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4 nobles


Traditional Chinese painting was inspired directly by nature. Therefore, the most popular themes that we can meet in it  are directly related to  with nature: fauna and flora. We present and explain the most popular of them . N At the beginning we will deal with the "4 noble" ones.


In China, these 4 plants are called 4 noble  (四 君子), the plum personifies nobility and vitality, orchid beauty and elegance, bamboo, and perseverance.   Plum, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum have become symbols of Chinese feelings, and are also the most common themes in  poetry and Chinese painting. "4 noble" represent  also 4 seasons [春梅 、 夏兰 、 秋菊 、 冬 竹].

Plum flowers    (梅, méi)

This is exactly the species: Japanese apricot, ume, comes from central China.  Plum flowers are one of the most beloved flowers in China, they have been often depicted in Chinese painting and poetry for centuries. The Chinese see these flowers both as a symbol of winter and a harbinger of spring, as plum blossoms bloom very early (in winter) contrasting with the surrounding snow landscape. They are a symbol of nobility i vitality. The plum blossoms represent winter.

plum blossom picture
xieyi plum blossom

Orchid   (兰, lán)

More specifically, this cymbidium - a genus of plants from the orchid family. Since ancient times, people considered orchids a symbol of nobility, elegance, purity and beauty . Orchidea w Chinach also symbolizes a beautiful woman (佳人1905-5c_bc-3194-5c cde-78). 136bad5cf58d_ Orchid painting is extremely important to improve the overall ability in Chinese painting, therefore the orchid theme is extremely popular in beginner books. The orchid represents spring.

orchid image
xieyi orchid

Bamboo (竹, zhú)

Among the famous masters of traditional Chinese painting there were many who liked to paint bamboo. The bamboo stalk is hollow, which symbolizes tolerance and openness, while  the flexibility and strength of the bamboo stalk is symbolized by strength and vitality. Painting bamboo is very helpful for beginners. Bamboo represents summer.

bamboo fan
bamboo xieyi

Chrysanthemum (菊, jú)

Flos chrysanthemum - Chinese chrysanthemum. For centuries, chrysanthemum has been valued by writers for its clean and elegant character as well as colorful and interesting appearance. The chrysanthemum that blooms late autumn is also  a symbol of hermit's life and feelings. The chrysanthemum represents autumn.

xieyi chrysanthemum

Prepared by: Dorota Pingot-Kupść

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