"Good Fortune" and Longevity Charms
Charms with 24 "Good Fortune"
Characters and 24 Longevity
The most common Chinese character (symbol) seen on charms is fu (福) which means "good fortune"
happiness. The second most common Chinese character (symbol)
charms is shou (寿) meaning
"long life" or longevity.
Each of the old Chinese charms displayed below has 24 different
variations of the
"good fortune" character fu
written on one side and 24 different variations of the
longevity character shou
written on the other side.
Reasons for 24 Characters (Symbols)
Apparently, more characters bring more "good luck" but why
It is interesting that this particular type of old
Chinese charm always
characters (symbols) on a
side. I have done some research but so far have not been able to
determine from any source as to exactly why the number of characters is
Possible reasons are proposed below.
Twenty-four is a multiple of 8. Eight is considered a very
in Chinese because of the similar pronunciation in certain Chinese
dialects of the number "8" and
wealth or "good fortune".
The reason may be because 24 is the sum of the
number of zodiac animals (12) and the number of Earthly Branches (12)
displayed on old Chinese zodiac charms. (For
additional information, please see ancient
Chinese zodiac charms.)
The special Chinese compass (luo pan
罗盘) used in feng shui (风水)
has a ring which indicates 24 directions poetically referred to as
"mountains" (shan 山) each 15
degrees apart. The 24 "mountains" include 4 of the 8 trigrams which are used as
points), 8 of the 10 Heavenly Stems
(excluding the two Earth Stems), and the 12
The number 24 is also the sum of the 12 months of
the year and the 12 shichen
(时辰). In ancient
China, the day was divided into 12
two-hour periods which were called shichen.
Perhaps the reason is because the Chinese, since ancient times, have
divided the year into 24 seasonal markers or solar terms or nodes
called jieqi (节气). The
24 jieqi correspond to the
different positions the sun occupies in regard to the 12 signs of the
zodiac and include the following: Slight cold, Great cold,
Beginning of Spring, Rain water, Excited insects, Vernal equinox, Pure
brightness, Corn rain, Beginning of Summer, Small fullness, Sprouting
seeds, Summer solstice, Slight heat, Great heat, Beginning of Autumn,
Stopping of heat, White dew, Autumnal equinox, Cold dew, Frost's
descent, Beginning of Winter, Slight snow, Heavy snow, and Winter
Confucianism dominated Chinese society for
two thousand years and
included as its primary virtue "filial
which was respect for
one's parents and ancestors. One of the most famous historical
collections of stories concerning how children displayed filial piety,
and known by all Chinese, was "The Twenty-Four Examples of Filial
Piety" (ershisixiao 二十四孝). (For a very interesting discussion of
a Confucian charm depicting four of these stories please visit Confucian Charms.)
The first religious Daoist sect, known as Wudoumi Dao (五斗米道
"Five Bushels of Rice"), was established by Zhang Daoling at the end of
the Han Dynasty and organized into 24 districts or dioceses (zhi 治).
Finally, the reason for 24 characters may be associated with the
Chinese traditionally viewing life in groups of 12. For
example, a child
grew into adolescence at the age of 12. A person entered society
for the first time at age 24. At 36, a person reached
maturity. At 48, a person was expected to have accomplished
life and then to retire at age 60.
Whatever the real reason may be for having exactly 24 fu characters and 24 shou characters, anyone who
appreciates the beauty of Chinese calligraphy will certainly enjoy
viewing these charms.
This old Chinese charm has the "good fortune" character fu (福) written 24 times on one
Each character is written in a slightly different way or
You will also notice that this type of charm has a circular hole
instead of the square hole found on Chinese coins.
with round holes were meant to be worn on a necklace or hung from the
The diameter of this piece is almost 45 mm and the weight is 21.9 grams.