When you play online slots in the UK, or at many of the other offline and online casinos all around the world, you’ll have noticed that there are many exciting Asian-themed slots. These titles use a range of Asian symbols, but what do these popular slot game symbols signify outside of these games? We take a look at the most popular Asian symbols and what they mean.
The first popular Asian symbol in online casino gaming that we’re going to take a look at is the beckoning cat, also known as Maneki-Neko. Originating from Japan, the beckoning cat is associated with good luck. It is believed that the first beckoning cat lived in a temple and saved a man during a storm by gesturing to him and getting him to move away from a tree moments before it was struck by lightning. People often have statues of the beckoning cat in various businesses, such as pachinko parlours and shops. Some of these statues make use of mechanical systems that allow the raised paw to move, creating a beckoning motion to entice people into an establishment.
The Chinese coin, also known as cash or qian, is instantly recognisable by its circular shape with a square hole in the middle and Chinese writing around it. These coins were used from the 4th century BC until 1912, after which they were replaced by Yuan coins. Today these ancient coins are still produced, but they are purely symbolic, with many people believing they bring good luck. This is why you’ll often find them tied together, usually with a red string or ribbon which is also used to further enhance their capacity to bring good luck.
Dragons play a very different role in Asian cultures compared to the West. In the West, we mostly see dragons as powerful and dangerous forces of nature which often pose a threat to humanity. In the East, dragons are viewed as benevolent beings that symbolise power, good fortune and strength. This is why so many Asian cultures celebrate these mythical creatures.
The elephant also plays an important role in many Asian cultures, including in Buddhism, Hinduism and Feng Shui beliefs. In Buddhism, the elephant is representative of strength and resilience, in Hinduism they represent mental strength, peace and power, while in Feng Shui they are believed to represent good luck, power and wisdom. The importance of the elephant in the majority of Asian cultures is mainly due to the prevalence of Buddhism in the region.
Another important creature in Chinese beliefs is Fenghuang, or, as we may better know it in the West, the Phoenix. Originally this creature actually had two names, namely Feng, which was male, and Huang, which was female. As time passed, the names were combined and the creature also became a combination of both male and female characteristics. However, in Chinese mythology it is still sometimes portrayed as female and an empress, and is seen as the counterpart of the male Chinese dragon who is the emperor. Today, this creature represents spiritual balance, peace and prosperity.
Even people who aren’t from Asia will immediately recognise the iconic Koi fish. This large and mottled fish has become a very popular garden pond pet due to how easy they are to raise. Koi fish are known for their ability to adapt to different environments as well as being (relatively) strong and sturdy, making them very easy to look after.
However, in many Asian cultures, particularly China and Japan, they have a much greater importance than simply being a pet. In Japan, the koi is associated with samurai warriors since both are believed to embody incredible perseverance, while in China koi appear in many myths and in Feng Shui they are associated with good luck and prosperity.
Just like the beckoning cat, the money toad, also known as jin-chan, is another popular Feng Shui symbol. The legend of the money toad is that it was once the wife of one of the Eight Immortals who was punished for stealing one of the Peaches of Immortality by being transformed into this three-legged creature. Even as a toad, she could not give up her desire for wealth and continued to pursue it. Despite the myth apparently warning against greed, the money toad became a symbol of wealth and prosperity in Feng Shui, so people will often place money toad statues on pedestals near the entrance to their homes or in other important places associated with money, such as a work desk.
In the West, the lion is considered the king of the jungle, while in the East, this honour goes to the mighty tiger. In Chinese mythology, tigers were believed to live for hundreds of years and turned white if they lived for five centuries. In Chinese mythology, the tiger was seen as the counterpart of the dragon and the two were even connected to the Yin Yang (which we discuss in greater detail below) as opposing forces that brought balance to the world. Today, the tiger mostly represents power and bravery.
The Yin Yang is another Asian symbol that has made its way into popular culture in the West, appearing on clothing, jewellery, tattoos and popular media such as movies and video games. The symbol is meant to represent the idea of duality by showing how different forces or characteristics exist in one another and that they complement each other by doing so.
One of the ways that this can be interpreted is through opposing forces of masculine and female energy. Yin is viewed as femininity and Yang as masculinity, but while these two energies may exist almost in opposition to each other, there is still a small element of Yang in Yin and an element of Yin in Yang. In this way, forces that may seem very different to each other are considered to complement each other.
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