Deer

CatholicSaints

Marysville, United States

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Artist's Description

The central dogma of Chinese symbolism is that If you are not sure what something symbolically means, a good guess is always that the creature symbolizes longevity.

The deer has phonetic meaning as well. The word for deer is lu, leading to the deer’s connotation with riches.

Along with riches, the deer has a strong connotation with status and position.

Another translation of the word lu is “official salary,” which also leads to this conclusion.
A painting can be found in the City God Temple in Shanghai, China of what appears to be a high ranking official holding a deer in his hand.

viewer can see that he is of a high standing based on the elaborate embroidery on his clothing and the hat that he wears.

In the Jataka Tales, ( a recollection of all of the Buddha’s past lives) used in Chinese and Indian cultures to teach respectable morals to children.

A story about deer is present.

The story, entitled the “Banyan Deer,” tells the story of a king and two herds of deer.

The king enjoyed eating deer meat and kept the two herds together in a park for easy hunting.

Each day he would travel to the park and kill one deer.

The two herds, the Banyan deer and Monkey deer, both had a king.

The wise kings of the two herds decided that they would alternate from which herd a deer died each day.

The system worked efficiently until a mother deer from the Monkey herd asked to be spared until her baby was old enough to survive on his own.

The Monkey king did not agree to her request.

The female deer decided to ask the the Banyan king, who agreed to take her place.

When the king of the land saw that the leader of the Banyan herd was sacrificing himself, he decided to stop the practice of hunting the deer.

The Banyan deer is a symbol of selflessness and courage.

Today deer are present at Buddhist temples across Asia.

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