Daoism and Cct

Signs and Symbols

What signs or symbols might identify someone as a Daoist or practitioner of CCT?

Symbols associated with religious beliefs and folk practices abound in societies heavily influenced by Chinese culture. Over the centuries, the major Chinese religious traditions—Daoist, Confucian, Buddhist, and popular—have shared many of those symbols and signs. Overlapping of symbols of various traditions makes it difficult, if not impossible, to know at a glance to which tradition the owner and user of the symbols belongs.

Signs and symbols generally associated with CCT include a vast range of protective and magical devices, amulets and talismans. Perhaps the most widely used symbol is that of the perfect harmony of Yin and Yang. Appearing on all sorts of personal items such as rings and pendants, the so-called tai ji (Supreme Ultimate) is a circle in which two equal but opposite curving tear-shapes embrace. In other words, an S-curve line divides the circle in two equal parts. The darker half symbolizes Yin, the brighter half Yang, but the commingling of the two is symbolized by a dark dot in the larger end of the Yang shape and a corresponding bright dot in the Yin shape. Sometimes, as on the national flag of South Korea, that symbol is surrounded by the eight Trigrams (ba gua). The Trigrams are made up of combinations of solid Yang lines and broken Yin lines.

Charm-like devices are extremely popular in Chinese societies. Textiles and other decorative items, like ceramic wares, invariably display a range of symbolic features. Symbols can include any of dozens of animal, plant, or inanimate objects associated with aspects of the greatest mysteries of life, of those things that human beings most hope for or fear. For example, the tortoise and crane mean long life, the dragon means protection, the phoenix warmth. The heron and countless other birds of good omen betoken happiness, while creatures of ill omen, such as the owl, portend death and bad fortune.


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