We hope you enjoyed your July box, which had an Oriental theme. Several of the beads inside the box have particular meanings, so we thought a blog post would be the best way to fill you in on everything:
The endless knot
There were 4 of these connectors in the box. It is a symbolic knot and known as one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols in Tibetan Buddhism. It can also be found in Chinese art and is used in Chinese knots.
It has been described as “an ancient symbol representing the interweaving of the Spiritual path, the flowing of Time and Movement within That Which is Eternal. All existence, it says, is bound by time and change, yet ultimately rests serenely within the Divine and the Eternal.”
The Longevity Lock
The lock began as a silk thread of five colours, known as the Longevity Thread, first documented in the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD). Every household hung this thread on their upper door post to ward off bad luck during the Dragon Boat Festival. As time passed the thread began to be worn on the arms of women and children during the Dragon Boat Festival and also during the Summer Solstice to keep away evil and prolong life.
It then became adopted by the court, and the emperor would award longevity threads to ministers to wear during the festival. At this time they became more complex, with pearls and other added decoration. This custom started to die away in the Ming Dynasty, and gradually it was regarded as an ornament worn by children to bring luck and longevity.
The early longevity locks were mostly made of silver into the shape of Yuanbao (shoe-shaped gold or silver ingot used as money in feudal society) which was used to symbolize wealth and honor. There were also longevity locks in the shape of circular bucket, arris and fire-cracker, etc, with inscriptions of Chinese characters on the front side, such as “Chang Ming Fu Gui (longevity, fortune and honour)” and “Chang Ming Bai Sui (long life of 100 years)”. On the back side, pictures of Kylin (Chinese unicorn), or characters of “Long (dragon)”, “Hu (tiger )” and “Shou (longevity)” are sometimes carved on the back. The cords which are used to hang the lock can be as simple as a red ribbon or as complex as a golden or silver chain or a bunch of pearls or precious stones.
Every box had one fortune cat bell. The cat is known as Maneki-Neko, and originates from Japan. If you’ve ever been to an Oriental restaurant or shop you may have seen a cat in the window.
They can be different colours, with either the left, right or both paws raised.
These have different meanings:
Calico: Traditional color combination, considered to be the luckiest
White: Happiness, purity, and positive things to come
Gold: Wealth and prosperity
Black: Wards off evil spirits
Red: Success in love and relationships
Green: Good health
Right Paw raised: invites money and good fortune (usually to businesses)
Left Paw raised: invites customers or people
(Some suggest the right & left paws both invite business-related prosperity, but that the left paw is for businesses of the night, such as bars, geisha houses & restaurants. Use of lucky cats in homes is more recent)
Both Paws raised: invites protection of home or business.
These carved agate beads have a very particular symbol on them. The creature carved on to them is called Pixiu or Pi Yao (from the Chinese pinyin, meaning to ward off evil spirits). It is a Chinese mythical creature resembling a winged lion. It is an auspicious creature, possessing mystical power to draw wealth from all directions. if you’re going through a bad year, Pixiu may be able to help!
The myth of Pixiu tells that the creature violated a law of heaven, so the Jade Emperor punished it by restricting the Pixiu’s diet to gold. Thus, pixiu can only absorb gold, but cannot expel it. This is the origin of Pixiu’s status as a symbol of the acquisition and preservation of wealth. It is also a fierce creature; the large fangs visible in the creature’s mouth are used to attack demons and evil spirits, draining their essence and converting it to wealth.
During China’s history, Pixiu were commonly displayed in ancient architecture to ward off bad luck and to harness auspicious Qi. You can see statues of a Pixiu on the four corners of the roofs of houses—usually houses of important people such as the emperor. The Pixiu is lined 5th, behind the dragon, phoenix, winged horse and sea horse. In ancient China, statues of Pixiu were also used as tomb guardians.
The Pixiu is also a symbol often used in Feng Shui, to ward off bad luck and attract wealth and success.
The other beads inside the box had oriental connections but had less specific meanings; the pink and white blossoms common to Japanese paintings; a dragon pendant; a cloissone enamel pendant, a technique commonly used in China from the 14th century; the strand of round green beads are jade, often found in oriental jewellery.
We hope you enjoyed this box, we loved putting it together and learning about all the meanings behind the symbols!