V.I.P Jiu 8 creator Irving Graham tells us in his own words the story behind the brand’s striking insignia.
“For over twenty years I have searched the world for lost, undiscovered and looted Chinese works of art to repatriate back to China. My passion for studying Chinese history and culture has never waned and I am well acquainted with the broad use of symbolism and their meanings in Chinese art.
The V.I.P. Jiu 8 recipe consists of nine ingredients personally selected by the Kangxi Emperor himself. The acronym V.I.P was incorporated into the brand name to reflect the fact there was literally nobody more important than the Kangxi emperor at the time of his reign. And what better symbol to use than a coat of arms featuring Chinese colours and symbolism to underline his status!
The word Jiu simply means liquor in Chinese. I incorporated the number 8 into the brand name because the Kangxi wine cup in which I discovered the handwritten recipe was originally sold as lot number 128 and eventually went on to sell for £28,000. The number 8 also presented itself many times during the revival of V.I.P Jiu 8. (read the full story here).
The Dragon (龙)
The dragon represents the height of power and auspiciousness. Emblematic of male prowess, strength and divine rule, the dragon symbolises the Emperor of China and is ranked first among mythical beasts.
The link between dragons and Chinese emperors can be traced back to the legends of early China. One of these tells of the first emperor of China, known as the Yellow Emperor (Huangdi) who ruled between 2697–2597 BC. It is said that upon his death he was transformed into a dragon and ascended to heaven. This and other legends contributed to the adoption of the dragon as the symbol of imperial power – a symbol that spread to other parts of Asia. The dragon is known as one of the four celestial animals that constitute the four cardinal directions – with the dragon representing East.
In China the dragon is regarded as a beneficent creature. It is associated with water and was believed to rise from beneath the waves each spring equinox to bring rain to the crops and ensure a bountiful harvest”.
The Phoenix or Fenghuang (凤凰)
“I have used the phoenix (Chinese = feng huang) in the brand design to represent China’s recent reinvention, growth and modernisation. In the West the phoenix is a symbol of life and rebirth. The original Chinese name of the phoenix – feng huang – incorporates the feng (a male bird) and huang (a female bird). This means the bird is a symbol of the union between femininity and masculinity, or yin and yang.
The feng huang is an extremely kind creature, which is why legends of the phoenix do not contain any elements of vengeance. The bird simply shuns those who fail to meet its high moral standards. It also symbolises justice and graciousness, and does not tolerate lies or the abuse of power”.
The Bat (蝙蝠)
“The bat is a symbol of happiness and joy. The word ‘bat’ (fu – Chinese) sounds identical to the word for ‘luck’ (fu – Chinese). Because of this the bat is commonly associated with good fortune in Chinese culture.
I hope this explanation clarifies the use of the various symbolic elements in the V.I.P Jiu 8 design”.