Going all the way back to the Zhou Dynasty (1046 – 256 BCE), Chinese patterns and motifs commonly incorporate elements of five traditional blessings that the Chinese most desire. These blessings are long life, riches, soundness of mind and good health, love of virtue and a peaceful, natural death.
By using word play and weaving it with Chinese iconography and motifs, you can often see a coded montage of the five blessings in Chinese artwork. ARCH’s Oriental Collection has similarly incorporated these elements in its Oriental Collection so that they can be presented as personal and corporate gifts; and dedicated as lasting keepsakes of love, longevity and abundance to loved ones.
Fu 福 - Happiness, Prosperity and Blessing
Left of the 福word is 礻, which is the image of an altar for making offerings. It can also be seen as a prayer for one’s well-being. The phonetic side 畐is made of a shortened version of 高 (high) and 田(field), which symbolises the produce of a field/farm stacked high. This symbolises a bestowing of abundant blessings.
Deciphering the rebus:
The lotus flower represents longevity and spiritual ascendency. Magpies (喜鹊) are seen as bringers of good news, while 喜 is the character for happiness. The lotus and bud represents a scholar passing examination after examination (see the explanation for 禄). Taken together, the rebus symbolises the fulfillment of aspirations, be it is wealth, education or the ascension to spiritual revelation. This artpiece is a premium and auspicious gift for someone to receive blessings and accomplish greater achievements.
Lu 禄- Salary and Prosperity
In the Shuo Wen Jie Zi (说文解字), an early dictionary, 禄 (lu) is equivalent to福. 禄 is a scholar’s salary. During the Tang Dynasty, it is associated with a scholar’s ambition – A successful career as an influential policy and military advisor in the imperial court. Attaining such an official position was like gaining immortality. Hence, it signifies a scholar’s dreams of fame, fortune and glory in his career. The fulfilment of such ambition is a divine blessing, as embodied by礻.
Deciphering the rebus:
禄 is represented by a deer (鹿) as both words are homophones and have the same pronounciation (lu). The deer symbolises long life and wealth. The lotus flower with lotus bud (莲花及蒂) expresses the wish to continually pass examinations and develop into an influential and honourable court official. The lotus, together with 禄 and 鹿, links a pious and successful career with a propitious salary. One is blessed with a long life (symbolised by the peach and deer) to enjoy an illustrious career. When one is favoured with 禄, he/she is also blessed with prosperity 福. This premium gift is suitable to encourage or commend someone towards higher vocations and a successful career.
Shou 寿 - Longevity
寿consists of the traditional radical 老, meaning “old age” above and 畴 beneath, meaning “ploughed fields”. Having a long life also means having the means to live well without suffering and eventually meet a natural death, as in the five blessings. This premium rebus artwork celebrates and reveres the magnificence of the silver years, lived fruitfully and without worries.
Symbolic meaning of the woodcrafted rebus:
Bats 蝠 (fu) is a homophone with 福, implying wealth and prosperity, while peaches symbolise long life. Taken together, it represents福寿双全(fu shou shuang quan) which means “May you have complete (plentiful) prosperity and longevity”.
Shuang Xi 囍 – Double Happiness
Read as shuang xi (双喜), this is a double of the word happiness (喜). It is symbolic of a couple tying the knot. Commonly found on doors, above the bed and ceiling, it is commonly used to congratulate a newly-wed couple. The flowers symbolise an auspicious marriage. This gift is ideal as a Singapore premium gift for a newly-wed couple symbolising marital bliss.
Hua Kai Fu Gui 花开富贵 – Flowers Blossoms, Prosperity Comes
The words 花开means flowers blooming, while 富贵 means riches and honour. Chinese idioms often come from classical literature and they are more than literal representations of the imagery they represent. This Chinese idiom captures the happiness of re-awakening after a long winter gloom. Nature is alive with flourishing, new growth. A symbol of uninterrupted expansion and prosperity, this artwork is a unique and suitable gift for businesses and families, bestowing riches and honour to the recipient(s).
福 (Fu), 禄 (Lu), 寿 (Shou) and囍 (Shuang Xi) represents the hallmarks of a good life. They are commonly displayed in houses, offices and during auspicious occasions. Gifting all three rebuses and the idiom 花开富贵 (Hua Kai Fu Gui) is a joy and blessing to someone representing the five blessings in life to the recipient.