Daoism and Cct

Signs and Symbols

Are number, color, or nature symbolism important in Daoist tradition and CCT?

Astrological calculation and cosmological imagery have long been an integral part of Chinese religious views. Hundreds of symbolic elements make up this vast system of correspondences. Zodiacal animals are associated with the twelve months. Each of the four quadrants of the universe has its seven constellations in addition to its connection with specific trigrams, all related to particular aspects of good fortune or difficulty. Each of these elements is further coordinated with one of the five symbolic colors (black, white, red, green, yellow), elements (wood, water, earth, metal, fire), and organs of the human body.

Here are some examples of popular animal symbolism. The crow, surprisingly perhaps, symbolizes the sun. The crane, guide of the Immortals, means long life, as do the dove and the hare. Fish are reminders of renewal of life and abundance. By association with plowing new fields, the ox means spring and vitality. The sharp-eyed, quick-tongued parrot looks after faithfulness in marriage. Flowers, trees, and fruits almost always have some symbolic resonance. The springtime peony means tenderness and womanly beauty, as does the jasmine. The plum means winter and is a reminder of Lao Zi, who was born beneath a plum tree. Bamboo betokens endurance, the orange benevolence. A complete listing would fill several books. Of course, not everyone thinks consciously of specific symbolic meanings upon seeing any of the hundreds of visual decorative motifs in the full catalogue. But most Chinese still grow up surrounded by countless symbolic associations of this kind.


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