Chinese Lotus Flower

Lotus flower with pavilion, Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China
Lotus flower with pavilion, Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China. Getty Images/Keren Su/China Span

The lotus’ importance comes from Buddhism and is one of the eight precious things in Buddhism. The lotus (蓮花, lián huā, 荷花, hé huā) is known as the gentleman’s flower because it grows out from the mud, pure and unstained. The ‘he’ in a man’s name indicates he is either a Buddhist or connected to Buddhism. The ‘he’ in a woman’s name is a wish that she be pure and respected.

The lotus is said to bloom in Beijing on lunar April 8 (the Buddha’s birthday) and lunar Jan.

8 is Lotus Day.

In Buddhism, the lotus symbolizes:

  • One who comes out of mire but is not sullied
  • Inwardly empty, outwardly upright
  • Purity
  • Fruit, flower and the stalk of the lotus = past, present and future

蓮 (lián) sounds similar to 聯 (lián, to bind, connect as in marriage); 戀(liàn) means to 'love' while 廉 (lián) means 'modesty;' 荷 ()sounds similar to 和 ( , also, one after another, uninterrupted).

A cultural taboo related to the lotus is if a woman sews on lunar Jan. 8 (Lotus Day), she will have menstrual trouble.

Famous Pictures and Sayings Related to the Lotus

  • Lotus bloom with a leaf and bud = complete union
  • Magpie sitting on the stamens of a blown lotus and picking seeds: xiguo = may you have the joy (xi) of passing one exam (guo) after another (lian)
  • A boy with a carp (yu) beside a lotus (lian) = may you have abundance (yu) year in and year out (lian)
  • Two lotus blooms or a lotus and a blossom on one stem = wish for shared heart and harmony because 荷 () means union.
  • A lotus (which represents a girl) and a fish (symbolizing a boy) = love
  • Red lotus blossom symbolizes the female genitals and courtesans were often called ‘red lotus.’
  • Lotus stem symbolizes the male genitals
  • A blue lotus stem (qing) symbolizes cleanliness and modesty
  • Lotus symbolizes He Xian-gu
  • Picture of a man on a boat surrounded by lotus blossoms = writer and philosopher Zhou Dun-yi (1017-1073) who liked the flower.

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    Mack, Lauren. "Chinese Lotus Flower." ThoughtCo, Feb. 25, 2017, thoughtco.com/chinese-flower-lotus-687523. Mack, Lauren. (2017, February 25). Chinese Lotus Flower. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/chinese-flower-lotus-687523 Mack, Lauren. "Chinese Lotus Flower." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/chinese-flower-lotus-687523 (accessed November 18, 2017).