For some time now, I have been keen to develop an Eternal Toile comprising all 10 of the symbols of Longevity as depicted in Chinese mythology. A long, healthy, prosperous life is one of the most admirable and highest goals of humanity. It makes perfect sense that the Chinese, along with many other cultures, established symbols to represent the facets of longevity – Sun, Clouds, Mountains, Water, Trees, Cranes, Turtles, Deer, Mushroom of Mortality & Rock.
A couple of years ago, when I had a little more time (was there such a time?), I made good progress with an Eternal Toile but the development sample did not inspire enough to take forward. I do believe I will get there one day but in the meantime I continue to find inspiration in these life-enhancing symbols. Longevity is a new design that could be considered a milestone on the path towards my Eternal Toile goal. Longevity incorporates some of the most influential symbols of longevity in hues of Pink & Gold.
Throughout Asia, the Crane has long symbolised happiness and eternal youth. Its fabled life span of a thousand years has led Japanese, Chinese, and Korean tradition to embrace the ‘Heavenly Crane’ as a symbol of good fortune, longevity, wisdom and nobility. Two cranes depicted together provide the ultimate symbol of longevity.
Deer & Pine Trees
Known for its endurance, grace, and long life, the deer is another Chinese symbol for longevity. The word for deer in Chinese is lu which translates to mean income. Consequently, the combined meanings represent a prosperous long life. In Chinese art the deer is depicted with court officials; it is said that this signifies a wish for fame, recognition and a long, successful career.
Because of their endurance, and steadfastness even in the most harsh weather conditions, the pine trees are honored Chinese symbols for long life. The pine is often depicted in Chinese art with other symbols of longevity such as the peach, the god Sau, deer, and also mentioned in the tales of the Eight Immortals. Having pine trees on your property is said to be highly auspicious. Take care to always keep these healthy as they will assure long happy lives for you and all those who live upon your property.
In Chinese mythology, mountains were imbued with sacred power, as manifestations of nature’s vital energy (qi). They attracted the rain clouds that watered the farmer’s crops, they concealed medicinal herbs, magical fruits, and alchemical minerals that held the promise of longevity.
Mountains pierced by caves and grottoes were viewed as gateways to other realms—”cave heavens” (dongtian) leading to Daoist paradises where immortality may be found and inhabitants live in harmony. Men were known to wander in the mountains in quest of immortality and to purify the spirit. Daoist and Buddhist holy men gravitated to sacred mountains to build meditation huts and establish temples. They were followed by pilgrims, travellers, and sightseers : poets who celebrated nature’s beauty, city dwellers who built country estates to escape the dust and pestilence of crowded urban centres, and during periods of political turmoil, officials and courtiers who retreated to the mountains as places of refuge.
Thanks for reading,