Valued in China before the coming of the Buddha, the lotus flower and leaf grow on pond water, like water lilies. Lotus flowers are typically red or white, and the lotus leaf is round in shape.
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The use of the lotus flower in Chinese culture and decoration predates China's Spring and Autumn period, which lasted from the eighth to fifth centuries B.C. Lotus flowers and their leaves have appeared in Chinese artwork ever since, including artwork of the Qing and Ming Dynasty as well as more modern pieces, like "Colorful Lotus" by Zhang Daqian.
Religion and Culture
In Chinese Buddhism, the entire lotus, including the flower, leaves and roots, represents purity. The lotus is also a symbol of abundance and fertility in China. People purchase pictures of dancing babies holding lotus leaves and flowers as part of a Chinese folk custom to wish the birth of several boys in succession to a mother.
Certain types of lotus leaves are steamed and used to wrap rice and other items, like chicken, in some Chinese recipes. You can purchase the correct type of dried lotus leaf for Chinese dishes from most Asian markets.
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