Chinese Symbols of Love — Beautiful Love, Pining, and Lost Love

In Chinese culture, there are lots of symbols that can represent love, mainly different Love Tokens, and in words. 

 

 

Chinese Symbols for Love:

 

  • Love: 爱

  • Adore: 爱慕

  • Affection: 爱情

  • Loved one: 爱人

  • Lovesickness: 相思

  • Mutual love: 相爱

  • True love: 真爱

  • Deep love: 深爱

  • Cherish and love: 珍爱

Chinese Phrases and Poems about Beautiful Love:

Fall in Love:

 

  • 一见钟情: Love at first sight.

  • 魂牵梦萦: Beloved one appears in one's head and dreams.  

  • 花好月圆: Blooming flowers and full moon, representing beautifulness and perfection. 

  • 情投意合: Mutual love, understanding, and congruence.

  • 柔情蜜意: Sweet affection and gentle love. 

  • 情有独钟: All attentions to the one and only love. 

  • 心心相印: Mutual affection and tacit understanding.

 
Silver Hairpin (Chai) of the Tang Dynasty — Shaanxi History Museum

Silver Hairpin (Chai) of the Tang Dynasty (618 — 907) — Shaanxi History Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)

Deeply in Love:

  • 一往情深: Irreversible deep love. 

  • 海枯石烂: (Love someone) until seas dry up and stones turn to dust, representing eternal love. 

  • 刻骨铭心: Engraved on bones and hearts, meaning deep and unforgettable. 

  • 如胶似漆: Inseparable like glue and paint.

  • 矢志不渝: Eternal, unchangeable love.

  • 佳偶天成: Perfect match like is arranged by divines.

  • 海誓山盟: Love vows are eternal as mountains and seas. 

Happily Married:

 

  • 珠联璧合: Gathering of pearls and jade, represents beautiful and happy couples.

  • 共度爱河: Live in the river of love, meaning the combination of a loving couple.

  • 天作之合: Perfect couple arranged by heaven.

  • 举案齐眉: Couple of mutual respect and love. ​

  • 同心同德: Alike heart, faith, and goal. 

  • 百年好合: Lifetime of conjugal felicity.

  • 凤凰于飞: Phoenixes flying in the sky, representing harmonious conjugal love.

Lifetime Together:

 

  • 琴瑟合鸣: Harmonious performing of musical instruments Qin and Se, representing happy and loving couples. 

  • 相濡以沫: Fishes moisturize each other using foam in dry environments, meaning helping each other in difficult situations.

  • 白头偕老: Live happily together until hair turned grey.

  • 比翼双飞: Love birds Biyi flying in the sky, representing blessed couple support each other in life and careers. 

  • 天长地久: Eternal as heaven and earth. 

  • 伉俪情深: A happy couple with deep love.

  • 长相厮守: Be in love and together forever. 

A Cute Dog (Yi Xiao Tu) that Xuande Emperor Zhu Zhanji Painted to Please Lady Sun

Painting "Yi Xiao Tu" by Xuande Emperor (1399 — 1435), to Please His Beloved Woman Lady Sun — Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

  • 死生契阔,与子成说。执子之手,与子偕老。The Classic of Poetry, or The Book of Songs, or Shijing, compiled by Confucius (551 BC  — 479 BC).

Life, death, or apart, as we vowed; we will hold hand, grow old till the end.

 

  • 既见君子,云胡不喜。The Classic of Poetry, or The Book of Songs, or Shijing, compiled by Confucius (551 BC  — 479 BC).

Now I see you, how can I not to joy. 

  • 长乐未央,长毋相忘。

 

Infinite happiness, unforgettable love.

 

Carved on belt hooks given from Liu Fei (168 BC — 128 BC) to his beloved woman, now preserved in Nanjing Museum. 

 

Liu Fei was a brave and accomplished king of the Han Dynasty, half brother of Emperor Wudi (156 BC — 87 BC).

The Silver Belt Hook Unearthed from Tomb of King Liu Fei — Nanjing Museum

The Silver Belt Hook Unearthed from Tomb of King Liu Fei — Nanjing Museum

  • 愿我如星君如月,夜夜流光相皎洁。Fan Chengda (1126 — 1193)

 

Wish I were the star and you were the moon, to shine bright lights at each other every night. ​

  • 只愿君心似我心,定不负相思意。Li Zhiyi (1048 — 1117)

 

I wish your heart would be like mine, then not in vain for you I pine. (Translated by Xu Yuanchong)​

  • 问世间,情是何物,直教生死相许。Yuan Haowen (1190 — 1257)

 

Ask the world, what is love, that vow to stay together through life and death.

Embraced Swan Geese Jade Pendant of Liao Dynasty (907 — 1125)

Embraced Swan Geese Jade Pendant of Liao Dynasty (907 — 1125) — Inner Mongolia Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology (Photo by Dongmaiying)

  • 愿得一心人,白头不相离。 Zhuo Wenjun of the Western Han Dynasty (202 BC — 8 AD)

 

Wish to have true love with a loyal heart, with hair turns grey we will never apart. 

  • 人生自是有情痴,此恨不关风与月。Ouyang Xiu  (1007 — 1072)

 

Life is born having love and pine, which has nothing to do with wind and moon. 

 

  • 两情若是久长时,又岂在朝朝暮暮。Qin Guan (1049 — 1100)

 

If mutual love is deep and eternal, no need to stick together all day forever.​

  • 愿有岁月可回首,且以深情共白头。Feng Tang

 

Wish we have sweet memories to look back, with grey hair yet still deeply in love. 

 

  • 身无彩凤双飞翼,心有灵犀一点通。Li Shangyin (about 813 — 858)

 

Have no wings to fly to you like the colorful phoenix, yet have a sensitive heart to understand your feelings like magic rhino horns.

In ancient Chinese legend, white stripes of rhino horn have the magic of tacit understanding or comprehension.

 

Chinese Phrases and Poems about Lovesick:

  • 刻骨相思: Deep lovesick that engraved in bone.

  • 拳拳在念: Sincere and constant missing.

  • 一日三秋: One day feels as long as three seasons if one cannot see the beloved person. 

  • 望穿秋水: Sincere longing for loved ones' return.

  • 念念不忘: Constantly think about someone or something.

  • 月明千里: The moon lightens on earth widely that even apart people could appreciate the same moonlight, which represents the deep missing about the loved one. 

  • 朝思暮想: Miss someone day and night.

  • 相见亦无事,别后常思君。Li E (1692 — 1752)

 

Nothing special to do or talk about, just miss you a lot when we apart. 

 

  • 相思相见知何日,此时此夜难为情。Li Bai (701 — 762)

 

Thinking of sweet memory wondering when can we meet again, right here right now the pining is hard to bear. 

  • 相恨不如潮有信,相思始觉海非深。Bai Juyi (772 — 846)

 

Hate you are not as credible and regular as the tide, miss you realized the sea is not that deep.​

 

  • 只缘感君一回顾,从此思君朝与暮。A folk song of the Han Dynasty (202 BC — 220 AD)

 

You glanced back, I pine day and night. 

Mandarin Duck (Love Bird Yuanyang) Decorated Gold Pendant of the Ming Dynasty (1368 — 1644)

Mandarin Duck (Love Bird Yuanyang) Decorated Gold Pendant of the Ming Dynasty (1368 — 1644) — Sichuan Provincial Cultural Relics and Archeology Research Institute (Photo by Dongmaiying)

  • 思君令人老,岁月忽已晚。Poem collections of the Han Dynasty (202 BC — 220 AD)

Missing you made me age, another year passed away.

  • 我有所念人,隔在远远乡。Bai Juyi (772 — 846)

I have someone in my heart, we are separate far apart.​

 

If don't believe my tears of pining for you, open my suitcases and let (tear stains of) the old dresses tell. 

  • 玲珑骰子安红豆,入骨相思知不知。Wen Tingyun  (about 812 — 866)

 

Red beans in the dice, is my deep longing like carved in bones.

  • 平生不会相思,才会相思,便害相思。Xu Zaisi (about 1280 — 1330)

 

In the past I didn't know about lovesick, the moment I understand, I suffer deeply without end. 

 

  • 一日不见,如三秋兮。The Classic of Poetry, or The Book of Songs, or Shijing, compiled by Confucius (551 BC  — 479 BC).

 

One day that I do not see you, feels as long as three seasons. 

 

  • 晓看天色暮看云,行也思君,坐也思君。Tang Yin  (1470 — 1524)

Seeing sky at dawn and clouds at dusk, I walk I miss you, I sit I miss you. 

Monkey Watching the Sea or Houzi Guanhai of Huangshan Mountain

Monkey Shaped Stone on Huangshan Mountain with A Legend of Pining for Love, Photo from Official Site of Huangshan.

  • 衣带渐宽终不悔,为伊消得人憔悴。Liu Yong  (about 984 — 1053)

 

Clothes and belts are loosening yet no regret, pining for you I became thin and pallid.

 

  • 生当复来归,死当长相思。Su Wu (140 BC — 60 BC)

 

Alive I will return to you, dead I will forever miss you.

 

  • 天涯地角有穷时,只有相思无尽处。Yan Shu  (991 — 1055)

 

Grand heaven and earth all have bound, yet only lovesickness has no end. 

 

Chinese Phrases and Poems about Lost Love:

 

  • 曲终人散: Music in performance ends and audiences would leave, meaning everything will come to an end.

  • 劳燕分飞: Lanius and swallow fly in different directions, representing separated couples.

  • 鸾凤分飞: Phoenixes fly in different directions, representing apart couples.

  • 一拍两散: Decisive and clean breakup.

  • 各奔东西: Step on different paths.

  • 人去楼空: People left and the building is empty, just as the feelings. 

  • 一刀两断: A determined breakup that clean as cut by a sharp knife.

  • 恩断义绝: Cut off all affections and love. 

  • 爱别离苦: The pain of losing loved ones.

  • 不欢而散: Unpleasant breakup.

  • 不辞而别: Left without saying goodbye.

  • 物是人非: Everything's the same but you.

Crystal Drum of the Ming Dynasty (1368 — 1644) — Zhongxiang Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)

  • 曾经沧海难为水,除却巫山不是云。Yuan Zhen (779 — 831)

 

No water is wide enough when you have crossed the sea; no cloud is beautiful but that which crowns the peak. (Translated by Xu Yuanchong)

 

  • 伤心桥下春波绿,曾是惊鸿照影来。 Lu You (1125 — 1210)

Water is still emerald and running under the bridge where I broke my heart, it was the place your beauty stole my heart.

  • 此情可待成追忆,只是当时已惘然。Li Shangyin (about 813 — 858)

 

Today I recall those emotions and moments long ago, because back then I felt cherished, confused, and lost. 

 

  • 一别两宽,各生欢喜。Divorce agreement of the Tang Dynasty (618 — 907), unearthed from Mogao Caves of  Dunhuang.

 

Apart and relieved, we shall be happy separately.

Panoramic of Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang

Panoramic of Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang

  • 山有木兮木有枝,心悦君兮君不知。Yuerenge a folk song of the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC — 403 BC)

Trees in mountain and branches in the tree, you in my heart yet you don't know.  

  • 人生若只如初见,何事秋风悲画扇。Nalan Xingde (1655 — 1685)

If everything was as beautiful as we first met, we would not feel apart sadness like an autumn fan.

Autumn fan symbolizes abandoned love, firstly used by Ban Jieyu (48 BC — 2 AD) after Emperor Liu Ao left her for Zhao Feiyan.  

  • 欲寄彩笺兼尺素,山长水阔知何处。Yan Shu (991 — 1055)

 

Wishing to send you a greeting letter, but of the grand mountains and rivers where are you.

Carved Lacquerware Writing Brush of the Ming Dynasty (1368 — 1644)

Carved Lacquerware Writing Brush of the Ming Dynasty (1368 — 1644) — Shanghai Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)

  • 此时相望不相闻,愿逐月华流照君。Zhang Ruoxu  (about 670 — 730)

 

Seeing the same moon but cannot hear you, wishing to follow the moonbeams and to shine on you. 

 

  • 在天愿作比翼鸟,在地愿为连理枝。天长地久有时尽,此恨绵绵无绝期。Bai Juyi  (772 — 846)

Up in the sky wish to be love birds (Biyi), down on ground wish to be twined branches; the heaven and earth might not last forever, the regret of our apart will never end. 

This poem was about the love story of Emperor Li Longji (685 — 762) and Lady Yang (719 — 756). 

Inscriptions on Mount Tai, Written by Emperor Xuanzong of Tang

Inscriptions on Mount Tai, Written by Emperor Li Longji to Memorize the Grand Fengshan Ceremony (the Gold Characters on the Right), Which held to Eulogize his Exceptional Accomplishments.