Foretelling fortune through divination and astronomical observation has been important in China since ancient times, and some of the most important classical texts deal with this theme. Over five thousand years, the pursuit of fortune, which the Chinese believe stems from living a virtuous life, has made its mark on the culture and even the psychology of China. Pursuing fortune extends beyond purely mystical or spiritual activities into many facets of daily life, as people routinely say lucky words, use auspicious patterns, and carry out various rituals and behaviors.
Among the different ways to invoke fortune, the application of pictures and patterns with auspicious connotations is most common. Over centuries, a myriad of beautiful patterns and shapes have been created to help build an auspicious environment. Different symbols may express good wishes, invoke wealth or health, and eliminate evil or give warning. They appear at every stratum of society, as well as in every media. In fact, they are so prevalent that it can truly be said, "Every picture is sure to have an auspicious connotation."
People learn about China through a collection of symbols—Chinese painting, calligraphy, ceramics, to name but a few. This series of books aims to offer a general picture of Chinese culture, which is basic and brief but carefully selected and highly representative. They serve as a window on China for people around the world, helping them to learn about the country and to develop an interest in it.