According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2022 marks the year of the Tiger.
Tiger, one of the 12 Chinese Zodiac Signs, ranks third and is known as “the King of Animals” due to its fierce character.
The pattern on the tiger’s forehead often resembles the Chinese character 王 (wáng, meaning king) reflecting its dominance.
A lacquer chest with a picture of a tiger
There are a variety of exhibits at Six Arts which are incorporate tiger motifs.
A few museum collection pieces which incorporate tiger motifs are shown below.
Doorknocker in the shape of a tiger’s head
Six Arts Museum has many statues of China’s God of Fortune named Zhao Gongming, who is in charge of the wealth on the earth and rides a strong black tiger.
Statue of Zhao Gongming, God of Fortune
Sun Simiao, God of Medicine, also rides a tiger and is said to be very kind.
Legend has it that he once removed bony spurs in the tiger’s throat and cured it; in a gesture of gratitude, the tiger served Sun Simiao as a mode of transportation.
Statue of Sun Simiao, God of Medicine
Many traditional Door Gods from the Qing Dynasty are dressed in the style of Peking Opera.
Warriors, both male and female, wear armor which is decorated with tiger mofits on the shoulders, waist and so on.
The decorations beautify the costume and also represent the character of the one wearing it.
Door God Panel from Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province
One of the Tibetan Mural themes is of people domesticating a tiger, symbolizing the prevention of plague, accumulation of wealth, as well as power and nobility.
It embodies typical Tibetan ethnic culture.
A Tibetan Painting: Mongolians domesticating a tiger
Thanks to its bravery and agility, tiger motifs can also be found in other auspicious beasts.
Dragon’s paws and Chinese unicorn’s eyes bear resemblance to those of the tiger.
Kylin (Chinese unicorn)
One of the 24 stories of filial children
——fighting a tiger for the father
The tiger is considered as an auspicious beast in traditional Chinese culture.
As a totemic animal in ancient China, it has enjoyed great popularity and symbolizes bravery, fortitude, dignity, power and strength, and we can find it in many Chinese folklore.
We invite you to visit Six Arts to explore the tiger motifs in the year of the Tiger!