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The origins of the expressions of Wu Hua Ba Men

Wu Hua Ba Men is a frequently-used Chinese idiom. It stands for variety and changeability. The literal meaning of “Wu hua” is five flowers and eight doors for “ba men”. Actually, Wu Hua Ba Men used to refer the various trades. Of “wu hua”, “jin hua” referred to tea girls; “mu mian hua”, traditional Chinese medicine doctors; “shui xian hua”, female singers; “huo la hua” acrobats; and “tu niu hua”, bearers. Of “ba men”, the first, “jin”, referred to fortune-tellers; the 2nd, “pi”, herbal medicine salesmen; the 3rd, “cai” magicians; the 4th, “gua”, itinerant en tellers; tertainers; the 5th, “ping”, story tellers; the 6th, “tuan”, street singers; the 7th, “diao”, hut binders; the 8th, “liu”, stage performers. All the trades above were those engaged by laborers of low social status. This is the origin of the expression Wu Hua Ba Men. That’s why now it is used in oral Chinese frequently with a little bit negative meaning.

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