The Black Tortoise is one of the five mythical creatures. It corresponds to the water element, the winter season, the direction north and the color black. Also referred to as the Dragon Tortoise or the Tortoise Snake, it symbolizes the ancient Chinese god of the North and a water deity. Because of its life length, the tortoise is also a symbol of health and longevity.
In this piece Black Tortoise is depicted couched within a sphere representing the universe, surrounded by crashing waves, creating a sense of dynamism and vitality. Purple is the color of the emperor and imperial family, as well as the color of the Emperor Star (Polaris) situated in the northern constellation. The deep purple hue of this piece imbues Black Tortoise with a sense of grace and noble mystery.
Associated with the four quadrants of the vault of heaven are the Azure Dragon of the East, the Vermillion Bird of the South, the White Tiger of the West, and the Black Tortoise of the North; in the center is the Qilin (unicorn). Each region corresponds to one of the five elements: metal (west), wood (east), water (north), fire (south), and earth (center). Moving across the night sky, the stars connect all life to the five elements. When the universe and elements are aligned, harmony ensues.