Chinese Fangsheng pattern

Chinese Fangsheng pattern

The Fangsheng pattern is a traditional Han Chinese motif with rich cultural symbolism. Fangsheng originally referred to an ornament worn by ancient women. It is characterized by the diamond-shaped patterns formed by black-brown and light-brown colors on both sides of the back of the Many-banded Krait (Bungarus multicinctus), where the apex of the "∧" shapes connect or slightly overlap at the midline of the back (spine). This is commonly known as the "Fangsheng pattern." The motif consists of two overlapping diamond shapes. In ancient Han Chinese mythology, Fangsheng was the hair accessory worn by "Xi Wangmu" (the Queen Mother of the West).


Origin and Meaning

The Fangsheng pattern can be traced back to ancient times. It was originally an ornament worn by "Xi Wangmu," a deity in ancient Han Chinese mythology, as described in classical texts like the "Classic of Mountains and Seas" (Shan Hai Jing). These texts describe Xi Wangmu's appearance, including her wearing Fangsheng. In the Han dynasty, Fangsheng became a popular ornament, made of gold, copper, or jade, worn on the head for adornment.


The Fangsheng pattern, deeply embedded in Han Chinese culture, originates from the mythological hair accessory of Xi Wangmu. Ancient texts such as the "Classic of Mountains and Seas" reference this adornment, highlighting Xi Wangmu's divine and majestic image, with the Fangsheng ornament symbolizing nobility and authority.


As time progressed, Fangsheng transitioned from myth to reality, becoming a fashionable accessory during the Han dynasty. Craftsmen meticulously crafted these ornaments from gold, copper, or jade, worn on the head for decoration. These ornaments were not only decorative but also symbolized status and identity, as only the noble were eligible to wear them.


In Han dynasty society, the popularity of Fangsheng was not merely a fashion trend but a cultural tradition. It embodied people's aspirations for a prosperous life, symbolizing good fortune, wealth, and happiness. People believed that wearing Fangsheng could bring luck and protection, making it a revered adornment.


Over time, the shapes and materials of Fangsheng evolved, but its auspicious meaning and cultural significance remained. The Fangsheng pattern, as an evolved form of Fangsheng ornaments, continued to celebrate this traditional cultural element. It is composed of two interlocking diamond shapes, representing intertwined loyalty and the ideal of unity and mutual support.



In the "Classic of Mountains and Seas": "The Jade Mountain is where Xi Wangmu resides. Xi Wangmu looks like a human, with a leopard's tail and tiger's teeth, and she can howl. She has disheveled hair and wears a Fangsheng headpiece, overseeing the forces of nature and calamities." In Sima Xiangru's "Rhapsody on the Great Man": "Lingering in the Yin Mountains, soaring and winding, I meet Xi Wangmu; with white hair and wearing a Fangsheng, she lives in a cave, fortunate to have a three-legged bird as her messenger." The image of the Fangsheng can be seen in excavated Han dynasty jade Fangsheng. In ancient times, it was considered an auspicious object. The "Book of Song" records a "golden Fangsheng," signifying national peace and submission of foreign tribes.


The Fangsheng pattern, a traditional Han Chinese motif, represents profound cultural connotations and symbolism. Its origin and meaning are deeply rooted in ancient mythology and social customs, illustrating the richness and continuity of Han Chinese culture.


Meaning and Symbolism

The Fangsheng pattern, a unique traditional Han Chinese motif, is intricately designed and carries profound cultural significance and symbolism. It consists of two overlapping diamond shapes, interwoven and tightly connected, resembling two hearts closely joined together. This pattern, also known as "Tongxin Fangsheng" (Heart-to-heart Fangsheng), not only showcases the exquisite craftsmanship of ancient artisans but also deeply reflects the core values of traditional Chinese culture.


The Fangsheng pattern symbolizes the loyalty and deep bonds between hearts, representing the purest and deepest emotional connections between people. In ancient society, people often used the Fangsheng pattern to express their deep feelings for friends and family, signifying that no matter what storms they faced, their hearts would remain closely linked, jointly confronting life's challenges.


Additionally, the Fangsheng pattern embodies the spirit of unity and cooperation. It symbolizes people working together towards common goals and ideals, united in heart and hand, creating a better future together. This spirit was especially important in ancient society, inspiring people to strive for the prosperity of their family and the nation.


Besides these meanings, the Fangsheng pattern is also considered a symbol of good fortune and wealth. It signifies "excellence" and "victory," conveying people's aspirations and pursuit of a better life. In ancient times, the Fangsheng pattern was commonly used to decorate homes and clothing, with the hope of bringing good luck and happiness.


Form and Structure

The Fangsheng pattern, a unique traditional Han Chinese motif, holds deep cultural significance and aesthetic value in both form and structure. It is composed of two identical geometric diamond shapes, overlapping at the corners. This clever combination makes the Fangsheng pattern resemble the ancient women's hair accessories, hence its name. As a significant head ornament for ancient women, these accessories not only served as decoration but also symbolized nobility and elegance. The Fangsheng pattern, inspired by these ornaments, presents this traditional cultural element in a new form through geometric transformation and reorganization.


Structurally, the Fangsheng pattern showcases rich variation and diversity. Besides the basic intersecting squares or diamonds, there are multiple ways to present the pattern. For instance, nested squares create a layered, dynamic visual effect, enhancing the pattern's vibrancy. Another common presentation is the misalignment of inner and outer squares, breaking traditional symmetry and creating a new, tension-filled beauty. These different combinations provide a stylized visual effect through the division of lines, allowing viewers to appreciate a unique rhythm and cadence.


Historical Evolution

The Fangsheng pattern, with its profound historical and cultural heritage, can trace its origins back to the Qin and Han periods. During that era, the Fangsheng pattern emerged as a unique decorative element, gradually becoming integrated into the cultural fabric of the Chinese nation through the ages.


By the Song dynasty, the application and recognition of the Fangsheng pattern had expanded further. People referred to the overlapping rings of hats as "Ershenghuan," "Shuangdesheng," "Shuangdiesheng," and other names, enriching the cultural connotation of the Fangsheng pattern and reflecting its widespread use and popularity in daily life. During this period, the Fangsheng pattern had evolved from a mere decorative motif to a symbol of good fortune and a beautiful life.


In the Ming and Qing dynasties, the use of the Fangsheng pattern reached its peak. It became one of the most common motifs in auspicious designs, widely applied in clothing, architecture, and crafts. On clothing, the Fangsheng pattern was skillfully integrated into collars, cuffs, and hems, adding unique charm to garments. In architecture, it adorned ancient eaves and windows, symbolizing good fortune. In crafts, artisans incorporated the Fangsheng pattern into various designs, using it as an important element to express best wishes.


Throughout history, the Fangsheng pattern, with its unique artistic appeal and profound cultural significance, has become a bridge connecting the past and the future. It not only carries people's aspirations for a better life but also remains an indispensable part of traditional Chinese culture. Today, the Fangsheng pattern continues to captivate people with its unique charm, serving as an important representative of traditional Chinese culture and continuing to convey auspicious and beautiful meanings.


Applications of the Fangsheng Pattern


The Fangsheng pattern, a traditional motif with profound historical and cultural heritage, boasts a wide range of applications and deep influence that are truly awe-inspiring.


In Fashion Design: The Fangsheng pattern, with its unique artistic charm and auspicious symbolism, has become synonymous with fashion. Designers skillfully incorporate the Fangsheng pattern into modern clothing. Whether on collars, cuffs, skirts, or pants, the elegant presence of the Fangsheng pattern can be seen. It not only adds a unique charm to garments but also allows wearers to experience the allure of traditional culture through fashion.


In Architecture: The Fangsheng pattern also showcases its distinctive decorative value in architecture. Ancient eaves and windows, adorned with the Fangsheng pattern, seem to be imbued with new life. These architectural elements, complemented by the Fangsheng pattern, create beautiful scenes, allowing people to appreciate the beauty of architecture while also feeling the deep cultural heritage.


In Craftsmanship: The Fangsheng pattern is an important element for artisans to express best wishes. Whether in ceramics, jade, embroidery, or paper cutting, the exquisite designs of the Fangsheng pattern can be seen. Artisans use clever techniques to perfectly combine the Fangsheng pattern with various materials, creating artworks full of artistic charm and auspicious symbolism.


In Decorative Motifs: The Fangsheng pattern is often found in the "Eight Treasures" motifs, combined with other auspicious patterns to form rich and colorful decorative designs. These motifs not only beautify people's living environments but also embody their aspirations and pursuit of a better life. Whether in wall hangings, screens, or hand-held jade and ceramic pieces, the perfect combination of the Fangsheng pattern with other auspicious motifs forms a unique landscape in traditional Chinese culture.





  1. "Absolutely Stunning! Traditional Fangsheng Pattern, Feel the Charm of Thousand-Year-Old Culture!" Cultural Knowledge, February 16, 2024.
  2. "Auspicious Patterns – Fangsheng Pattern," November 7, 2022.
Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

Featured collection