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Flowers in Chinese design


Flowers, foliage and floral elements have been used in Chinese design for centuries and the familiar cherry blossoms and swirling floral borders are instantly recognisable. Symbolism plays a huge part in oriental design and flowers have a rich and fascinating symbolism that has been used by artists and craftspeople for centuries. From elegantly embroidered silks to beautiful hand painted furniture, flowers have always and will continue to play an important part in Chinese design.

Floral artwork

Flowers are beautiful and varied and have provided centuries of inspiration for artists. From delicate silk tapestries and wall hangings to fine realistic botanical drawings, they have played an important part in Chinese interior design. Floral artwork allows one to bring the natural world into the home in an ordered, beautiful way.

Flower symbolism

Certain flowers are used more frequently in Chinese design and this is often due to their symbolism. The lotus is one of the most commonly occurring floral elements in Chinese design. With its strong links to the Buddha, it symbolizes purity and perfection, something Chinese artists and designers strive for. Peonies were called 'the king of flowers' and loved by artists, ceramicists and poets in China. Representing wealth and honour, peonies were given as farewell gifts and love tokens. Hibiscus is another flower often used in Chinese design, the beautiful drunken hibiscus is white in the morning and turns pink during the day and has inspired artists across China. The orchid is another flower from China that is popular, especially with scholars. Confucius described the orchid as similar to a virtuous man, and it is seen to represent integrity, nobility and friendship.

Decorative borders

Floral elements are used frequently in oriental furniture design too. This Oriental decorated bookcase in blue is a great example of using subtle floral elements in Chinese furniture. The delicate hand painted and gilt decoration features leaves, fruits and flowers for a beautiful traditional effect. Flowers are also used frequently in decorative borders in ceramics, and floral patterns from centuries ago have remained popular and are still used when creating ceramics.

Beautiful fresh flowers

Flower arranging is a fine art and has been throughout Chinese history, and flower artists balanced beauty, structure and meaning, with a natural approach using leaves and rocks. Not only do they smell amazing, fresh flowers are perfect for creating a tranquil soothing environment. A mindful and calming exercise in itself, flower arranging in the Chinese style is a wonderful experience.