In Chinese decorative arts pictured flowers, fruits, and trees are representations for various aspects of life. Knowing the symbolic meaning of a plant enables you to understand the hidden message.
Every flower, branch and leave is counted to ensure irregularity (especially in displays); an odd number is preferable since it is meant to convey the dynamic irregularity of the life force itself. Unopened buds should always be included among flowers in bloom, as they represent life’s continuous journey. The colours of the plants should coordinate with the color of the container, appearing to spill naturally out of it.
Below a brief list of the symbolic meaning of some flowers, fruits and trees:
Also known as the "Eight Buddhist Treasures". As a decorative motif, the Eight Buddhist Symbols first appeared on ceramics during the Yuan dynasty. They are, from top left:
As a group, they symbolize Taoism, transmutation, and happiness. Each of these symbols is the attribute of one of the Eight Immortals - legendary figures said to have obtained immortality through the elixir of life produced by alchemy or by eating magic fruits. Although some of the Eight Immortals form part of the Daoist's legend, it is unlikely that as a group they were honored any earlier than the Yuan Dynasty. Each represents a character or a condition and in turn an object symbolizes each Immortal.
Eight Precious Things, also known as the Eight Treasures, or babao in Chinese, are auspicious symbols of good fortune. They often occur as a complete or partial set as decoration on ceramics from the Yuan dynasty and on. Sometimes they are combined with other auspicious motifs. They also occur individually as porcelain base marks. Red ribbons makes each a charm. They are from top left: