(Lian) Plant of the water-lily family that grows in water or mud. Flower of the summer and the seventh month, and the only plant with a place of honor among the Eight Buddhist Emblems. Sacred flower of the Buddhists, symbol of truth, fertility and purity because its blossoms emerge pure and beautiful out of muddy waters. Buddhists view the lotus as a symbol of human beings' true nature, which can remain unstained by the mud of the world. It is also sacred to the Daoists, for it is one of the attributes of the young He Xiangu, one of the Eight Daoist immortals. Rising unsoiled from the mud, the lotus became a symbol of incorruptible honesty and purity, for which it was widely adopted as a motif on all kind of vessels. Vessels shaped like lotus flowers or lotus petals grew in popularity with the arrival of Buddhism to China and began during the Southern Northern Dynasty (420 - 589 AD) when Buddhism was in height. Decorations base on the lotus flower got a wide used in Gold and Silver wares, ceramics, in poetry and in paintings during the Tang and Song dynasties. The lotus flower also represents awakening or enlightenment. In its closed position it only has potential while fully opened it represents being fully awakened. The many seeds of the lotus makes it also a symbol of fertility. Although it was borrowed from Buddhism, the lotus appears in many Daoist religious images.
Photo: John Wocher, 2004