Bats (Fú 蝠)

bats

Bat ( 蝠)

Bats our Western tradition are associated with Halloween, vampires, and scary or evil things. In traditional China, however, bats are good, wonderful symbols.

In the Chinese language many words that have different meanings sound alike (they are homophones).  The Chinese word for bat () sounds exactly like the word for blessing (fú).  So, bats are associated with receiving blessings or good fortune and are an important symbol of happiness and joy.

You often see bats in groups—not alone.  A pair of bats is a way of saying: “May you have double blessings” (Bartholomew).  Another popular image of bats is in groups of five.  Here they represent the Five Blessings: long-life, riches, health, love of virtue, and a natural death (Eberhard).  The Five Blessings were first mentioned in Chinese books around 480-221 BC!  A long tradition of wishing people the best.

Bats are also often shown upside down, which tells you that your blessings have arrived and are pouring out onto you—another good symbol!

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