Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, September 22 – Today we went for a bike ride and saw these three different types of herons all in one area. In Chinese culture, herons symbolize strength, purity, patience, and longevity. In Chinese, lu (loo), the word for heron, sounds similar to the word lu used for ‘path’ or ‘way’ (same as street). In Chinese art and poetry, herons are often shown or written about together with a lotus flower. This is because the word for lotus is ‘lian’ and it sounds the same as the word for ‘successive.’ So … the phrase, lù lián sheng, is a wish for good fortune, a positive future, or success in what you are doing. In Chinese legend, white herons were responsible for taking the souls of departed people to heaven, so the white heron represented the path to heaven. The pictures, starting with the top left, are the Little Egret (egrets are a type of heron), top right is the Great Egret, lower right is the Chinese Pond Heron (in non-breeding plumage), and the lower left is a painting I saw last year displayed at a small art gallery at Shenzhen University. In the painting, you can see the lotus flowers behind the heron.