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Ma Jiashu 马家树 of the Beijing College for Nationalities painted this kite in the 1990s. It is on paper and measures 54 by 49 centimeters. Although birds and butterflies are the most common animals, depictions of almost every animal can be found. Those with symbolic lineage are more popular. The toad is a symbol of both longevity and wealth in China. One of the immortals of Daoism is Liu Hai. As an immortal, he was free from the prejudices of us mere mortals and thus, when he met a lonely toad he found him beautiful. They became constant companions. The toad had two loves, the first was water. If they passed by a well, the toad would jump in. To get the toad to come out of the well, Liu Hai would coax him with a gold coin, for that was the second love of the toad. Liu Hai always carries a string of gold coins to retrieve his toad. Thus, the toad is a symbol of gold and wealth - as is Liu Hai. It is easier to picture the toad.

Last update: June 2008
© Marilyn Shea, 2008