Chinese characters for family and family members are extremely symbolic. Not only have some characters remained virtually unchanged through millennia, but the way they interrelate with each other clearly showcase the importance of Chinese family values.
This collection of the most popular Chinese symbols for family is ready to print and use in all kind of projects. If you need help, consult the Guide for Adobe Printables.
Symbols for Family
The character for family has been around for about 3,000 years almost unchanged. This symbol means both family and home. The three main ways to refer to one's family is family/home (jiā), persons in my family (jiā rén), and family/household (jiā tíng), the latter being the more formal.
Family / home
Family / family members
Family / household
Symbols for Parents
In Chinese, the symbol for parents is composed of the first two characters of mother and father. If you were to do this in English, the resulting word would be "fa-mo." Additionally, both father and mother have formal and informal forms of address. Sweetly enough, the formal terms literally mean dear mother and dear father, while the informal way sounds like a baby's first words. Take a look at the symbols and see if you can make out the man with hat in each character for dad, and the lady holding a baby in each character for mom.
Symbols for Siblings
Chinese characters for siblings can address siblings of both genders, only brothers or only sisters. You might find interesting to know that these terms encompass both older siblings and younger siblings.
Siblings both genders
(xiōng dì jiě mèi)
Siblings - only brothers
Siblings - only sisters
Symbols for Brothers and Sisters
In Chinese and other Asian cultures that have been influenced by Confucianism, it is of special importance to acknowledge seniority. Therefore, older and younger siblings each have their term of address, and age matters to the instant. So for twins, whoever is born first is the elder. Interestingly, this same philosophy encourages people to treat everyone as family, even strangers, so it is common for people of similar ages to call each other brother or sister.
Symbols for Grandparents
The Chinese characters for grandparents are almost the same as parents but with the inclusion of the character that signals they are before the parents, the ancestors. Each side of the family has its own terms of address, and while confusing at first, it helps give everyone their special place. Below are the most commonly used terms, although there are more formal ones too. Pay close attention to the similar strokes for the men and the shared strokes for the women. Can you see the hats for the men and the babies for the women?
(zǔ fù mǔ)
Symbols for Uncle and Aunt
There are quite a few terms to address aunts and uncles. They vary depending on which side of the family, whose brother or sister they are, and if they are older or younger than the person's parents. However, there are two all-purpose terms that can be used in general, not only for family members, but also for everyone else who is of an age similar to one's aunts and uncles, even total strangers!
Symbols for Spouses
The most popular Chinese word for spouse is beloved; it is composed by the characters for love and person. There are, of course, several terms of endearment and also formal terms for spouses to call each other and to be called by others, however these are the two most commonly used:
Symbols for Children
Children in Chinese is composed by two characters meaning child, however the second character also means son. So when referring to a son, the child character is preceded by another character meaning son. In the same manner when referring to a girl, the female character precedes the son character.
Son (ér zi)
Ideas and Projects With Chinese Family Symbols
Any and all of the images in this list can be clicked on to open a full resolution image of the symbol. You can print this image using the print command on your browser and use them for a variety of purposes.
A Meaningful Tattoo
Chinese symbols have long been used for tattoos. Getting a Chinese tattoo honoring your family or your favorite family member could be very special.
Embroidering a Bathrobe
Embroidering is a beautiful way to make any cloth item extra special. You can embroider these Chinese symbols as a type of monogram for each family member's bathrobe, towel, maybe their pillowcases, or even a handkerchief for the grandmas.
His and Her in Chinese
A cultural addition on a His and Her items set could be accomplished by using the husband and wife Chinese symbols. This would be particularly special for a newlywed couple with Chinese heritage.
Embossing a Frame
Using the rubber stamp embossing method, or any other you'd like, is an excellent way to personalize a picture frame with these symbols. If you are gifting this to a family member, use the Chinese characters that correspond to them, and a pretty picture of them, of course!
Family Portrait T-Shirts
Personalize T-shirts for the whole family and have a family portrait with each family member's Chinese symbol stamped or transferred in the front or back. It's fun and quite unique!
Make Your Own Chinese Style Painting
If you are into painting, you have surely seen those gorgeous Chinese paintings that include a couplet or verse. Make your own version to honor your family with the formal Chinese characters for family. You can trace them and paint them in black ink for an authentic look.
Chinese Family Symbols Are for Everyone
There is no need to have Asian heritage to enjoy the beauty and symbolism of Chinese writing. Some of these beautiful characters have been around for thousands of years and their intent to express graphically what they mean remains. Have fun printing some of these and incorporating them into a project close to your heart. After all, this is about family!