The Tao yin-yang symbol is commonly seen all around the world, easily recognisable in its many forms. Lao Tzu is not so easily to recognised though. He's been dead a lot longer than Elvis too, so sightings are more rare and sketchy!
To demonstrate the penetration of the Tao and help you recognise Lao Tzu when you see him, here are a few sightings of both. Please send me any interesting images or stories you have of similar sightings. Click on any of these images to see larger versions. It is amazing, the variety of locations in which Lao Tzu or related symbols can be found. Sometimes in a picture of him will be hanging in a restaurant or bar. Book covers on a myriad on subjects might display his likeness. Lao Tzu and the connected images have travelled the world like this. You will spot them in places where you might not see the relevance or the context! Some tao-spotting photos are funny, and some just plain confusing. Lao Tzu works in mysterious ways. Happy spotting!
I spotted this Traditional Chinese style Lao Tzu at Shen Zhen railway station in South China. He is riding an ox out of town, leaving behind the official corruption of his previous government job and heading for a life of quiet anonymity.
Here's the South Korean flag. It features the yin-yang symbol plus a few of the I-Ching trigrams. The I-Ching is a very old Taoist text used for telling the future, but also as a source of information about life an the Tao. The current version of the Korean flag was standardised in 1948 based on designs dating back to 1882. It clearly demonstrates the Korean peoples' acceptance of the principles of harmony and of the idea of Tao generally.
Koreans often use blue (yin) and red (yang) rather than the more conventional black and white. Perhaps this is indicative of the vigorous national character of the Koreans. In any case, the use of the yin-yang symbol (taeguk in Korean, meaning great ultimate) dates back to the 7th century in Korea, so the Tao and the Koreans have a long connection.
Seen in Oz
Here's a Lao Tzu I spotted in a 'new age' shop in Melbourne, Australia. A lot more tasteful in the brown and a lot more realistic.
The shop at the North end of the Queen Victoria markets has a lot more detail on its items than most similar stores.
Tao & "Harmoney"
Here's a creative use of the Tao symbol from an expensive brand-name fashion shop in Las Vegas. I'll let you form your own opinion of the appropriateness of putting a religious symbol where people will walk on it and combining it with a dollar sign.
Then again, few people are travelling to Las Vegas in search of enlightenment. The lady at the shop was shocked when I asked "May I take a picture". She posed thinking I was going to photograph her, then was surprised when I aimed the camera to the floor.
If you have an interesting sighting with photographic evidence, send me a copy at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll try to post it here.
One viewer, David Dawson, went hiking through China and climbed a Taoist mountain, Mt Qiyun, and visited the temple and shrines. This picture I attached, from what a Chinese Taoist priest told him, is the original yin-yang symbol before it became what it is today.
Here's a photo of a wall in a church in Peru that Kelvin sent to me. Spooky isn't it? I wonder what it would fetch on e-bay?
Here are the rubbish bins from the Tai Ping Gong Taoist temple in Qingdao, China.
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