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Chinese charms

A Talented and Noble Young Man

A Talented and Noble Young Man thumbnail

When emperors ruled China, the dream of Chinese parents was to have a son successfully pass the imperial examinations and be appointed to an important government position bringing honor and prosperity to the family. The charm displayed below is representative of the Chinese charms expressing such a wish. This bronze charm has finely sculptured characters [...]


Shun Tian Yuan Bao Charm

Shun Tian Yuan Bao Charm thumbnail

This beautifully engraved and gilded shun tian yuan bao (顺天元寶) charm dating from the Tang Dynasty (唐朝) appeared at an auction in China in 2015. Shun tian yuan bao coins were issued during the years 759-761 by Shi Siming (史思明), a rebel leader who seized control of the Tang dynasty capital of Luoyang (洛阳).  Luoyang [...]


Lu Dongbin Charm

Lu Dongbin Charm thumbnail

Lu Dongbin (吕洞宾), a poet and scholar who lived during the Tang dynasty (唐朝 618-907), is one of the rare historical figures who attained the status of an “immortal” in popular culture. He is perhaps the best known of the Chinese “Eight Immortals” (八仙). Over the centuries, Lu Dongbin was posthumously honored with a number [...]


May There Be the Birth of One Honorable Son after Another

May There Be the Birth of One Honorable Son after Another thumbnail

This very attractive hand carved charm from the Qing dynasty (清朝 1644-1912) was sold at a China Guardian auction in Beijing in 2013. The inscription on the obverse side of the charm (shown above) reads lian sheng gui zi (连生贵子) which translates as “May there be the birth of one honorable son after another”. Sons [...]


“Dragon Soaring and Phoenix Dancing” Charm

“Dragon Soaring and Phoenix Dancing” Charm thumbnail

Wang Bo (王勃) was a Tang dynasty poet and is considered one of the Four Paragons of the Early Tang (初唐四杰). His masterpiece is the Preface to the Prince of Teng’s Pavilion (tengwang ge xu 滕王阁序) which describes the scene at a grand banquet he attended at the Pavilion of Prince Teng. The Pavilion of [...]


Chinese Charm with Musicians, Dancers and Acrobats

Chinese Charm with Musicians, Dancers and Acrobats thumbnail

This is a rare and exquisitely made charm.  However, there is no Chinese inscription and collectors are still uncertain as to its theme. The charm, which first appeared during the Liao (辽朝 907-1125) or Song (宋朝 960-1279) dynasties, is believed to depict huren playing musical instruments, dancing, and doing acrobatics (胡人乐舞杂伎). Hu (胡) means “beard” so [...]


Legacy of an Untarnished Reputation

Legacy of an Untarnished Reputation thumbnail

China has historically admired government officials who displayed the highest degree of learning and moral integrity in their work. At the left is a charm which honors such an official. The inscription, written in a particular style of seal script to be discussed later, reads qing bai chuan jia (清白传家) which translates as “pureness handed [...]


Vault Protector Coins

Vault Protector Coins thumbnail

On special occasions in ancient times, Chinese mints would cast an unusually large, thick, heavy and well-made coin. The coin was known as a “vault protector” (zhen ku qian 镇库钱). The coin was not for circulation but occupied a special place at the treasury. The treasury had a spirit hall where offerings could be made [...]


Chinese “Laid to Rest” Burial Charm

Chinese “Laid to Rest” Burial Charm thumbnail

There is a certain Chinese bronze “coin” that is not included in Chinese coin catalogues. It is sometimes referred to as a “charm” but is not included in Chinese charm catalogues either. It seems that no one wants to have this coin in their collection. At the left is an example of the “coin”. The [...]


Chinese Numismatic Charms Museum

Chinese Numismatic Charms Museum thumbnail

The Chinese Numismatic Charms Museum (中国古代民俗钱币博物馆), China’s first museum dedicated specifically to ancient Chinese charms, officially opened on February 1, 2015 in Haikou (海口市), Hainan  Province (海南省). The museum is located in Movie Town which is a movie-themed town built to resemble the city of Chongqing (重庆市) as it existed in the year 1942. Chongqing [...]


Not Being Greedy Is a Treasure

Not Being Greedy Is a Treasure thumbnail

An unusual Chinese charm was recently posted to a popular Chinese coin forum in China. The charm is shown at the left. The inscription bu tan wei bao (不貪為寶) is written in seal script and translates as “not being greedy is a treasure”. The phrase is a reference to a story in the Zuo Zuan [...]


Ming Dynasty Cloisonne Charm

Ming Dynasty Cloisonne Charm thumbnail

The vast majority of old Chinese charms are made of bronze or brass.  Towards the end of the imperial period, charms made of silver also became popular. Cloisonne is an ancient method of creating colorful designs on metal objects.  Small silver or gold wires are soldered onto a metal object and the areas within the [...]