Symbolism and hidden Meanings in Chinese Art With Best Wishes: Symbolism and Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art
12/18/2003 to 8/28/2004
The Pacific Heritage Museum is presenting an exhibition on Chinese decorative arts with artifacts from the 19th and 20th centuries. Titled "With Best Wishes: Symbolism and Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art," the exhibition focuses on the Chinese use of decorative images and motifs as symbols to invoke good fortune, long life, and wealth.

The desire for peace and well-being is a commonality among all humankind. Due to cultural diversities, manners in which these desires are expressed vary from one group of people to another. Since ancient times, by surrounding themselves with images rich in symbolic meanings, the Chinese had hoped to create an environment protected from misfortune, bad omens, and disaster. As early as the Shang dynasty (1523-1023 BCE), auspicious sayings such as da jie (大吉) or "vast auspiciousness" and wan shou wu jiang (萬壽無疆) or a phrase for "may you live for ten thousand years" had already appeared in oracle bone writings. From the Han dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE) onwards, these propitious phrases, words and symbols abound on vessels and utensils as well as other forms of decorative arts.

This exhibition explores the five most sought-after values in Chinese culture- blessings (fu ), prosperity (lu 祿), longevity (shou ), wealth (cai ), and happiness (xi ). The art objects include jades, embroideries, children's clothing, wooden utensils, a 19th c. bed and other large furniture, and come from different art collectors in the Bay Area. The Museum is most grateful to all the collectors and lenders for their generous loan to this exhibit. In particular, we thank Ted Cohen, Willis Deming, Patsy Lee Donegan, East Asian Art Association, June and Humphrey K. F. Hui, Larkspur Collection, Sandra Khoo and Andrew Lee, George McWilliams, Mr. and Mrs. Meng C. Peng, and Denise and Alan Tom. The Museum is also thankful to Sally Yu Leung, Asian Art Commissioner, who curated the exhibition.
Blessings
Blessings
Prosperity
Prosperity
Longevity
Longevity
Wealth
Wealth
Happiness
Happiness