In feng shui, water symbolizes prosperity and abundance, and for that reason, aquariums, fountains, ponds, and other water-related items are sometimes recommended to attract wealth energy into homes and offices. Fish, too, denote water, so carp (aka koi) and goldfish are both Chinese fortune symbols. Chinese traditions indicate that wealth symbols should come in "pairs" because couples propagate future generations – and subsequently, future expansion. Notice how all the creatures in this painting come in pairs: two goldfish, two dragonfish, two koi and two sea snakes. Chi-Jen Liu's message reads loud and clear when he titled this piece "Buddha and Fish Promote Abundance."
The Chinese language is multi-layered; therefore, phonetic wordplay is frequently used by the artist to enhance symbolism. Take, for instance, the Prosperity Buddha featured in this painting. He is depicted holding a cornucopia from which eight red stars pour forth. Why eight? Because in Chinese, the number eight is pronounced "ba," which can be linguistically interpreted to mean "prosperity." It is easy to miss this symbol at first glance, so Chi-Jen Liu gives another clue by curling the tail of the red sea snake into a figure eight!
Wisdom is a prerequisite for the attainment of wealth. In his book, "The Ultimate Feng Shui Solution," Chi-Jen Liu reveals an intimate memory that explains why spaceships play an important role in his work. He says, "My family moved to North Vietnam when I was seven. In retrospection, I can still recall playing with bottle caps with some of my friends in our elementary school playground. The sky was darkened by what we assumed was a cloud covering the sun, but instead, I had my first paranormal experience of seeing a UFO in the sky. It came as fast as it went, disappearing in a white glow. Today, I believe that extraterrestrial beings are part of human ancestry. They guide us with their intelligence. From that day, my friends and I became fascinated by all mysterious things." The spaceships represent the wisdom bounty that the artist believes will guide generations to come. Not coincidentally, the spaceships in his piece are arranged as pairs.