Symbols of Patience Across Cultures

In today’s post, we will be discussing symbols of patience across cultures and how patience is represented by people from civilizations in all four corners of the world. Let us start with the Far East and Chinese culture.

Chinese Symbols For Patience

Ren Symbol

Ren 忍 is a symbol created by combining two characters in the Chinese language – Ren 刃 and Xin 心. The character Ren translates to the blade of the knife, and Xin means heart. When placed on top of each other, the symbol for Ren is created, which means to exercise patience, tolerance, restraint, and control in Chinese culture.

The symbol reflects the pain that comes with practicing patience as the symbolism of the blade and the heart depict it as a painful experience, but it encourages us to find the strength within ourselves to overcome adversity with patience to eventually end up on the path of success.

Plums As A Patience Symbol

The plum is a round pitted fruit with a smooth reddish-purple skin encapsulating a juicy yellow flesh. Plums have been found growing in China near the Yangtze River and became extremely popular during the Tang dynasty.

Subsequently, the fruit has also spread to other East Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. The five petals of plum blossoms have been known to represent the Five Blessings in China – old age, health, virtue, wealth, and natural death.

However, it is also associated with patience and tolerance as these plants are the first to bloom in winter frost as they can withstand the cold, and they signal the arrival of spring. These resilient fruits overcome cold temperatures and produce fruit when other plants await the arrival of winter.

Celtic Symbols For Patience

Heron Birds

The blue heron is associated with Celtic culture as it is a symbol of protection, persistence, peace, prosperity, and patience.

The bird is associated with different Celtic gods, including Rhiannon, who is also known as the queen of the fairies and the queen of transformation and water, which is why the bird was known as “the Lady of the Lake” by the Celts who believed the bird was a reincarnation of the goddess.

The bird is associated with patience as any transformation requires a lot of tolerance for change and the need to be persistent in the face of any hardships faced during the change. The heron is known for being patient because of its hunting methods, in which it waits calmly for its prey for hours to be close enough to pounce on.

By exercising patience, heron birds are able to wait for the right moment and opportunity to catch their prey, which is an amazing quality.


Ivy is an evergreen woody plant or vine that clings to surfaces such as bark to spread out and grow upwards. The plant is associated with patience, change, and determination.

Ivy Plants, Symbols of Patience
Ivy Plant Photographed by Roman Odintsov

In its initial stages, the plant grows quite slowly as it is adjusting to the soil and finding the right surface to climb on, after which it grows substantially and spreads out to cover the entire surface it is creeping on.

The spirals of the ivy are also associated with patience and survival, and they were even used by druids to create headpieces and necklaces to celebrate the resilience of nature.

The plant is also highly resilient as when its branches or leaves are damaged; the ivy keeps growing as it is quite hardy, which symbolizes how it takes a certain degree of patience to overcome any damage so one can continue to grow.

In that sense, you can think of ivies as symbols of strength and resilience as well. If you would like to read more on the symbols of strength, please kindly check out our article here.

Biblical Symbols for Patience – Christian Patience Symbols


The turtle is a symbol that represents patience and perseverance, as it can be observed with the ever-popular tale about the turtle and the hare, which talks about how continued efforts, patience, and determination can help one achieve their goals even if it feels like one is moving too slowly to show any solid results.

Turtles are also mentioned in the Bible, and they are considered a symbol of wisdom and patience due to the longevity of their lifespans, which allows them to exercise restraint and be calm while living an easy-going life, as they do not have many predators.

Japanese Symbols For Patience


Nintai 忍耐 is the kanji character for patience which is used commonly in Japanese culture. The symbol is made of two parts – Nin 忍 and Tai 耐. Nin itself is also made of two parts – the top being Yaiba, and the bottom being Kokoro.

Yaiba means sword, while Kokoro refers to a physical or spiritual heart. The combination of these words creates a meaning of endurance and patience as it is painful and agitating to be patient in certain situations where it feels as if someone has pierced a knife through one’s heart.

Tai also refers to endurance and resistance, which align with patience and perseverance, which are considered virtues in Japan as they lead to inner strength, eventually translating into wisdom and power.

Adinkra Symbols for Patience


Akoma is an Adinkra symbol of Ghanaian origin that is shaped like a heart and represents love, patience, tolerance, and peace. The symbol is commonly featured during wedding ceremonies in Ghana as it reflects the requirements of a successful marriage.

Akoma means ‘heart’ in Akan, and it is also used in phrases such as Nya Akoma, which means ‘take heart,’ and it is used to encourage people to be patient and considerate of everything that is happening in one’s surroundings which can create meaningful connections with other humans by taking the time to understand their perspectives, an act that requires a certain degree of patience.

Native American Symbol For Patience

The Native American patience symbol consists of a ‘V’ surrounded by the boundary of a circle, with the two diagonals of the V-shape extending beyond the circle.

The symbol dates back to 3000 BC, and it is found in Native American rock art as pictographs – paintings on rock and petroglyphs – images etched into the rock.

The symbols are used to represent human traits, and while the exact meaning of rock art symbols cannot be known, in modern times, the patience symbol is popularly known for signifying peace, patience, and perseverance.

This wraps up our detailed post on patience symbols throughout the world. If you liked it, you should definitely check out our posts on symbols of knowledge and wisdom here and symbols of freedom and independence here. See you in the next post!

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