The Circular Chinese Longevity Symbol: An Emblem of Prosperity and Longevity
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The Circular Chinese Longevity Symbol

Last Updated: 2023-05-31
Chinese Longevity Symbol

Chinese culture is steeped in symbolism, and one of the most recognizable and revered symbols is the circular Chinese longevity symbol. You may have wondered “what does this Chinese symbol mean?” It is the Chinese character for longevity, or “shou” (寿). More than just an abstract Asian design, it holds significant meaning in Chinese culture and is an essential decorative element in Chinese daily life.

What does the Chinese longevity symbol look like?

The Chinese symbol for longevity is derived from the Chinese character "shou" (寿), which means "longevity" or "long life." It is often depicted in a circular shape, incorporating the fundamental principle of Yin and Yang. The circle represents unity, wholeness, and eternity, emphasizing the cyclical nature of life and the pursuit of balance and harmony. The top and bottom strokes of the character curve inwards, pairing well with Chinese key patterns as well as scroll designs. Completely symmetrical for the aspect of balance, it can be spotted especially as a fabric pattern embroidered into colorful royal silk robes. The also popular, more archaic version of the character more closely resembles the character in its original form, yet still maintains symmetry. This form of the character is more often used in painted objects like wood furniture or ceramics.

Chinese Longevity Symbol red fabric

A Chinese symbol with a deep meaning

The symbolism of the Chinese longevity symbol goes beyond a mere wish for a long life. It embodies the desire for a life filled with blessings, happiness, and prosperity. In Chinese culture, longevity is highly esteemed and associated with wisdom, good fortune, and spiritual fulfillment. The circular form of the symbol further represents the interconnectedness of all aspects of life, suggesting that longevity is not only about physical health but also encompasses mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Gifting & other longevity Chinese symbols

The longevity symbol often appears on various auspicious items and gifts, such as paintings, pottery, clothing, and jewelry. In Chinese culture, birthdays are not only for celebrating life, but are also an opportunity to wish for many more years of life to come. By incorporating a Chinese long life symbol into these items, the giver expresses their heartfelt wishes for the recipient's good health and happiness. Popular examples of gifts bearing symbols of long life in Chinese culture include peaches, pine trees, and figures of the Chinese God of Longevity. On Chinese birthdays, noodles are an obligated dish to serve as the length of the noodles resemble a long life. The number “9” (jiǔ 九) the symbol of longevity in Chinese numerology because it is phonetically similar to the Chinese word for “long”.

As for what flower symbolizes longevity, there have been a few selected when portrayed in art; chrysanthemums and roses to name a few. Similar to the concept of word association for “9”, the Chinese word for chrysanthemum is also close in phonetics to the words “long” and “stay”. Roses symbolize eternal Spring due to their long-lasting blooms. For those of you that want something more subtle than hanging a long life sign in your living room, these options may be what you’re looking for.

Chinese Longevity Symbol red fabric

FABRIC-FL2 This silk fabric design shows the longevity symbol in two different forms and also the chrysanthemum flower, which is also associated with longevity.

Chinese Longevity Symbol coasters

Set of 6 Coasters with Embroidered Gold Chinese Longevity Emblem

Placement & Feng Shui for longevity

The circular longevity symbol is commonly found in Chinese design, particularly in traditional architecture, artwork, and decorative objects. It can be seen adorning the entrances of homes, temples, and ancestral halls, serving as a talisman to ward off negative energy and invite blessings into the space. Intricately carved and painted, the symbol adds a touch of elegance and cultural heritage to the surroundings.

Longevity motifs are present on home décor that is placed in social areas where time is spent with beloved family members and friends. More personal objects, such as desks and bedroom furniture may also have a special longevity symbol, if desired. Among our most popular furniture products, the circular Chinese symbol of longevity can be viewed as a motif carved into the backs of chairs and headboards/footboards. They can also be seen incorporated into functional drawer pulls of chests and cabinets, where they are frequently interacted with.

In addition to its decorative use, the circular longevity symbol is also prevalent in traditional Chinese medicine and practices. It is believed that by meditating on or wearing the symbol, one can cultivate a positive mindset and promote well-being, leading to a longer and healthier life. The symbol acts as a reminder of the importance of balance, mindfulness, and the pursuit of a harmonious existence.

Chinese Longevity Symbol wood carving

In conclusion

The longevity symbol is just one of many unique Chinese designs with a strong message - suitable for decorative purposes and a meaningful gifting.

The enduring popularity of the circular longevity symbol reflects its timeless appeal and cultural significance in Chinese society. It serves as a powerful reminder to cherish life, seek balance, and strive for longevity in all its dimensions. Whether as an ornamental motif or a spiritual emblem, the symbol embodies the aspirations of the Chinese people for a prosperous and fulfilling existence.

As Chinese culture continues to influence and captivate the world, the circular longevity symbol stands as a poignant representation of the deep-rooted values and wisdom that have been passed down through generations. Its beauty and symbolism transcend boundaries, making it an enduring symbol of hope, prosperity, and the universal desire for a long and meaningful life.

Chinese Longevity Symbol embroidery

If you enjoyed this article, we recommend ‘Double Happiness, Double Joy: The Chinese “Shuangxi” Symbol’ for more rich content on unique Chinese Symbols and meanings.

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Publisher: China Furniture and Arts Enterprises Inc. China Furniture Logo