Laohu: Tiger Meaning And Symbolize(Symbolism) In Chinese Culture

  
Via:  Buzz of the Orient  •  4 months ago  •  20 comments

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Laohu: Tiger Meaning And Symbolize(Symbolism) In Chinese Culture
 

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BUZZ NOTE: Chinese New Year starts this year on February 1st, when Chinese people in China and throughout the diaspora celebrate The Year of the Tiger.  


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Laohu: Tiger Meaning And Symbolize (Symbolism) In Chinese Culture

Tigers are majestic creatures that are highly revered in China. It is loved not just for its beauty but for its ferocity as well. It is among the most important creatures in China, along with dragons and phoenixes. The Chinese have shared a close relationship with tigers since Ancient China. As such Tigers have many symbolic attributes in Chinese culture.

In this post, we will discuss the role Tigers play in Chinese culture and mythology. We will explore what they symbolize and the meanings they carry, especially during festivals like the Chinese New Year. We will also look at its relation to the dragon, another famed creature in China.  

How To Say Tiger In Chinese?

tiger.jpg

Tiger

The Chinese word for Tiger is Lao Hu. The word Lao is pronounced as ‘lou’ with a rising tone while the word Hu is pronounced as ‘hoo’ with a quick fall and rising tone. Note that Lao is normally written as lao, but when it follows third tones with a fall and rise tone it changes to a rising tone.

There are several other names used to refer to Tigers in Chinese, beginning with the nickname Da Mao, which means big cat. Another name used is Shan Jun which means master of the mountains. You can also use other names like Da Chong, Yu Tu, or Biao.

Tiger In Chinese Mythology.

chinese-mythology-tiger.jpg

Chinese mythology tiger

According to Chinese folklore, Tigers are powerful creatures. They have many powers, including the ability to ward off evil spirits, thieves and prevent fire (the three main disasters of Chinese households). That is why even today, you will find pictures of Tigers hang by the entrance of a Chinese building to act as guardians and scare off any evil. Children are also made to wear clothes and shoes embroidered with tiger heads to protect them from the evil eye. They even sleep in Tiger beddings to ensure they remain robust.

Based on Ancient Chinese mythology there are believed to be five tigers who are responsible for balancing the cosmic forces and maintain harmony in the universe. The first tiger is the Yellow tiger. It is the supreme ruler over all the five and symbolizes the sun. The white tiger is in charge of Fall and controls the metal element. The Blue tiger rules over spring and the earth element. The Black tiger is in charge of winter and the water element. Last but not least, is the Red tiger who rules over summer and controls the fire element.   

Tigers also appear in much classic Chinese literature. They are often portrayed as the main protagonists of the story. In many legends, they are described as killing evil men and saving the righteous as well as fighting off evil forces. In Daoist religion, Zhang Daoling, the ‘First Heaven Master’ is depicted riding a Tiger as he escorts the dead to their final destination wielding a demon-dispelling sword.  

What Does The Tiger Mean In Chinese New Year?

tiger-chinese-new-year-animal.jpg

Tiger Chinese new year animal

Being a powerful creature in Chinese culture, the Tiger is among the animals that feature in the Chinese zodiac signs. It is the third animal in the 12-year cycle zodiac signs where one year is allocated to one of the twelve animals.

As a zodiac sign, Tigers symbolize bravery, strength, and the ability to fight off evil. They are also seen as guardians of infants and children. That is why children wear tiger designs to protect them and bring them good luck. During the year of the Tiger, children have the character Wang drawn on their foreheads using wine and mercury. This is to ensure they have vigor and good health throughout the year. Those born in the Tiger year are considered to

What Does The Tiger Symbolize In Chinese Culture?

tiger-zodiac-paper-cut-chinese-zodiac.jpg

Tiger zodiac paper-cut Chinese zodiac

Aside from being a part of the 12 Chinese zodiacs, tigers are believed to carry the greatest symbolism in Chinese culture. They are believed to be the king of all beasts and the mountains, based on the four stripes on their foreheads, that formed the term ‘Wang’ meaning King.

Tigers also symbolize power and courage. In the Book of rites, they were described as helpful powerful creatures. They would help the people by killing the boars that destroyed the crops in the field. Tigers were seen as protectors and guardians. That is why people would wear tiger charms or clothes to scare off evil and diseases. Tiger statues were also put outside tombs to protect the dead from the evil spirits known to torment them.

According to Chinese astrology, the star Alpha of the great bear constellation is believed to have given birth to the first tiger, represented by the Orion constellation. Tigers are also a representation of the autumn season and rulers of the west in terms of compass directions. They are among the four creatures in China believed to be super intelligent, including the dragon, phoenix, and tortoise. People born during the year of the Tiger are believed to be leaders born to command and not to follow orders. They are also said to be optimistic, generous, tolerant, courageous, and are expected to leave a long life.

What Does The Dragon And Tiger Symbolize?

Dragon-and-Tiger.jpg

Dragon and Tiger

The dragon and tiger are both important symbols in China. They are, however, viewed as completely different spirits yet share some similarities. The Chinese look at them as mortal enemies linked together through destinies. Because neither one can conquer the other one, they are said to be a symbol of balanced power. The tiger is seen as the hard, aggressive power while the dragon is more of the soft, patient, and wise type of power. Some say that in their relationship the tiger represents the earth and matter while the dragon represents heaven and spirit.

Conclusion.

The tiger has been an important symbol and theme in Chinese culture and art for 5,000 years. In China, the Tiger is adored not just for its beauty but also for its power and majesty. This adoration is expressed by the Chinese hanging images and paintings of the tiger in their home or businesses. 

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Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient    4 months ago

This is the second in a series of articles about Chinese New Year being posted on the Discovery Group for those few who may have an open mind for learning about a different culture. 

 
 
 
Krishna
Professor Principal
2  Krishna    4 months ago

Based on Ancient Chinese mythology there are believed to be five tigers who are responsible for balancing the cosmic forces and maintain harmony in the universe. The first tiger is the Yellow tiger. It is the supreme ruler over all the five and symbolizes the sun. The white tiger is in charge of Fall and controls the metal element. The Blue tiger rules over spring and the earth element. The Black tiger is in charge of winter and the water element. Last but not least, is the Red tiger who rules over summer and controls the fire element.

Interesting. I had learned a slightly different set of correspondences:

-Yellow: traditionally Earth, no? (Brown, Terra Cotta colour, Yellow ,maybe Orange= Earth?) Major organ = Spleen. (Apparently in TCM the Spllen is consideredmuch more of a major organ than it is in western medicine.

-White: Metal. That's the same.(Major Organ =Lungs)

-Blue? Dark Blue is water. But regular Blue?

-Black?  Yes, water. That's the same. Water (Major organ =Kidneys.)

Red Fire. That's the same. (Major associated organ =Heart).

I guess when dealing with Tigers...its a horse of another colour! (to coin a phrase)

512

Guess I'm mixing my metaphors, although truth be told I like my metaphors shaken, not stirred!

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
2.1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Krishna @2    4 months ago

Thanks for your input, James, and another ethnic group in China could have yet another interpretation.

 
 
 
Krishna
Professor Principal
2.1.1  Krishna  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2.1    4 months ago
Thanks for your input, James, and another ethnic group in China could have yet another interpretation.

Good point!

I had forgotten that for a moment. 

Different groups-- and even individuals-- have different interpretations!

I could be wrong, but its kinda like the law. At first people might look at what a law says-- but what really counts is how its interpreted,

(Ditto religious teachings..)

 
 
 
Krishna
Professor Principal
3  Krishna    4 months ago

P.S: Tigers are majestic but they scare me. OTOH I am a big fan of Dragons-- they are benevolent protectors!

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
5  seeder  Buzz of the Orient    4 months ago

Even if only one person is interested in this series about Chinese New Year, the meanings, customs and traditions, I am going to continue posting them notwithstanding that the majority of NT members are parochial.  (If anyone is not aware of what that word means, it has synonyms such as "small-minded" and, I'm amused to have seen, "conservative". LOL)

 
 
 
Krishna
Professor Principal
5.1  Krishna  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @5    4 months ago

Well while we're not in the majority there a few people here who interested in those things, so please keep posting.

 
 
 
Krishna
Professor Principal
5.1.1  Krishna  replied to  Krishna @5.1    4 months ago

P.S: A while back I became interested in Feng Shui (ancient Chinese teachings about the flow of energy (Chi) specifically in buildings.). Among other things to do, you can place specific symbolic objects in specific areas. 

However there are some that are so powerful they regulate the flow of Chi in any area. Two of those are Bamboo plants-- and Dragons!

I bought a small carved wooden Dragon and put it in the "Money Corner" of my Living Room (which is the room I work in to earn money).

I also have a small Bamboo plant there as well as a small Jade plant (Jade plant is specific for the money corner).

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
5.1.2  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Krishna @5.1.1    4 months ago

You should recall that the last time you and I had a dialogue about Feng Sui I had told you about my ex-wife hanging a crystal in the hallway of our Toronto home because when one came in through the front door they could see right out through the windows at the back, and she did so to prevent the flow of money from flying out of our home.  

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
5.1.3  Kavika   replied to  Buzz of the Orient @5.1.2    4 months ago

Native Americans want their homes to face east. The direction from which the sun comes. Light dawns in the morning and spreads over the earth. This is the beginning of a new day. It is also the beginning of understanding because light helps us see things the way they really are. 

 
 
 
Krishna
Professor Principal
5.1.4  Krishna  replied to  Krishna @5.1.1    4 months ago

While Feng Shui works with the flow of Chi in buildings, Accupuncture works with the flow of Chi in living things. (As does Tai Chi and also Chi Gong... probably also many other forms of Asian practices).

 
 
 
Krishna
Professor Principal
5.1.5  Krishna  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @5.1.2    4 months ago

That's actually a common problem, and hanging a crystal in the path of the excessive flow of Chi is a common (and correct) "cure"!

 
 
 
Krishna
Professor Principal
5.1.6  Krishna  replied to  Kavika @5.1.3    4 months ago

The direction a home faces is very important in Chinese Feng Shui! So apparently several different cultures are aware of these principles (at least the Chinese, and as I just learned also American Indians!).

And I imagine that there are other indigenous peoples who are as well)

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
6  Kavika     4 months ago

Great article, I love both tigers and dragons.

 
 
 
shona1
Sophomore Participates
7  shona1    4 months ago

Morning..

They are gearing up down Melbourne to celebrate the Chinese New Year..so fingers crossed it goes ahead this year...

Love the picture of the mythical tiger...guess that is one thing we don't have here that can eat you ..

 
 
 
Krishna
Professor Principal
7.1  Krishna  replied to  shona1 @7    4 months ago

Is it true that parts of Australia has a lot of dangerous animals?

 
 
 
shona1
Sophomore Participates
7.1.1  shona1  replied to  Krishna @7.1    4 months ago

Anoon Krishna..errr not parts pretty well all of it..

Snakes from one end of the country to the other, including Tasmania..

Not to mention sharks, crocs, snakes, spiders, jelly fish and anything else that can eat, bite or sting you..

We love it...

 
 
 
Krishna
Professor Principal
7.1.2  Krishna  replied to  shona1 @7.1.1    4 months ago

Australia is one of three countries I'd really like to visit... but not going to do any traveling until this virus is under control. (And in addition there are political tensions between the U.S. & the two others).

 
 
 
charger 383
Professor Quiet
8  charger 383    4 months ago

Tigers and Dragons and Horses, Oh My!

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
8.1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  charger 383 @8    4 months ago

Said by Charger without a tornado in sight. 

 
 

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