Why did I fail by answering "bamboo is a familiar picture in vietnam" ?
IMHO, you shouldn't have, as that is a reasonable English equivalent.
A picture is not the same as an image. The latter is more abstract and not specific.
The Mona Lisa is a picture; bamboo in general is not.
From Chinese 形影 ‘form and shadow; silhouette’ (the former meaning is used in Vietnamese too)
Why not use "the bamboo" in this sentence?
Why is 'of' Vietnam not correct?
that would be "cua vietnam" I guess....
I can repeat this sentence a hundred times but I still don't know what it really means.
How is bamboo an image?
they mean "familiar sight" - something you would see often - some things just do not translate literally (in my experience).