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Chinese Phoenix, Asian Phoenix
Chinese = Fèng Huáng, Jp. = Hō-ō 鳳凰
Source: ARISING PHOENIX web site. The phoenix of Chinese legend is a symbol of heaven’s favor, virtue and grace, luck and happiness. It is worshipped as one of four sacred creatures presiding over China’s destinies. The four animals; dragon, tiger, unicorn (or deer) and phoenix are called 'si ling' in Chinese, but with the passage of time, animals such as the snake and the turtle were added to this group of animals to be worshipped. The Shang ritual cups and bronze decorations of the Western Zou period, of 3,000 years ago, depict the images of five animals often repeated: the lion, the fish, the deer, the dragon and the phoenix.
The phoenix is ofter paired with the dragon,
representing both conflict and wedded bliss
Above Photo: Hall of Heavenly and Terrestrial Union (China)
Ornamental door design of Phoenix (Empress) and Dragon (Emperor)
Like the dragon, with which the phoenix is always associated, it symbolizes the union of yin and yang, peace and disharmony and like the dragon, the phoenix is also made up of elements, typifying the entire cosmos of the six celestial bodies; it has the head of a cock which symbolises the sky (the eyes, the sun); the back of a swallow as the crescent moon; its wings are the wind; its tail represents the planets (trees and flowers); and its feet are the earth. The Chinese phoenix was thought to have a large bill, the neck of a snake, and the tail of a fish. It represents the element of fire and its season is summer and drought.
An interesting difference between the way the dragon and the phoenix are shown in decorations is that the dragon is used to fill all the space available on a vase for example, while the phoenix is used to fill specific space in the decoration such as around trees, rocks, and flowers. The symbol of the phoenix has appeared on objects in China for over 7000 years. Often in jade and originally on good-luck totems. During the Han period, 2,200 years ago, the Red Bird represented south as the cardinal direction honored by the Shang. The phoenix symbol was often depicted in a pair with a male and female phoenix facing each other.
In the Chinese art of placement, known as feng shui, the phoenix figures prominently, representing the south point of the compass, for south was considered the ideal way for one's house to face. In The Feng Shui Handbook, Master Lam Kam Chuen writes: A mythical bird that never dies, the phoenix flies far ahead to the front, always scanning the landscape and distant space. It represents our capacity for vision, for collecting sensory information about our environment and the events unfolding within it. The phoenix, with its great beauty, creates intense excitement and deathless inspiration. The phoenix was also used to mark the location where treasure was buried.
If a phoenix was used to decorate a house it symbolized the loyalty and honesty of the people that lived there. Depictions of the phoenix were placed on tombs and graves. A common depiction was of the phoenix shown with spread wings, often in the act of attacking snakes with its strong talons.
The right to wear jewellery depicting the phoenix was reserved for important people, a phoenix design showed the wearer as a person of high moral values. T'ang dynasty gold phoenix hair ornaments lent the wearer the protection and majesty of the bird.
It was believed that the phoenix's song controlled the five tones of Chinese music. The song includes all five notes of the traditional Chinese musical scale; Western music theory labels the scale as the pentatonic scale consisting of five whole notes. In the time of Chou Muwang, Chou Dynasty, 1111-249 B.C., the phoenix of Mount Chhi sang as a happy portent.
In Chinese mythology, the phoenix is represented by the Feng Huang which personifies the primordial force of the heavens. It was thought to be a gentle creature, alighting so gently that it crushed nothing, and ate only dewdrops. The Feng does not exist in nature, it is the mythical bird of fire and represents the Confucian virtues of loyalty, honesty, decorum and justice.
The Feng originated from fire being born in the "Hill of the Sun's Halo." Its plumage blends the five fundamental colours: black, white, red, green, and yellow. The song of the bird is the harmony of the five notes. Symbolizing the Five Cardinal Virtues: "Its colour delights the eye, its comb expresses righteousness, its tongue utters sincerity, its voice chants melody, its ear enjoys music, its heart conforms to regulations, its breast contains the treasures of literature, and its spurs are powerful against transgressors."
It's flight represents the capacity to leave the world and its problems behind, flying towards the sun in clear pure skies. It carries in its bill either two scrolls or a square box that contains sacred books. The Feng appears only in peaceful and prosperous times, and hides itself when there is trouble. Therefore, the Feng is both a sign of peace and a symbol of disharmony.
The male phoenix is named "feng" and is the yang, solar, fire bird, but as the female "huang" it is feminine, yin, and lunar. The feminine aspect denotes beauty, delicacy of feeling, and peace. The Feng and the Huang together symbolize everlasting love, and as a bridal symbol signifies "inseparable fellowship." The Feng symbolizes a duality, the yin-yang, mutual interdependence in the universe.
The Feng Huang or Fung; the "vermilion bird," the "substance of the flame." This bird, has three legs and lives in the sun. The Feng is depicted as a bird of shining colours with the head and comb of a pheasant and the feathers and tail of a peacock.
Around 2,000 years ago the Feng came to represent the power sent from the heavens to the Empress and may be found paired with the dragon, in which case the dragon represents the Emperor and the phoenix the Empress. When portrayed with the dragon as a symbol of the Emperor, the phoenix becomes entirely feminine to symbolize the Empress, and together they represent both aspects of imperial power. In ancient times, the Feng frequented the gardens and palaces of righteous Emperors. Only the empress was allowed to wear its symbol, representing power, prosperity and propriety.
Above Text Courtesy of Arising Phoenix Web Site
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