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Huo Bu Charm

I frequently receive correspondence from people who have a coin or charm they would like identified.

The following is my reply to such an inquiry and I have attached a rubbing of the charm for reference.

Chinese huobu charm

It is a charm.

However, it is based on an ancient form of spade money called a “Huo Bu”.  If you visit my Chinese Spade Charms web page you will see a real “Huo Bu” cast in the year 14 AD during the reign of Wang Mang.

As best I can tell from reference books, your charm is actually fairly modern.  Apparently, it first appeared during the early years of the Republic of China sometime after 1911.  From your photos, I would say that your particular charm is a very recent copy of this older charm.

One of my reference books says that this charm may actually be Japanese and not Chinese.

The charm has some interesting features.  It has the same Chinese inscription “Huo Bu” as the original Wang Mang spade coin upon which it is based.  It is much much bigger in size.  Just above the Chinese characters is the seven star “Big Dipper”constellation.  There is a snake on the lower right foot and a “three -legged toad” on the left foot.

The reverse side has the sun (the dot) and moon (crescent) at the upper left.  At the upper right are three stars connected by a line.  This refers to the three “Star Gods”.  The two “human figures” are unknown.  On the right foot may be a heron or egret.  I am not certain what symbol is on the left foot but I believe it is a tortoise exhaling an “auspicious cloud“.

To learn more about these symbols, please look under the appropriate entry at my Hidden Meaning web page.

I hope the above is helpful to you.

Thank you for writing,

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