Blue & White Antique China Cup & Saucer, backstamped Orchid 752. Date: c.1840-c.1900
Plum blossom, orchid, bamboo, and chrysanthemum were adored by the ancient Chinese literati and artisans, and referred to as the “Four Noblemen.” This was because they were used to portray noble characteristics, such as pureness, humbleness, and uprightness.
In ancient China, people called a man of great virtue a gentleman. In the world of flowers, plum blossoms, orchids, bamboo and chrysanthemums are known as the four gentlemen in China because these plants’ natural character have something in common with human virtues. They have all long been featured in ancient paintings and poems used to express loftiness, righteousness, modesty and purity by Chinese literati.
Grown in deep mountain valleys, orchid is one of the top ten well-known flowers in China. With delicate fragrance refreshing people’s minds, and the elegant figures swaying slightly in the wind, orchids are equal to elegance in Chinese people’s eyes.