Cymbidium species/ hybrids;








Flora Picture of the Year 2011: Dr Pankaj Kumar: In Buddhism and many other religion including Hinduism there are supposed to be Four Heavenly Kings in the sky (Chinese – Sì Da Tiānwáng), often called as the four Guardians of the world. In Sanskrit they are called, Vaiśravaṇa (Kubera, He who hears everything), Virūḍhaka (Patron of Growth), Dhṛtarāṣṭra (Watcher of the Lands) and Virūpākṣa (He who sees all). They are followed by Yakṣas, Kumbhāṇḍas, Gandharvas and Nāgas respectively. In different countries they have been depicted differently in particular colours and with particular thing or objects in their hand. In general world they can
be depicted as North, South, East and West respectively.

The person in the shared picture here depicts the third Guardian or the King of Skies, Dhṛtarāṣṭra, i.e., East and followed by Gandharvas according to Buddhist and Hindu mythology. In China he is called, Chí Guó Tiānwáng [持國天王]. He is known to carry a musical instrument, usually a flute or a pipa (a Chinese musical instrument).

This is the Flora picture of the Year 2011 for me. To know why, please check the PIPA! That’s an Orchid, Cymbidium sp.

The picture was taken at just over 100 years old, Po Lin Buddhist monastery, on Ngong Ping Plateau, Lantau Island, Hong Kong.

Wow…what a keen observation!
Thanks for sharing this wonderful information Pankaj. Liked it!
But did u check whether Cymbidium is uniformly depicted in all the idols of Dhritrastra? Or the plant varies according to the imagination of the artist?

Its not a compulsion. I saw illustrations of Paphiopedilums in their sketches in the monastry, but they didnt allow me to take picture :(.
Sometimes, the Pipa is depicted without any illustration on the body.
But for sure Cymbidiums are one of the frequently used plant in the illustrations. They are also considered medicinal I assume. If you type, “chinese orchid illustrations” maximum of them are Cymbidiums.

I asked one of my friends here, he told me something instantly which I also found on Wiki.
First thing he said is, rich and educated people in China praise Cymbidiums and three more flowers, Plum, Chrysanthemum and Bamboo. But their style of painting is not very accurate, rather romantic, so from
the painting you can make out that it is a Cymbidium but you cant make out which species of Cymbidium.
Its interesting.
Wikipedia says, “In Chinese culture, the bamboo, plum blossom, orchid, and chrysanthemum (often known as méi lán zhú jú 梅兰竹菊) are collectively referred to as the Four Gentlemen. These four plants also represent the four seasons and, in Confucian ideology, four aspects of the junzi (“prince” or “noble one”).”

Very interesting … The object you had photographed is a very familiar, but I have never paid attention the PIPA and the orchid picture it in. It really takes a true orchidologist to identify an orchid even in a painting. And I guess your research now spreads into Chinese philosophy and culture.

Thanks a lot … and … … this is a huge structure just inside the entrance in the Monastry, one on each side. The other structure on other side is of Virūḍhaka, second king (South) with a sword.
Thanks for appreciation. Mythology always interests me 🙂


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