The White Tiger is one of the Four Symbols of the Chinese constellations. It is sometimes called the White Tiger of the West (西方白虎, Xī Fāng Bái Hǔ), and is known as Bái Hǔ in Chinese, Byakko in Japanese, Baekho in Korean and Bạch Hổ in Vietnam. It represents the west in terms of direction and the autumn season.
In Chinese culture, the tiger is the king of the beasts and has been presented with a 王 (wáng, eng. king) on his forehead for centuries. According to legend, the tiger's tail would turn white when it reached the age of 500 years. In this way, the white tiger became a kind of mythological creature. It was said that the white tiger would only appear when the emperor ruled with absolute virtue, or if there was peace throughout the world. Because the color white of the Wu Xing theory also represents the west, the white tiger became a mythological guardian of the west.
The White Tiger as interpreted by contemporary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. From his series Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, shown here on exhibit in Prague, 2016.