The pronunciation of dié (蝶) in butterfly, hú dié (蝴蝶), is the same with dié (耋) . mào (耄) means seventy years old, dié (耋) means eighty years old. mào dié (耄耋) means live a long life in ancient China. So butterfly has the auspicious meaning of longevity.


Butterfly (hú dié 蝴蝶) or group of butterflies means may you have an accumulation of blessings , fú dié (福疊). In some local dialects, hu is pronounced fu and is thus a pun for “blessings” (福). Dié (蝶) is a pun for “accumulation” or “layer by layer”( dié叠).


Butterflies (hú dié 蝴蝶) and peony (fù guì huā富貴花) means may you have an accumulation of blessings, wealth, and high social status (fú dié fù guì 福疊富貴). The embroidery is a detail from a pair of sleeves from a lady’s garment of the late nineteenth century.


Terese Tse Bartholomew, 中國吉祥圖案:Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art, pp. 32-33, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco