List of Good Luck Symbols
Though good luck is a universal concept, different cultures from all over the world have their own way of expressing it. In fact, in Korean culture there are 22 different symbols that represent good luck, typically taking on the form of animals—let’s break them down so you can understand what they are!
Haet’ae is the name of a mythological being that is said to have consumed fire. As a result, it protects people from fire to help promote good luck. Many people use depictions and sculptures of this creature around wooden buildings and other places that are susceptible to fire.
In Korean mythology, dragons were born due to a mating ritual that occurred between a phoenix and a crane, producing a beast that harnessed great amounts of power and mystique at the same time. As a result, dragons are believed to ward off evil spirits and are compared to royalty.
This mythological bird is supposedly built up of various parts of other animals, including parts of a snake, parts of a fish, and even parts of a swallow. A phoenix is meant to represent prosperity and good luck in the future for those who call upon its powers.
4. Four Guardians
Part of protecting one’s good luck in Korean culture is calling upon the four guardians, mythological creatures who were referenced in an ancient text. The 4 guardians are comprised of a tiger named Baek-ho, a bird named Ju-jak, a turtle named Hyeon-mu, and a dragon named Cheong-nyong. These animals all guard the various directions that are used in navigation.
This type of fish is believed to represent continual rebirth, allowing those who are protected by it to hold the key to their own future. This is because the carp lays thousands of eggs when reproducing, leading to its association with fertility and subsequently promise.
One of the most iconic sounds in nature, the cicadas are viewed as very contemplative insects. As a result of this, they’re regarded as promoting mindfulness and meditation, inducing states of patience through their calming sounds.
Butterflies are lauded for their beauty and flexibility that allows them to be some of the most envied and free insects in the animal kingdom. Because of their seemingly carefree appearance, they’ve come to represent fulfillment and loving independence.
8. Korean Magpie
The significance of Magpies comes from the belief that they focused on delivering good news, meaning that they only show up as a means of celebration. This translates to good luck and allows people to be protected by magpies.
This animal’s significance in Korean culture is actually a nod to Chinese culture, in which authorities would embroider pheasants on their clothing to emphasize their noble nature. Because of this, they’ve come to represent nobility.
Because of ducks being used primarily for decoration in female-oriented spaces, they’ve long been associated with fertility and happiness.
11. Wild Goose
In the wild, geese are typically incredibly loyal to each other, hence their association in Korean culture with matrimony and dedication. This connection also leads people to think of loyalty and good luck when they think of geese.
12. Mandarin Duck
In the wild, mandarin ducks never truly abandon or move on from a partner even after the partner is deceased, representing loyalty until the end of their lives. Because of this, mandarin ducks represent fidelity in Korean culture.
13. White Heron
Herons are incredibly graceful birds and have always been held in high regard by artists in particular. Their elegance has been well-documented in visual art and poetry, so it makes sense that they represent graciousness.
Another example that borrows from Chinese culture, the origin of peacocks symbolizing authority comes from the Chinese book of the yeokgyeong. In the book, peacocks have a reliable sense of control and command, leading them to be associated with commanding forces and confidence.
Roosters are animals that are known for sharing their resources and food with others, a sign of trust. Because of this, they’ve also come to be associated with intelligence because of their ability to ration their resources effectively.
16. Red-crested White Crane
Cranes have an incredibly holy context that makes them really well-regarded in terms of spiritual endeavors. This is because of their endurance that has allowed them to exist for a long time, helping them come to represent longevity in Korean culture.
Bats represent a number of different things in Korean culture, but the most common association is their deep connection to good fortune. This belief was reinforced by people who would embroider bats on many different pieces of furniture and clothing, making them one of the most direct symbols for good luck in Korean culture.
Cats have the benefit of being able to see in complete darkness, something that allows them to go on paths and see things that many humans cannot without the use of light. Because of this, cats are believed to be able to communicate with evil spirits that hide in the shadows, making them good for protecting oneself against evil spirits.
The name for monkey in Korean is very similar to the word for emperor (“i-hu” as opposed to “hu”), making the two words be associated with each other in terms of meaning as well. This is why monkeys have come to represent a renowned status in politics.
Deer are incredibly elegant animals that typically travel in packs, never being aggressive towards other beings. This is the reason as to why deer have come to be considered very peaceful, mindful, and friendly. In Korean culture, this means that they represent good faith and friendship.
Tigers are very intense and confident animals. To be a tiger requires a great deal of bravery and a dignified attitude, something that can also go hand-in-hand with selfishness. Regardless of the connotation, tigers have been viewed as incredible protectors for those who wish to avoid illness or poisoning.
Turtles live an incredibly long time when compared to most animals, making them a symbol of endurance and longevity in Korean culture. Because of this association with endurance, turtles are also believed to be able to bring good fortune to those who embrace them, bringing good luck for the future.