The middle finger is the longest digit of the human hand. In many western cultures like the US and Canada, using a middle finger is obscene. Some use the middle finger as a form of greeting and to be playful. Some Asian countries like Japan view the middle finger differently as an older brother. In China, extending your middle finger is a rude gesture similar to other western countries. It is done by showing the back of your hand with the middle finger extended upwards. Chinese see it as a sign of disrespect and boredom. It is not acceptable to them to point using one finger as the they use it to point at animals. It is more appropriate if you use all your fingers.
In some other context, middle finger is not rude. For instance, they use middle finger in meditation and medicine, especially on their older generations. However, since the middle finger is widely known as an insult, it is still best to limit your hand gestures when speaking with them.
Chinese Middle Finger Meaning and Significance
The middle finger is not exclusive to hand gestures in China, Middle finger has a lot of meaning, and significance depends on its use. Here are some of Chinese middle finger meaning and relevance:
- Middle finger as a gesture
Chinese middle finger gesture sometimes is rude depending on the intent of the person. For instance, showing your middle finger to insult other or pointing at the person. Chinese only use finger to point at animals, thus pointing at them may perceived rude and a sign of distaste.
- Middle finger in religion
Contrary to its usual sense, religions like Taoism meant it to be essential sources of magical powers. Some Chinese use in meditating or transferring your energy and intentions.
- Middle finger in the five elements theory
Shaman Kings in China viewed the human hand as the most poignant example of the five fundamental elements. Each finger represents an element. The thumb symbolizes Earth, the index finger is Metal, the middle finger is Fire, the ring finger is Wood, and the little finger is Water. These elements are believed to be interconnected to balance the forces of nature. In Chinese Philosophy (Wuxing), the middle finger or Fire element means prosperity of the matter.
- Middle finger in Chinese medicine
In traditional Chinese medicine, the middle finger represents the body’s head, neck, and trunk. Thin needles are inserted into these pressure points to preserve the flow of energy (Qi).
Is the Chinese Middle Finger Offensive?
The usual meaning of the middle finger is offensive as it may mean contempt or disrespect. However, sometimes it isn’t the case, and it doesn’t necessarily mean being rude. Some people use it as a greeting to say hi or to be playful. In some context, it is associated with the Fire element and used for sorcery. Some people use it as a sign of meditation or to connect with nature. In short, the meaning of the middle finger depends on your purpose, like trying to be funny or rude.
Which finger is Rude in China?
Hand gestures are essential in nonverbal communication. They differ from one country to another depending on their cultural context. In China, there are few gestures that you should not do to avoid confusion or offending its locals, these are:
- The Fig sign
Like the western middle finger, a thumb placed between the index and middle fingers is obscene.
- Pinky finger
Giving a pinky finger in China is a light form of dislike of a person or what they have said.
- Pointing with an index finger
Chinese pointing with one finger is rude as they use fingers to point at animals. The acceptable way is using all fingers to point to a person.
Chinese Middle Finger use for Meditation
Lifting your middle finger is the most obscene gesture in Western culture, but it does not hold the same meaning for some Chinese elderly. Some use the middle finger to practice meditation. In Chinese tradition, the middle finger symbolizes the Fire element, which means prosperity. Lifting your middle finger toward the sky could mean practicing a hand mudra which suggests healing states of mind. Some yoga teachers saw this as a symbol of connection or akasha.
Chinese Middle Finger Religious Belief
Hand gestures can mean many things in different cultures. In Chinese religions like Buddhism and Taoism, hand signs are called Mudras, these are ritual hand gestures used for meditation, consecration, or casting out evil.
In Hinduism, the middle finger believed to radiate energy to infinity, called the heavenly finger. Thus, meditating with a middle finger would harness the energy to find the drive to act and overcome fear. In the case of Buddhism, the middle finger makes sense in Dharmachakra mudra and Karana Mudra. Dharmachakra mudra means the setting into motion of the Wheel of the aching of the Dharma, and Karana Mudra means banishing evil or removing obstacles and sickness. Just like Hinduism and Buddhism, the middle finger in Taoism is the key component of any ritual in Kuji-in or Nine Hand Seal. The middle finger is the key component of hand gestures such as Tao, Sword, San Qing, and Jin Gang to complete. More than just the “bad finger” finger”, the middle finger has a lot more meaning in the spiritual context.