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May 2011

China’s Largest Gold Coin

China’s Largest Gold Coin thumbnail

China recently auctioned the largest gold coin the country has ever minted.  In the year 2000 when it was produced, it held the distinction of being the largest gold coin in the world. The coin sold for about $1.18 million (7.70 million yuan) at an auction conducted by China Guardian Auctions on May 14, 2011 [...]


“Eight Decalitres of Talent” Charm

“Eight Decalitres of Talent” Charm thumbnail

Cao Cao (曹操, 155-220 AD) was a warlord and a major historical figure of the Three Kingdoms period of ancient China. Cao Cao had two sons.  Both Cao Pi (曹丕) and Cao Zhi (曹植) were very intelligent but the younger Cao Zhi was exceptionally gifted. At the left is a handmade charm dating from the [...]


Chinese Star Charm

Chinese Star Charm thumbnail

The “da guan tong bao” (大觀通寶) coin shown here was cast during the years 1107-1110 of the reign of Emperor Hui Zong of the Song Dynasty.  The coin is considered one of the most beautiful of all Chinese coins due to its exquisite calligraphy.  The Emperor himself did the calligraphy and his style has become [...]


“Battle of Jimo” Horse Coin

“Battle of Jimo” Horse Coin thumbnail

Most ancient Chinese horse coins display only a horse with no rider. Horse coins displaying a horse with a rider are much scarcer and those originating from the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) are particularly rare. The specimen at the left is a later version of one of these Song Dynasty horse coins with a rider. [...]


“Drilled Hole” Ban Liang Coins

“Drilled Hole” Ban Liang Coins thumbnail

The ban liang coin was the official money of the state of Qin during the Warring States period.  When Qin Shi Huang conquered the various “warring states” and unified China for the first time in 221 BC, the ban liang became the official coinage of the empire.  The ban liang continued as the official currency [...]


Safe Journey Charm

Safe Journey Charm thumbnail

In ancient times just as today, people were concerned about their safety when they traveled.  So it is not surprising that safe journey or safe travel charms compose a major category of old Chinese charms. A rubbing of one of the more interesting examples of this type of charm is shown here. The inscription, written [...]

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Chinese Pavilion Open Work Charm

Chinese Pavilion Open Work Charm thumbnail

“Open work” charms are among the most interesting and oldest of all Chinese charms.  These are bronze charms which have irregular shaped “openings” or “holes” between very exquisite design elements. The themes are purely pictorial so there is rarely any Chinese character or inscription.  Also, owing to the design, both sides of the charm are [...]


Chinese Birthday Banknotes

Chinese Birthday Banknotes thumbnail

According to recent reports, the Chinese have been looking for new gift ideas for the major holidays which differ from the more traditional gifts of wine, cigarettes, moon cakes, etc. Of course, the most traditional gift has always been the giving of paper money in a red envelope. In line with the rapidly rising standard [...]


Kazakhstan Zodiac Charm

Ancient Kazakhstan Zodiac Charm

I received a fascinating email from a visitor to my website from Kazakhstan in which he described a rare ancient zodiac charm in his possession. The Chinese zodiac is based on a twelve year cycle with an animal having unique qualities representing each year.  The zodiac charm discussed here has the animals displayed on one [...]


“Quest for Longevity” Daoist Charm

Daoist Longevity Charm

The Chinese have a long history in regard to the quest for longevity. Qin Shi Huang (259 BC – 210 BC), the first emperor of China, sent expeditions looking for the mystical Penglai Island, where the immortals lived, in his quest to obtain the elixir of life which would allow him to live forever. His [...]


“Song of Unending Sorrow” Charm

“Song of Unending Sorrow” Charm thumbnail

I received an email from a visitor to my website asking if I could provide him with any information on the charm shown here. The area surrounding the square hole shows four couples making love in various positions.  (Or, one couple making love in four positions.) Charms of this type are actually fairly common. The [...]

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Little Shoe Charms to Find Love

I received an email regarding a Chinese tradition of girls hanging little shoe charms over their beds in the hope of finding love: “Recently I was in Cape Cod and went to a very interesting store where a woman was selling ancient Chinese charms. “She told me the story of how Chinese girls used to [...]