The Peony in Chinese Artwork

‘Peony’ by Yun Shouping, Qing Dynasty (Image: Screenshot/Secret China)
‘Peony’ by Yun Shouping, Qing Dynasty (Image: Screenshot/Secret China)

The peony, known as the King of Flowers, has long been regarded by Chinese culture as a symbol of wealth, good fortune, happiness, and prosperity, and is a common theme in Chinese artwork. Peonies are not only beautiful, but also have a strong and lovely fragrance. For these reasons, peonies were often portrayed by ancient Chinese artists.

The first peony painting was found in the Northern Qi Dynasty by Yang Zihua. In modern times, a concise style was used by painting masters, such as Qi Baishi, who portrayed peonies full of vitality while using just a few brushstrokes.

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‘Peonies and Doves’ by Chen Zhifo. (Image: Screenshot/Secret China)

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‘Blooming Beautiful Flowers’ by Qi Baishi. (Image: Screenshot/Secret China)

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‘Peony’ by Zhao Zhiqian, Qing Dynasty. (Image: Screenshot/Secret China)

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‘Prosperity and Longevity’ (‘Peony and Paradise Flycatchers’) by Qi Baishi. (Image: Screenshot/Secret China)

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‘Peonies and Double Magpies’ by Wang Li, Qing Dynasty. (Image: Screenshot/Secret China)

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‘Peony’ by Huang Shanshou. (Image: Screenshot/Secret China)

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‘White Peony’ by Zhang Daqian. (Image: Screenshot/Secret China)

Fengshui tips for hanging a paintings of peonies in your home

Because Chinese regard the peony as an auspicious symbol, a peony painting is the No. 1 choice to hang in rooms that have auspicious requirements. A peony painting is especially suitable for hanging in your living room or bedroom (for couples). It is best to hang paintings of peonies so they are facing to the south or north in the room. According to the Chinese Theory of the Five Elements, the peony represents “wood” (木 mù), which is associated by the direction east. North is the source of “water” (水 shuǐ) in fengshui (风水) theory. Wood flourishes because of water. The south is the converging place of “fire” (火 huǒ) in fengshui theory. Hanging southward represents the prosperous meaning of wood being used to make fire. The west is associated with “metal” (金 jīn). Since “metal” restrains “wood,” it is not appropriate for the painting to face westward.

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