Asian Themes For Garden Fountains

There are a number of recurring themes and symbols in Asian fountains. These decorative accent pieces draw influences from feng-shui theory and elegant Zen gardens. Having an understanding of six common symbols used in garden fountains will enable you to create a relaxing, pleasing environment.

Bamboo. Bamboo motifs can be reproduced in copper, wood, stone, resin, or ceramic and are a signature of Asian inspiration. Bamboo symbolizes resilience, integrity, wisdom and experience. Bamboo bends in a strong wind, but doesn’t break, and soon returns to its upright position. Likewise, flowing water bends and yields. Water is an important concept in feng-shui theory, it represents the positive flow of life energy. Bamboo and water have long been paired together.


Fish. Asian carp (also called Koi) are a very popular fountain symbol. Koi have many offspring and swim in pairs. Thus, they symbolize abundance and committed relationships. Chinese legend holds that carp swallow spoken messages to send to distant friends and lovers. The fish therefore also symbolize communication and emotional closeness, no matter the physical distance.

Dragons. Dragons are the most powerful symbol of good luck. Dragons stand for strength, authority and mysticism. They command clouds and storms, and they bring the rain. Hence, their association with flowing water and fountains. Asian dragons are benevolent creatures; although they are considered very powerful, they are associated with using power to be generous.

Flowers. Flowers cannot bloom without water. The lotus flower is represented commonly in Asian fountains. The lotus grows in watery areas. Its flower is a sign of mental clarity and enlightenment. The plum blossom represents nobility and endurance; it grows through the winter to reveal its flowers at the first sign of warmth. The peony symbolizes wealth and good fortune.

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Buddha. Water features that position a “wealth deity” at the top, such as a laughing Buddha, are considered to bring good luck and stability of wealth. The Buddha is also regarded as a promoter of health and happiness.

Tortoise. Considered to be protectors of good feng-shui energy. These reptiles have the ability to live more than one hundred years. In traditional Chinese medicine, the tortoise shell has been used as an ingredient in many healing remedies. Tortoises represent longevity, good health and stability.

Look for a fountain that displays the qualities you want to emphasize or cultivate in your environment. Even if the symbols depicted on the fountain aren’t exactly what you are looking for, you can use decorative pieces and plants to add the desired qualities to your fountain. Colorful pebbles, subtle lighting, or animal statues supplement your fountain’s design and add a sense of balance to your surroundings. Begin with the symbols that represent your values, then let your creativity take over.

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