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published: 1/18/05
updated: 6/11/14

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Chinese Religious Symbols

What are the Symbols of Taoism?

yin yang

Name: Yin-Yang or Taijtu

The yin-yang (Taijitu) symbol 太極圖 is one of the most common Taoist symbols. Most of the time, this symbol represents two opposing and complementary forces that make up all phenomena of life. Most Taoist organizations display the yin-yang in some way. This symbol is also very common among all Chinese religious faiths.

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taoism big dipper

Name: The Big Dipper

These seven bright stars of Ursa Major, commonly known as the Big Dipper, have been tradtionally used as a symbol in Chinese religion, including Taoism. During the Shang Dynasty (cr. 1,600-1,000 B.C.), the Big Dipper was considered a deity, and in later dynasties it has been venerated as well.

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Symbolic Foods

Feasting is central to Chinese religious practice, and most foods have a symbolic meaning and ceremonial importance. Some examples include:

taoism big dipper
  • Mandarin oranges are a symbol of wealth and good fortune
  • Red Jujubes (also called "Chinese Dates") are a symbol of prosperity
  • whole steamed fish are a symbol of long life and good fortune
  • uncut noodles are a symbol of longevity
  • baked goods with seeds are a symbol of fertility

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