What Do Tiger Mean In China?

What Do Tiger Mean In China?

The tiger holds a rich and profound significance in Chinese culture, embodying people's aspirations and imaginations regarding power, independence, bravery, and mystery. Symbolically, the tiger represents courage, strength, and independence. In traditional Chinese culture, the tiger symbolizes an indomitable spirit, an unwavering determination to forge ahead. In ancient warfare, the tiger's strength and ferocity were used to inspire soldiers to bravely confront enemies and strive for victory. Thus, the tiger has become a symbol within the military, representing formidable combat prowess and fearless courage.


are there tigers in china

Yes, China is home to tigers. Among the most diverse countries in terms of tiger species, China currently hosts three types of tigers: the Siberian tiger, South China tiger, and Bengal tiger.


The Siberian tiger is representative of China's tiger species, primarily inhabiting forests, mountains, and marshy regions in the northeast. Being one of the largest tiger subspecies globally, the Siberian tiger boasts a robust physique, vibrant fur, and a strong territorial instinct coupled with excellent hunting abilities. However, due to excessive human hunting and habitat destruction, the Siberian tiger population has significantly declined, now classified as an endangered species. To protect the Siberian tiger, the Chinese government has implemented various measures, including establishing nature reserves and reinforcing wildlife protection laws and regulations.


The South China tiger, a unique tiger subspecies native to China, historically thrived in the mountainous, hilly, and marshy areas of southern China. Unfortunately, excessive human hunting and habitat loss have drastically reduced the South China tiger population, placing it on the brink of extinction. To rescue this subspecies, the Chinese government has implemented measures such as creating nature reserves and undertaking wildlife rescue and breeding efforts. While progress has been made in China's South China tiger conservation efforts, further endeavors are necessary.


The Bengal tiger mainly resides in the border regions of Tibet, Yunnan, Sichuan, among others, with a relatively sparse population. This tiger subspecies holds distinct features in its fur color compared to other tigers and exhibits high adaptability. Protecting the Bengal tiger faces considerable challenges due to the unique geographical and societal conditions in border areas. The Chinese government is collaborating with neighboring countries to advance Bengal tiger conservation efforts.


It's crucial to note that tigers, as apex predators in ecosystems, directly reflect the health of the environment. Therefore, safeguarding tigers and their habitats holds paramount significance in maintaining ecological balance and biodiversity. Strengthening wildlife conservation management is an integral component of sustainable human society. The Chinese government is committed to taking robust measures to protect endangered species like tigers, fostering harmonious coexistence between humans and nature.


how many tigers in china

According to the preliminary investigation report released by the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation, there are approximately 7,116 tigers within China's borders, encompassing four subspecies: the Siberian tiger, Bengal tiger, South China tiger, and Indochinese tiger. Among these, 2,715 are located in zoos, 3,744 in specific breeding facilities such as the Northeast Tiger Park, Changchun Northeast Tiger Garden, and Xiong Hu Shan Zhuang, 584 are found in 34 circuses holding artificial tiger breeding licenses in Anhui's Suzhou, and approximately 55 wild Siberian tigers are situated in the Northeast Tiger and Leopard National Park, with 14-20 Indochinese tigers in the wild in Yunnan.


These statistics indicate that while China hosts a considerable number of tigers, the vast majority are confined to environments like zoos, breeding centers, and circuses, with only about 1% living in the wild. Hence, there is a pressing need to enhance wildlife protection and environmental conservation efforts to ensure the survival environment and ecological balance for these tigers.


what type of tigers live in china

In China, there are four species of tigers: the Siberian tiger, Bengal tiger, South China tiger, and Indochinese tiger.


Siberian Tiger: Mainly inhabits forests, mountains, and marshlands in the northeastern region.

Bengal Tiger: Primarily found in border areas of Tibet, Yunnan, and Sichuan, with a relatively scarce population.

South China Tiger: A unique subspecies native to China, formerly widespread in mountainous, hilly, and marshy regions in southern China, now critically endangered due to excessive hunting and habitat destruction.

Indochinese Tiger: Located in the wild in Yunnan with a relatively small population.


Additionally, in 2004, the Malayan tiger was classified as a distinct subspecies from the Indochinese tiger, representing a new subspecies of tiger.


tiger in china history

Tigers have held significant historical importance in China. In ancient times, they symbolized bravery, strength, independence, and an indomitable spirit. Tigers were seen as representations of perseverance and fearlessness, serving as symbols for military forces. Their strength and ferocity were used to inspire soldiers during wars, encouraging them to fight bravely for victory. Consequently, tigers became one of the emblems of military might and unwavering courage.


Moreover, tigers were regarded as mystical symbols, among the totems of ancient China. Their elusive nature, difficult to track or capture, contributed to their mystical reputation. In traditional Chinese culture, tigers were often symbolic of divine and mysterious entities such as gods or immortals, evoking awe and reverence. In ancient times, the reverence and worship of tigers sometimes even surpassed that of the dragon, a revered mythological creature.


In modern society, the symbolic significance of tigers has evolved. With increased environmental awareness, tigers have become symbols of ecological conservation. Additionally, as tiger populations dwindle, they represent endangered species, advocating for attention toward ecological and animal conservation efforts.


tiger in chinese mythology

In Chinese mythology, the tiger symbolizes bravery, strength, and independence. These depictions are found not only in ancient texts but also in folklore and mythical stories. Here are some stories and legends about tigers in Chinese mythology:


Tigers Symbolizing Bravery and Strength:

Ancient texts, including the "Classic of Mountains and Seas," portray tigers as powerful and courageous animals. For instance, the "White Tiger" is considered a symbol of war and independence. In ancient wars, the tiger's image was used to uplift soldiers' morale and inspire them to fight valiantly.


Tigers in Taoism and Buddhism:

Tigers also hold significance in Taoism and Buddhism. In Taoism, the tiger symbolizes the "action through inaction" spirit pursued by Taoists, emphasizing harmony with nature. In Buddhism, tigers are often used as metaphors for the immense power and fearlessness of Buddha's teachings.


Relationships with Dragon and Phoenix:

In traditional Chinese culture, the dragon, phoenix, and tiger constitute the three major mythical creatures, each representing distinct meanings. The dragon symbolizes imperial and divine power, the phoenix signifies peace and beauty, while the tiger embodies bravery and strength, collectively forming symbols of Chinese culture.


Folklore and Mythical Stories:

Tigers play significant roles in folktales and mythological stories. For instance, in "Water Margin," the story of Wu Song slaying a tiger bare-handed at Jingyang Ridge showcases human courage and strength. There are numerous folk stories like "Grandma Tiger" and "Nine-Colored Deer" illustrating the intricate relationship between humans and tigers.


Tigers Symbolizing Perseverance and Indomitability:

In ancient times, the tiger's strength and might inspired soldiers to bravely confront enemies for victory, making tigers a symbol of formidable combat strength and unwavering courage in the military. This symbolism persists today as a national spirit and cultural symbol.


Comparison with Western Mythology:

While there are similarities in the portrayal of tigers between Chinese and Western mythology, their cultural connotations and symbolic meanings differ. In Western mythology, tigers are often depicted as symbols of malevolence and cruelty, whereas in Chinese mythology, they are associated more with bravery, strength, and independence.

In summary, the tiger holds a significant place in Chinese mythology, described not only in ancient texts but also prevalent in folklore and legends. It represents bravery, strength, and independence, inspiring people to bravely face challenges and pursue freedom and independence. Tigers also reflect the relationship between humans and nature, advocating respect for nature and the preservation of ecological balance. Despite their declining numbers in modern times, tigers' cultural significance in Chinese culture remains unwavering. Protecting tigers and other endangered species enables the inheritance of their cultural essence and spiritual values, fostering sustainable societal development.



tiger in chinese zodiac

In traditional Chinese folklore, the tiger symbolizes bravery, strength, and independence. In Chinese culture, the tiger holds the third position among the twelve zodiac animals, following the rat and the ox. It represents a spirit of moving forward courageously and persevering. Additionally, within China's twelve zodiac signs, the tiger embodies bravery, strength, and independence.


what does a tiger symbolize in china

The symbolic significance of the tiger in Chinese culture is complex and multidimensional, encompassing ancient totem worship, folklore, literary creations, and connecting closely to modern concerns about ecological conservation and animal welfare. Here is a comprehensive analysis of the symbolic meanings of the tiger in Chinese culture:


Bravery, Strength, and Independence:

In traditional Chinese culture, the tiger symbolizes bravery, strength, and independence. This symbolism stems from the tiger's powerful natural attributes and unique way of life. As a top predator, the tiger displays unparalleled survival capabilities through its strength and agility, embodying independence, strength, and autonomy. In ancient China, people often used the tiger as a metaphor for courageous warriors and heroes, evident in idiomatic expressions like "brave as a tiger" or "tiger-like strides," reflecting the tiger's representation of courage and strength.


Unyielding Spirit:

The tiger also symbolizes an unyielding spirit and the determination to move forward. Chinese literary works depict numerous stories and legends portraying the tiger's fearlessness and determination in the face of adversity, like the tale of Wu Song from "Water Margin," showcasing human bravery and strength when confronting a formidable tiger. This spirit inspires people not to retreat when faced with challenges but to persevere, actively pursuing their ideals and goals.


Mystical, Supernatural Power:

In Chinese traditional culture, the tiger is regarded as a mystical and supernatural animal. In various folk tales and myths, the tiger is often associated with divine beings, immortals, and mystical entities, imbued with extraordinary powers and abilities. This mystical aura surrounds the tiger, and in Taoist symbols and folk beliefs, specific parts of the tiger like its skin or bones are believed to possess special properties, capable of warding off evil spirits and ensuring safety.


Ecological Conservation and Animal Ethics:

With the increasing modern emphasis on environmental concerns, the tiger has become a symbol of ecological conservation and animal ethics. Due to overhunting and habitat destruction, tiger populations have drastically decreased, with many subspecies facing extinction. This endangered status has sparked attention toward ecological conservation and animal welfare. In China, the government and NGOs actively advocate for wildlife protection laws, reinforce natural reserves, and restore ecological environments. Simultaneously, a growing number of people advocate for animal ethics and ecological morality, urging respect for animal life and the maintenance of ecological balance.


Cultural Symbol and Artistic Inspiration:

The tiger serves as a significant cultural symbol and inspiration in Chinese literature, paintings, and various art forms. Ancient poets often expressed emotions and ideas through tiger depictions, such as Du Fu's poem "Tiger Moving," using the tiger as a metaphor for powerful strength and unwavering spirit. In painting, the tiger is a common subject, inspiring artists with its unique image and temperament. Furthermore, in contemporary culture, the tiger has become a crucial element in pop culture, appearing in movies, TV shows, games, and other entertainment forms.


what does tiger mean in feng shui

The symbolism of the tiger in Feng Shui is as follows:


The tiger is a fierce animal, known for its immense strength and intimidation. Therefore, in some traditional beliefs, the tiger is considered to ward off evil and ensure safety. For instance, in Chinese culture, items like tiger skins and bones are believed to possess the power to repel evil spirits and safeguard homes.


In certain Feng Shui practices, the tiger is also regarded as a symbol of wealth. People believe that the tiger can bring fortune and good luck. Displaying tiger sculptures or paintings in shops or households is believed to attract wealth.


However, it's essential to note that these beliefs lack scientific evidence or validation. In modern society, it's crucial to view traditional cultural elements through a scientific lens, avoiding excessive superstition or blind devotion. Simultaneously, respecting natural laws and ecological balance is essential. Protecting wildlife and the environment contributes positively to fostering a harmonious, stable, and prosperous society.


Tigers in Chinese Painting

The application of tigers in Chinese paintings is diverse, and their portrayal and significance vary based on the artwork's theme and style. Here are some common applications:


Landscape painting: Tigers are often depicted within mountains and forests, showcasing their majestic and powerful presence. This portrayal aims to illustrate the harmonious coexistence between tigers and their natural habitat.


Figure painting: Tigers are used as backgrounds or settings in figure paintings to enhance liveliness and storytelling. For instance, in scenes depicting hunters or warriors, artists might include tigers to emphasize the characters' bravery and strength.


Animal painting: Tigers serve as a significant subject in animal paintings. Artists use intricate brushstrokes to depict the tiger's muscles, fur, and demeanor, showcasing its unique elegance and power.


Flower-and-bird painting: While these paintings primarily focus on flowers and birds, they occasionally include other animals like tigers. In such artworks, tigers might be combined with elements like flowers and birds to emphasize their close connection to nature.


Gongbi painting: Gongbi is a traditional Chinese painting technique emphasizing detailed lines. In Gongbi painting, tigers are depicted meticulously, with clear details of their fur, showcasing their dignity and nobility.


Xieyi painting: Xieyi painting emphasizes expressive brushwork and mood. In Xieyi painting, tigers might appear more abstract but still convey their traits of courage and strength.


Folk art: The image of tigers is also widely used in some traditional Chinese folk paintings, often embodying people's aspirations for a happy life.



In conclusion, the significance of the tiger in Chinese culture is profound and diverse. By delving deeper into and preserving the cultural essence and spiritual values embodied by the tiger, we can better promote the cultural traditions and spirit of the Chinese nation. Simultaneously, this effort can drive sustainable societal development and environmental conservation. Let us strive together to contribute to the preservation and development of the cultural essence and spiritual values associated with the tiger!










Back to blog

Leave a comment

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

Featured collection