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Orchid, Mirabelle Plum, Bamboo, Chrysanthemum
“The Four Gentlemen” in Chinese brush painting refer to four plants: orchid, plum, bamboo, and chrysanthemum. Those four plants have become the basis of Chinese art because of their beauty and meaning.
The orchids are highly valued for their delicate fragrance and always associated with elegance. The plum blossoms are cold-resistant flowers that bloom in the coldest time of the year. Delicate yet hardy and it serves as a metaphor for inner beauty and humble display under adverse conditions. The bamboo is tough and upright. It is the symbol of strength, both physical and mental, as it will bend and sway in the toughest of gales but does not break.
The chrysanthemum is beautiful and colorful, it often blooms in autumn when other flowers are fading away, which symbolizes the virtue to withstand all adversities.
In Chinese Art, the plum, the orchid, the bamboo and the chrysanthemum either appear individually or as a set. When they are displayed together, they symbolize the four seasons, the plum blossom for winter, the orchid for spring, the bamboo for summer and the chrysanthemum for autumn