Have you ever seen a brass horse figurine with a monkey or a fly on its back when you are in a Chinese Feng Shui store? What is it “good for”?

This “auspicious symbol” is based on the pronunciation of “on the horse” in Chinese– “mǎ shàng 馬上”. It sounds like “immediately” in Chinese sound.

Monkey is hóu, same pronunciation as 候 hòu, as in “high officials or nobility”. So “Monkey on horse” will literally sounds like “Becoming a high offical/ nobility immediately” or speedy advance in career.

Fly is cāng-ying 蒼蠅. Cāng also sounds like cāng 倉 as in warehouse. Ying also sounds like ying 盈 as in surplus. So “fly on a horse” will sound like “Immediate surplus in the warehouse”.

Based on the association with the pronunciation of auspicious word, “monkey-on-a-horse” or “fly-on-a-horse” becomes auspicious symbol to promote career or business success. Many Chinese auspicious symbols are based on this principle. For example, bat sounds like “blessing” and so bats are considered auspicious by the Chinese.

This “on-the-horse”  or “immediately …..”  gig provides pretty good business for brass figurine manufacturers and Feng Shui marketers.

Make sure you don’t put a fan on a horse-back and give it to your Chinese pal as a gift– it becomes “wind-on-the-horse”– meaning getting a stroke while having sex.

Ken Lai

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