Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Drawer # 2.2: Slowly Trotting in with the Year of the Horse

I've been lost in life's sauce... finally surfacing today with the post that should have gone out for Chinese New Year's. But then again, given the state of the world these days (O Ukraine, O so many places & people & things), it's never too late to send out auspicious symbols. 

These being Chinese auspicious symbols, of course, there have to be a lot pertaining to what the street beggars call "moneymoney"...

The Laughing Buddha, Budai, is apparently laughing all the way to the bank, teetering on one gold ingot while hefting another upward. Perhaps better to share it with the God of Wealth, hovering on his own ingot, distinguished by the side flaps on his royal cap and flanked by clouds/yun/云 of
good fortune/yun/运 which are not just lined with silver but laden with gold ingots...

After money, there's food.

Fish/Yu/ you may have read about before on the blog...fishes wish you abundance & prosperity. These ones in the drawer are especially special as they are paired in two: marital happiness. Though they look a lot less happy in their twosomeness out on the street,

like the fate predicted by her mother for writer Amy Tam if she didn't look both ways before crossing the street: "smashed flat two eyes one side of face."

The word for peanut contains the word for "giving birth," not to mention that the nuts in their shell bear a semblance to twins in a womb, so no surprise here: they're auspicious for fertility & abundance. Oranges are the house gift of choice at CNY. The characters of their name can read as "lucky plant," their color associates them with gold, & roundness, in general, is a good thing. Pineapples have too many homophones to mention so let's just say, riches & good fortune. I love them best collapsible.

The character fu for good fortune 福 shows up several times in the drawer as well as, to my surprise, on our front gate, stuck there, I guess, by the neighborhood committee. A good thing as I got to say "fu is upside down" which sounds exactly the same as "good luck has arrived". In this case, the homophone works in my favor but, mostly, people wonder what the hell I'm talking about when I speak chinese. 

Somehow I neglected to stick a bat in the drawer. They're also fu 蝠, good for fortune & happiness, unless they get caught in your hair.

At the top of the drawer, there'a teapot charm: Teapot/hu/  is homophones with the hu-s that mean "protect" & "blessing" which feels exactly right when you think of someone fixing you a soothing cup of tea. But you've probably never thought of it in this way: according to Patricia Bjaaland Welch's book, Chinese Art, the teapot signifies fertility "ostensibly because of the manner in which the spout dips into the waiting cup." And you thought I was being over the top about those baby peanuts. This interpretation does, however, shine a worrisome light on all those non-functional/sculptural teapots out there in the craft world...

And finally, at the bottom, there's those funny fish bone looking things near where the fishes tails ought to be. Those are (meaninglessly upside down) the character shou 壽 written in the ancient seal script. The shou-s are wishing you a long life. (Here they are in their rectangular form. In their round form, they'd be wishing you a natural death at the end of that long life. It's a good wish but still...)

Even if it is just full of sequins & kitschy gold hollow plastic, this drawer sings out with radiant energy. May it bring good things your way.

Drawer #2.2: Plastic charms gathered from the city's markets, disassembled & reorganized; gold sequins, square & circular, sold in huge sacks at the notions market, more coveted by me than are ingots. Photo credit for drawer: Bruno David; all others are mine. Most of the information on the symbolic meanings of things are from
Patricia Bjaaland Welch's wonderful book
Chinese Art: A Guide to Motifs & Visual Imagery.

And just for fun...a little Horse Year tune courtesy of Marybelle Hu...