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China in Symbols: From Beast Totem to Auspicious Symbols

Release Time:2022-06-04 Topic:symbol of bull market Reading:64 Navigation:Stock Liao information > Culture > China in Symbols: From Beast Totem to Auspicious Symbols phone-reading
The just-concluded Winter Olympics reminded people of the dolls Bing Dun Dun and Xue Rong Rong, whose designs contained the Olympic spirit and Chinese cultural symbols. The generation and development of a symbol has a strong and complex cultural support behind it, and once a symbol is formed after a long accumulation of culture, its meaning will be long-term and stable. Only by understanding the symbols can we understand the culture carried by the symbols. In the book "China in Symbols", more than 100 symbols that best represent China were identified.
Bing Dun Dun and Xu Rong Rong, the pair of mascots of the Winter Olympics, won everyone's love. The design of Bing Dun Dun embodies the Olympic spirit of perseverance, bravery, sense of the future and the sense of the times; Xuerong Rong seeks from the interior of traditional Chinese culture, illuminates the way forward with the metaphor of "lantern", and responds to the "community of shared future for mankind" with a line of warmth. ”, while the Ruyi rings, Great Wall patterns, Beijing pigeon patterns and Ruyi patterns all over Xue Rongrong’s body are typical traditional Chinese decorations, and each pattern has a profound cultural significance.
To a certain extent, Bingdundun and Xuerongrong are intentionally created symbols to represent a cultural phenomenon and convey a certain meaning. We collect and love them, not only because they are a cute pair dolls, but also because of the Olympic spirit and the inspiring spiritual memory of the Winter Olympics. Therefore, we pay attention to some cultural symbols, but in fact pay attention to the cultural meanings they represent.
On January 18, 2022, Beijing, the mascots of the Winter Olympics, Bing Dun Dun and Xue Rong Rong, have “worked” on Metro Line 11. The trains were decorated with new decorations. Welcome to the Winter Olympics. Chang Zhitao/Visual China Map

China is a big country with "cultural symbols". In the history of thousands of years, we are very good at using symbols to symbolize and convey those spiritual meanings that are difficult to describe or easy to miss because of mystery. , such as class and power, blessing and seeking auspiciousness, spiritual belief, warding off evil spirits and disasters, etc. In a book "China in Symbols" published by Zhonghua, more than 100 symbols that can best represent China are selected, such as dragon, phoenix, Hongmeng, Zhurong, Taiji map, Bagua map, Hetu Luoshu, Sanxingdui "Sun- Divine Bird-Sacred Man-Sacred Tree", etc., are divided into four series: auspiciousness, guardianship, sacredness, and humanities, and examine the generation and evolution of these symbols.

Animals as Symbols
The generation and development of a symbol must have a strong and complex cultural support behind it, and once a symbol has been formed through a long accumulation of culture, its meaning will change. There will be long-term and stable. Only by understanding the symbols can we understand the culture carried by the symbols.
As mentioned above, the mascots chosen by China for several international competitions are all based on pandas, and pandas have increasingly become the animals that best represent China. The panda is actually not that conspicuous among the animal symbols in ancient China. When choosing symbols, China prefers to choose "divine beasts" handed down from ancient times. For example, the dragon and phoenix that Wen Yiduo said are "symbols of the origin of the nation and the beginning of culture", and the "nine sons of the dragon" derived from the dragon system, as well as the matching patterns such as Pixiu and Qilin, have experienced the same experience as the dragon. Auspicious beast created by Fan combination.
Part of Chen Ronghui's "Nine Dragons" in the Southern Song Dynasty

It seems that only those animals that are full of mystery and recreated can be used as auspicious symbols, such as the unicorn, which As a symbol of auspiciousness, it is said that it will only appear in a peaceful and prosperous age or when a saint is born. And real animals are often attached to these mythical beasts. For example, in the Ming Dynasty, a foreign messenger donated a mythical beast. At that time, people thought it was a unicorn, and it was a national sensation, but it was actually a giraffe. "Rui Ying Qilin Picture" is a painting that people at that time mistakenly mistook the giraffe as a unicorn.
"Rui Ying Qilin Tu"

is also an example of a lion. The lion is an animal introduced to China from the Western Regions. "The History of the Western Regions" records the Parthia "Send envoys to offer lions", which caused a sensation in the capital. Since then, more and more countries have introduced lions to China. Until the Yuan Dynasty, there are still records of lions entering China as tribute. After the lion entered China, it was gradually integrated into Chinese myths and legends and became a deity. But as auspicious symbols, such asStone lions with strong symbolic meanings will incorporate the characteristics of animals such as dragons, tigers, unicorns, and gluttonous gluttons. According to the characteristics of Chinese "divine beast" culture, they are different from ordinary lions.
In "Looking at the Map of All Nations", it is possible to recreate "auspicious beasts" based on some animals.


In "Looking to the World", it is possible to recreate "auspicious beasts" based on some animals.

And even native, common animals, in order to highlight their mystery and preciousness, will add or subtract organs, or replace certain parts to stand out. For example, the "four spirits", such as the three-legged golden toad, the toad had a high status in the Han Dynasty. In the whole process of "ascending the immortals" in the tombs of the Han Dynasty, a red tripod was often set up in front of the Queen Mother of the West, and the jade rabbit pounded the medicine and the toad used the medicine, symbolizing the Crafting and mastering the undead potion.

"Mistakes" and "Dislocations" in the Evolution of Symbols
As a symbol, an animal's shape and meaning will change constantly. Take Jinchan as an example, in the Han Dynasty, It is a symbol of longevity, and in the Tang Dynasty, people called the golden toad a golden toad and considered it a symbol of wealth. When these auspicious symbols are given meanings, there is often no logic. Zhao Yuntao, the author of "China in Symbols", believes that the formation or evolution of many symbols can be summarized in two words - "wrong" and "wrong". dislocation".
Zhao Yuntao mentioned that one of the manifestations of "mistakes" is gradually "accumulating falsehoods into truths". For example, "Zhang Guolao" in the Eight Immortals, there is a sentence "Mr. Zhang Guolao" in the handed down literature. In ancient times, there was no punctuation, and the sentences had no fixed style. Later, it was gradually spread as falsehood. "Zhang Guo, old gentleman" became "Zhang Guolao, "Sir"; the aforementioned Jinchan, in Ming and Qing Dynasties, people attached it to the characters of the Eastern Han Dynasty: "Liu Haichan", because there is a "toad" in its name, people made up "Liu Haixi Jinchan" "The name of "Liu Haichan" has also become "Liu Hai"; Zhong Kui, it is said in ancient books that the dialect of Qi Di often calls the big wooden stick, that is, "vertebra (chuí)" as "End Kui", this big wooden stick It can be used to exorcise ghosts and monsters. Later, there was a ghost-exorcist god named "Zhong Kui".
Some "mistakes" are consciously generated by people, for example, animals and plants are used as auspicious elements, and the formation of auspicious meanings mostly relies on associative thinking to deliberately form "mistakes" effects. "Deer" is homophonic to "Lu", so people draw a deer, which means that they can obtain blessings, bats because of homophonic "blessing"; and the more typical "Four King Kong" also because of the homophonic "wind and rain" because of the treasure in their hands And made adjustments.
Anonymous Ming Dynasty Toad with Liuhai and Golden Toad


Qing Yongzheng Pastel Gourd Bowl

Zhao Yuntao It is believed that the "misplacement" in the formation and evolution of symbols is a more advanced "mistake". "Dislocation" means that some symbols have gradually changed in the process of sanctification, secularization, and localization.
In China's belief system, a considerable number of Buddhist gods will undergo a "localized" transformation in China. Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva in ancient India was male, and it was spread to China. Before the Tang Dynasty, it was mostly male, and generally had a mustache. After Wu Zetian came to power, the status of women improved, and Guanyin Bodhisattva also became a female figure. After the Yuan Dynasty, the female phase Guanyin became the mainstream. The early Maitreya Buddha was not a big belly either. The shape of the big belly is said to be based on a cloth bag monk named Qixi in the Five Dynasties period. People liked this image and gradually fixed it, thus having the big belly Maitreya Buddha.
Liang Kai's "The Monk of the Cloth Bag" in the Southern Song Dynasty

However, given the vast territory of China and the frequent changes of dynasties, the choice of immortals is also very arbitrary, such as We are familiar with the king of Yama, who is in charge of the underworld. Before him, the god in charge of ghosts was originally the God of Mount Tai. According to the "Natural History", the god of Mount Tai is called "Tian Sun", the grandson of the Emperor of Heaven. He is responsible for calling people's souls and knowing people. length of life. During the Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties, a new destination and manager was born in the ghost world. This is Fengdu and Fengdu Emperor created by Taoism. It was only in the Tang Dynasty that the Buddhist belief in Yama began to gain the upper hand.
King Yama came along with the spread of Indian Buddhism to the east. It can be seen that the belief symbols that we originally thought were very Chinese characteristics are the result of cultural integration. "Hell" and the Buddhist "hell", and the widely accepted and loved "Monkey King", after research by Hu Shi, its prototype is the Indian monkey Hanuman in the Indian epic "Ramayana".
In addition to the dislocation caused by thinking and aesthetic patterns and cultural fusion, people's behaviors also lead to the occurrence of "dislocation" in the symbol system. For example, in the Tang Dynasty, tomb-sweeping was a custom of the Cold Food Festival, but fire was prohibited during the Cold Food Festival. In the Tang and Song Dynasties, it was popular to burn paper money for tomb-sweeping. So in order to avoid conflict, the custom of sweeping gravesIt has gradually become the symbol of Qingming Festival.

Interpretation of the "Daily Use but Don't Know" Symbols in "Journey to the West"
In the writing of "China in Symbols", the author starts with Chinese classical novels and discusses the significance of symbols in novels application to arouse readers' interest in symbols that are "used daily but not known".
A very prominent text is "Journey to the West". The seemingly illogical stories of gods and demons in "Journey to the West" actually have a very solid foundation of folk beliefs. For example, at the end of "Journey to the West", why are the scriptures Tang Seng retrieved for the first time blank, and the scriptures he finally got are also put on the shelf? Zhao Yuntao believes: "In "Journey to the West", when the Tang monk arrived at Lingshan Mountain in Xitian, it was Kasyapa and Annuo who led the Tang monk to fetch the scriptures (the prototype was Ananda). It has fulfilled the tenet of Zen sect's 'no words' and the mantle and mantle." And "the story of Tang monks taking scriptures is familiar to everyone. Historically, when Tang Xuanzang went to India to learn scriptures, he mainly took the classics of the Consciousness-only sect. She kept it on the shelf, and it was lost later. One of the most important reasons is that it is difficult for the general public to accept or approach the Consciousness-Only Sect, because many terms in the Consciousness-Only Sect classics are incomprehensible to ordinary people. It is more inclined towards professionals."
"Journey to the West" stills

Many of the monsters who make waves in "Journey to the West" are the mounts of gods in the sky, "Journey to the West" "The only fairy who appears twice is the lion spirit of Manjushri, once in Wuji Kingdom and once in Shituoling. In "Journey to the West", there is a monster that even Sun Wukong is afraid of. That is Jiuling Yuansheng, also known as the nine-headed lion. Jiuling Yuansheng's magic power is very strong, and he can capture Sun Wukong and Sha Seng with his head, causing Sun Wukong to hear the sound and flee. There is also the white deer, the mount of the birthday star, who becomes a demon in the lower realm and becomes the father-in-law of the king of the Bhikshu Kingdom.
A monster that was spoofed by netizens in the Year of the Tiger - Aiye Huali Leopard Spirit, occupying the hidden Wushan Mountain as the king, known as the "King of Nanshan", it is one of the rare monsters who go down to the earth to make mischief, a monster with no celestial background .
The Leopards in "Journey to the West"

In "Journey to the West", their roles are also arranged according to the level of the gods and the functions they perform, for example, because of their rank The lower god is often called the God of the Earth. The belief in the God of the Earth originated from the worship of the "God of the Society" in ancient times. Before the Qin and Han dynasties, the God of the Society had a very high status, but starting from the Southern and Northern Dynasties, the God of the Land began. The status is getting more and more humble. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, people tended to think that the land master was the patron saint of the countryside or suburbs, and the most basic earth immortal, and because it was most closely related to people's lives, the land temple was also the most common.
In "Journey to the West", there are many appearances of the land master, such as the land master as the guardian of special areas, such as the land of Pantaoyuan and the land of Flaming Mountain. In the country of Chechi, Sun Wukong and Hu Li Daxian beheaded. When Sun Wukong's head fell on the ground, Huli Daxian secretly called out the land and said to him: "Take the head and wait until I win the monk. If you want the king, build the small ancestral hall into a big temple with you, and change the clay statue into a golden body.” As a result, the land really listened to his words, which also shows the humble status of the land.
"Journey to the West" in Sun Wukong and the gods of the land and mountains

Every time Sun Wukong moves to rescue soldiers, he will encounter the gods in the sky, such as the Four Heavenly Kings, and Sun Wukong moves to the sky When rescuing soldiers, they always go to the gates of Nantianmen and Dongtianmen first, and they will meet the heavenly king who guards the gate today. The author of "China in Symbols" believes that the one who has the best relationship with Sun Wukong is the king of growth. "This may contain the so-called traditional Chinese concept of 'no fight, no acquaintance'. The first time Sun Wukong went to heaven, he met the King of Growth, and there was a dispute. After that, the relationship between the two people became better, and Sun Wukong The 'Sleepy Worm' was won by playing the game with the King of Growth."
The system of immortals in the sky is more complicated. The Qingniu Jing of Taishang Laojun stole the "King Kong Zhuo" and went down to occupy the mountain as the king, and captured the Tang monk. , and also used "King Kong Zhuo" to swept away Sun Wukong's golden hoop. Sun Wukong went to the heaven to complain and asked which "ominous star" Sifan was in the lower realm, he briefly introduced the fairy system represented by the stars in the sky. The officials of the gods and kings at the door; secondly, they checked the large and small groups in the three micro-walls; they also checked the thunder officials Tao, Zhang, Xin, Deng, Gou, Bi, Pang, and Liu; in the end, they only checked for thirty-three days, and they were at ease every day. ; Also check the twenty-eight places, the seven places in the east, Jiao, Kang, Di, Fang, Shen, Wei, Ji; the seven places in the west, Dou, Niu, Nu, Xu, Wei, Shi, Bi; the seven places in the south, the seven places in the north, the place He stayed in An Ning; he also checked the sun, the yin, water, fire, wood, metal, and earth seven governances; Luo, Jidu, and Bo more than four. The sky is full of stars, and there is no thinking about the lower realm.
Zhao Yuntao "China in Symbols" Zhonghua Book Company

"China in Symbols provides a new way of reading about Chinese mythical totems and auspicious symbols. The word "symbol" gathers more beliefs and totems scattered in various regions and times in China, and compiles them into a book; while researching the origin of each symbol, it is also from "Journey to the West", "Fengshen Romance" and "A Dream of Red Mansions". ” and other novels, adding interest to the narrative with “mutual evidence of literature and history”. (This article is from The Paper, for more original information, please download the "The Paper" APP)

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