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Chinese Bamboo Paintings

Chinese bamboo paintings are very popular in both China and in western countries. It is said that bamboo symbolizes resilience and integrity because bamboo bends under extreme forces but does not break. Because of these two qualities, bamboo is a common theme in Chinese paintings.

Bamboo is often painted together with plum trees. When painted together, bamboo represents man, and plum trees represent woman. This strength of man and the fertility of woman are represented in these paintings.

Chinese Bamboo Painting
Chinese bamboo paintings often include pine trees and plum trees. When painted together, they are commonly known as the Friends of Winter. The Friends of Winter got their name because all three remain tall and straight through the coldest of winters. All three painted together symbolize lasting friendship. This is because they endure the harshest and most extreme conditions without dying.

Chinese paintings portray bamboo as delicate, lush, slender, or strong. It is quite common that more than one of these qualities is the focal point in bamboo paintings. Because bamboo is a grass, the leaves appear delicate and slender. What is not commonly known is that the leaves are a great food source for animals and protective for nesting animals. This is commonly depicted in Chinese paintings.

Although some bamboo species flowers every year, most bamboo flowers infrequently. Some types of bamboo flowers at intervals as long as 120 years. When bamboo does flower, all plants of that species tend to flower together and then die. This flowering is beautiful to behold. When flowering bamboo is painted, the painting tends to represent the cycle of life. This is true for the bamboo, and also for the people living near these bamboo forests. The rodents that live in the area engorge themselves, and populate quickly. They then leave the area when their food source has been consumed and feed on everything else in the area, including grains and fruits that humans eat. These rodents not only bring famine, but they bring many diseases. In this manner, the flowering bamboo also signifies the life cycle of people also.

Bamboo continues to be an important part of Chinese culture. Because of this, Chinese bamboo paintings will continue to be popular for the foreseeable future.
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