According to a Chinese legend, there are silver-colored bats that live for a thousand years in caverns in the high mountains feeding on stalactites. If you can find them and eat them you will live to a very ripe old age! It is a long-held belief amongst the older generation that any item decorated with the image of the red bat should be regarded with extreme favor, since it symbolizes prosperity, happiness, and longevity. The origin of this positive connotation comes from the sound of its name. In Chinese it is known as the pian fu and the word “fu” also sounds like happiness and good fortune. The bat is thus a very popular symbol that is frequently used for decorative purposes. When utilized to enhance Feng Shui, the bat is usually painted in a cinnabar red, because red is the color of joy.
Usually, red bats are drawn in a cluster of five — the pictorial representation of the five blessings from heaven: old age or longevity, wealth, health, love of virtue, and a natural death. Five red bats also represent the yang symbol of prosperity, and they are often found on ceramics and paintings. One of the more auspicious representations is of five bats emerging from a jar or vase. This means not only happiness and good fortune, but also a peaceful life with few problems.
The Chinese believe that if a family of bats take up residence in your home, it is an exceptionally good omen since they offer not only protection, but signify the coming of a time of prosperity and success for the household. Thus bats should never be chased away.