noted that while butterflies are positively revered in various metaphysical practices and cultures around the world, it is more associated with young love in feng shui symbolism.
They are meant to encourage a more active social live without the pressure of settling down. Thus, they are not recommended for those who are seeking life partners.
Women have to be careful with them as they can encourage the wrong type of reputation.
So while they have no direct positive connotations, there are no negatives either.
If they add an extra dimension of aesthetic value to paintings and art work, there’s no reason to erase them or have the paintings thrown away.
In some cases, they can also add a touch of colors representing elements that enhances a picture.
For example, an auspicious landscape painting should have colors representing all 5 elements. If the fire element is missing from such a painting, then the presence of red butterflies can play the role of completing the cycle of 5 the elements.