A reader was having trouble identifying this “Chinese” charm and wrote me asking if I could provide any assistance.
The image displays a Buddha meditating in a lotus position.
The charm is made of bronze, has a broad rim, and has a round hole in the center.
The Chinese characters on the other side of the charm are read in the following order: top, bottom, right, left.
The inscription is da fo lian cang (大佛鐮倉), using Chinese pronunciation, and translates as “Great Buddha of Kamakura”.
The charm is actually Japanese and the image is of a large statue in Japan known as the “Great Buddha of Kamakura”.
At the left is a picture of the “Great Buddha” (Daibutsu in Japanese) which is a very large bronze statue at the Kotokuin Buddhist temple near the city of Kamakura, Japan.
The Buddha is 13.35 meters (43.8 feet) tall and weighs 93 tons. It is the second largest monumental Buddha in Japan.
The statue was cast in 1252 AD and was originally enclosed inside a wooden structure. During the late 1400’s, the wooden structure was washed away during a tsunami and the Buddha has been sitting outdoors ever since.
This is the Amitabha (Amida) Buddha associated with the Pure Land sect of Buddhism which originated in China and spread to Japan during the 12th century.
The inscription on the stone tablet seen in the picture translates as “National Treasure: Great Buddha of Kamakura”.
Over the centuries, Buddhist charms originating in Japan have frequently been found in China. These charms are discussed at Buddhist Charms.