China is Batty !
- Bats in Chinese Art<br>by Stephen J. Kern
<br><br>Chinese art abounds with bats. They fly from the folds of
fabrics and chase each other across the finest china.
Jade bats adorn jewelry, and golden bats grace the
most ornate altar cloths. Tapestries and toys,
scepters, saddles and sashes, and many other objects are
likely to be decorated with beautiful bats. While
European and early-American artists used bats and bat
wings to depict devils and demons, the Chinese
embellished their cherished artifacts with the same winged
mammals many Westerners find repulsive. <br><br>Those who
were taught to dislike bats can learn a great deal
from Chinese art. Oriental bat motifs encourage us to
view bats more favorably, as objects of beauty.
Chinese artists have long used five bats to represent the
five blessings: health, long life, prosperity, love of
virtue, and a tranquil, natural death. The bats often are
bright red� the color of joy. Sometimes they encircle a
stylized caligraph known as the prosperity symbol. This
popular bat motif often was embroidered on expensive
clothing to imply that a person's prosperity had resulted
from a virtuous lifestyle. <br><br>The Chinese word
for bat is "fu," and the word for happiness also is
pronounced "fu." Two bats sketched on the wrapping of a gift
convey best wishes and good fortune. Two butterflies,
symbolic of marital bliss, often accompany bats on
presents to newlyweds. Throughout Asian culture, bats
continue to evoke strong, positive emotions.
<br><br>Chinese admiration for bats began thousands of years
before Christ. The Oriental world was viewed as an
eternal interplay between active (male) and passive
(female) forces. Bats were thought to embody the male
principle� flowers and fruits, the female. The bat commonly
was pictured with the peach, a popular female
fertility symbol. We now know that the pairing of peaches
and bats portrays an ecological as well as mystical
relationship. Peaches (one of man's most popular fruits) were
first cultivated in China approximately 5,000 years
ago. Before that, peaches relied on bats for dispersal
of their seeds. <br><br>Ancient scholars thought
bats attained very old age because they lived deep in
caves and because "they swallowed their breath." While
the mystery of bat longevity remains unsolved,
researchers have confirmed that bats far outlive other
mammals of similar size. In a culture that venerated
wisdomed old age, bats became a symbol of these virtues.
Bat designs even were used on household shrines
honoring deceased relatives. Such usage clearly indicates
the high status of bats in the artistic and cultural
heritage of China.
- I think bats are so cool and cute! I especially like Flying Foxes because the look adorable. =P can someone post some good pictures of flying foxes?