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Chinese fu culture in Prince Kung's Palace

Updated: Jan 13, 2021

In the Chinese language, the word for bat is a homophone of the word for fu, meaning happiness and good luck. It is said that there are 10,000 Chinese fu characters in Prince Kung's Palace, 9,999 bat images on its buildings, and the most popular fu was written by Emperor Kangxi (r. 1662-1722), carved on a stele. 

Visitors can see the image of bats on colorful paintings, decorative patterns on the ceiling and wood carvings on window frames. In traditional Chinese culture, the bat has always been a symbol of blessings, longevity, auspiciousness and happiness as it is a homophone of fu. In auspicious patterns, bats are often depicted as lovely and charming creatures. Such patterns have been considered as the symbol of blessings and auspiciousness and are very popular among Chinese people.

The blessings and luck in Prince Kung's Palace Museum also come from the Chinese character fu on a stele, which was written by Emperor Kangxi and is known as the best fu in China.

This character, as drawn by the emperor, contains the patterns of several Chinese characters, which is different from the character commonly seen. 

At the upper right corner, there is the character duo (meaning many); below is the character tian (meaning land); on the left, there are zi (meaning descendants) and cai (talent); and on the right, there is shou (meaning longevity). 

Therefore, the character is considered as a symbol of descendants, talent, land, longevity and blessings. With great artistic value and important implications, this character is in a class by itself. The special writing of tian in the character also means endless auspiciousness, blessing and happiness. 

There is a building called Duofu Belvedere within the museum. When it was being repaired, some experts believed that the reason why it got the name was that its indoor wall was covered with the character fu. But later, the photos of Duofu Belvedere were found in the 1940 annual journal of Fu Jen University (then called the Women's College Library). 

From that source it has been shown that there was a door in the middle of the hall with plaques and couplets above and on both sides of the door, and more than 10 plaques with the character fu and shou hung on the wall; this was the name's source rather than the simple prevalence of the character fu all over the house.

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