The Chinese symbolic language goes far beyond the boundaries of the physical world. Since ancient times, mythical creatures have been a part of spiritual life, superstition, folklore and religion.
With traces leading back to the 6th millennium BC, the dragon evolved from a stylized representation of a creature of nature into a mythical figure boasting nine anatomical resemblances with animals – from claws similar to those of an eagle to scales mimicking the skin of a carp and a snake-like neck.
Originally, the dragon is thought to have been a benevolent rain deity. Rain dances were performed in honour of its power to bring fertility and abundance. But as a symbol of the emperor, the dragon represented almighty power and potential danger as well.
Another mighty, mythical presence in Chinese culture is the stylized lion or ‘foo dog’.
Porcelain figurines or bronze foo dogs are often found in house interiors, but stone sculptures of the ‘guardian lions’ or ‘shishi’ are often integrated into architecture as well.
Foo dogs were thought to protect properties from physical and spiritual harm. Originally a trait of Chinese palaces - where they were commonly positioned at gates, stairs or portals - they soon spread to other countries and became a globally recognized icon of Asian culture.