Among the common decorative patterns in Guandu, the most common are ‘patterns of good fortune’. For example, the four spirits in ‘animal patterns’ (dragon, phoenix, qilin, and turtle); four beasts (tiger, leopard, lion, elephant); ‘plant patterns’ include three friends of winter (pine, bamboo, and plum); four gentlemen (plum, orchid, bamboo, and chrysanthemum). Besides, there are patterns of nature such as the sun, the moon, mountain, river, wind, cloud, ice, water, rock, and giant wood. Geometric patterns include circle, square, rectangle, straight line, hexagon, and octagon while ‘patterns of words’ include ‘fu’ (blessings), ‘shou’ (longevity), ‘xi’ (double joy), ‘fo’ (Buddha), ‘wan’ (ten thousand), ‘ren’ (people), ‘ding’, ‘wan’, and ‘hui’. There are also patterns originated from legends of gods and historic figures. For example, He-He Er Shen (Hanshan and Shide), Three gods (Fu, Lu, Shou), Four Heavenly Kings (Feng Tiao Yu Shun; good climate), and Eight Immortals, etc. Finally, there are diverse ‘patterns of objects’ including ‘qi qiu ji qing’ (praying for good fortune) (flag, ball, halberd, and chime), eight treasures or eight objects of good fortune (rhino horn cup, banana leaves, ingots, books, paintings, money, ganoderma, beads; or triton, the wheel of law, treasure umbrella, white canopy, lotus, treasure vase, gold fish, and the endless knot (panchang).
Besides the image of decoration that shows specific meaning of good fortune, some needs to be in combination with other objects to present a complete idea. First, in terms of ‘pun’. For example, deer (lu; fortune), bat (fu; blessing), cat and butterfly (mao and die; longevity), goldfish (jin yu; gold and jade), catfish (nian nian you yu; prosperity through the years), carp (ji li; luck), flag, ball, halberd, and chime (qi qiu ji qing; praying for good fortune), lotus (purity), chrysanthemum (ji xian; good fortune), celosia cristata (forming a family in Taiwanese), osmanthus (timely help); rose (wealthy), vase (ping an; safe), butterfly (happiness), magpie (joy), bergamot (luck), etc.
Second, in terms of ‘transference’. For example, Mandarin ducks (love), turtle and crane (longevity), pine (longevity), bamboo (gentleman, chastity), and plum (fair lady), etc. Besides, it could be through extended meanings. For instance, pomegranates and grapes (many descendants and much fortune), rock and ganoderma (longevity), peach and evergreen (longevity), and peony (wealth), etc. Moreover, important allusions of decoration also include dragon, phoenix, qilin, and the Queen Mother of the West from mythologies; Yao, Shun, Yu, and He-He Er Shen from legends; and long novels in chapters, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Water Margin, and Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove, etc.
Besides through puns, the decoration is expressed through allegory, simile, metaphor, analogy, or combination of various patterns. Common allegories include Eight Immortals, signifying celebration of birthday; Heavenly Official symbolizes conferring of blessings. As to similes, the combination of peaches, pines, and cranes symbolizes longevity; painting of antique flowers connotes the meaning of blossoms in all seasons and being blessed for safety and wealth. Metaphors include shells of crabs to ‘passing the Imperial Examination in high scores’; goats signifying filial piety; the objects held by Eight Immortals imply blessings and celebration of birthday. As to analogies, banana leaves are analogous to Qing dynasty; pine and cypress in winter signify evergreen. Finally the decoration could be more organic “combination,” such as combination of celosia cristata and deer, meaning ‘being promoted’; combination of pine, bamboo, and plum symbolizes the Three Good Friends in Winter and harmonious union; roses and peonies or a phoenix playing with peonies signifying prosperity and wealth; magpie and plum are regarded as overwhelming joy; ganoderma, pine, and crane indicate longevity; the combination of bergamot, peach, and pomegranate signifies many descendants and much wealth.