Lucky designs

The designs on Chinese glass are both decorative and full of symbolism.

The meanings of some symbols come from their qualities in the natural world, for example plum blossom is the first flower to bloom in China in the spring so people thought of it as a symbol of renewal.

Other symbols come from old stories and folklore. For example people thought that eating peaches would grant long life as in a famous tale about the Queen Mother of the West, Xiwangmu.

Further symbols play on the sounds of words. The word for bat (fu) sounds the same as that for happiness (fu), so bats in Chinese designs indicate a wish for happiness.

Sometimes several symbols are used to together to form a ‘rebus’ or visual pun. For example the word for heroic in Chinese (yingxiong) can be shown by a picture of an eagle (ying) and a bear (xiong) together.

Click on the images to find out more about them.