As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water, and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born in the world, raised in the world, having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world.

— Gautama Siddharta

Once in a while, saturated, creamy-white petals with dark pink tips rise out of the dark waters of a pond. Sometimes the sun illuminates their delicate veins nature through paper-thin skin,  their curved forms swayed by the wind or floating in the water. Even in death they are a spectacle as dry, alien forms. For me, catching their ephemeral nature at the peak of splendor is enough to feel satisfied, but many Chinese painters have applied their brushstrokes to the lotus, finding both aesthetic and symbolic meaning among its endless layers of petals. The lotus was a prominent figure in Hindu mythology, and Gautama used it to illustrate Buddhist teachings to his students, as it’s ability to rise out of muddy waters and remain pristine became an essential symbol for purity. Buddhism traveled from India to China, bringing with it the reverent qualities attributed to the lotus that later appeared in philosophy, art, and sculpture.

For more examples of the lotus in Chinese painting, please visit Chinese lotus paintings.

For a scholarly article on the lotus and its symbolism, please visit Lotus and its symbolism.

See more of my lotus images.

Lotus Rising from the Water. Song Dynasty • Lotus. Xu Gu