The Orchid 兰

The more I dabbled with Chinese ink and read about the history of the 4 gentlemen – 四君子, the more I am convinced that the ancient people have their wisdom and philosophy through use of painting and poetry. By looking at nature, they are able to draw principles for living!

Let me just introduce one of the gentleman today, the humble Orchid 兰。

The Orchid, being found in secluded places and has an understated appearance, signifies

  • purity
  • integrity,
  • being noble 
  • tenacity of character
    Its fragrance is never overpowering, symbolizing humility and nobility

    ‘芝蘭生於森林, 不為無人而不芳, 君子修道立德,不為窮困而改節”- Confucius

    “The orchids grow in the woods and they let out their fragrance even if there is no one around to appreciate it.
    Likewise, men of noble character will not let poverty deter their will to be guided by high principles and morals.

Other quotes by Confucius

與善人居, 如入芝蘭之室, 久而不聞其香, 即與之化矣. 與不善人居,如入鮑魚之肆, 久而不聞其臭, 亦與之化矣.”
“If you are in the company of good people, it is like entering a room full of orchids. After a while, you become soaked in the fragrance and you don’t even notice it. If you are in the company of bad people, it is like going into a room that smells of fish. After a while, you don’t notice the fishy smell as you have been immersed in it.”

Here is a famous piece by Zhang Da Qian (Reference:


and my own composition based on a favourite verse in the Bible. “你们这些小信的人哪!野地里的草今天还在,明天就被丢进火炉里,神尚且这样装扮它,更何况你们呢!” 

 “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” from Matt 6:30, a poignant reminder when I was stuck in a jam on a bus to meet my ex-principal in Hong Kong Singapore International school. When I looked down, I saw two little beautiful flowers blooming in a graveyard that was very much neglected and that was a poignant reminder to me during the early days of OURF when we first started that this journey though difficult will have its rewards if we just do like what the two little flowers do…bloom to their best for the passers-by!

The Orchid 兰

Posted by Pin Lay

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