In the far east, mandarin ducks are used for relationship healing purposes. They are recognized as symbols of a strong and long-lasting relationship. This originates from the fact that mandarin ducks mate for life. When they find a partner, they will stick with that same partner for the rest of their lives. It is said that if they are ever separated, they will pine for each other and will soon die of loneliness.
A Japanese folktale tells the story of this everlasting bond between mandarin ducks. It begins with a feudal lord capturing a mandarin duck for its beautiful plumage. The duck now separated from its mate, is utterly miserable and slowly starts to die of loneliness.
The lord's servant maid and her samurai lover see the true love and loyalty between the mandarin ducks, and decide to reunite the ducks against their lord's wishes. The lord, angered by this disobedience, condemns the two lovers to death. Thus begins a story of love and loyalty.
This folktale has been popularized in English by Katherine Paterson's book The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks.
Due to the overwhelming love and loyalty displayed in this folktale, throughout the ages many people have associated mandarin ducks with unwavering love and fidelity, and have used symbols of mandarin ducks as relationship-healing solutions and cures.