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Chinese charms

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 [...]


Nine-Fold Seal Script Charm

Nine-Fold Seal Script Charm thumbnail

Beginning with the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and extending to the last years of imperial China, government seals were engraved in a very stylized Chinese script known as “nine-fold” seal script. This rounded and convoluted script is both ornate and authoritarian but can be difficult to read by the uninitiated. A few very rare coins cast [...]

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Happiness Is Before Your Eyes

Happiness Is Before Your Eyes thumbnail

The Chinese love visual puns. The old Chinese charm displayed at the left is a good example. The charm shows a bat on top of two coins. Coins with the inscription wu zhu (五铢) were first used during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) and then produced during a number of dynasties until [...]

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Coins and Charms of the Shui Nationality

Coins and Charms of the Shui Nationality thumbnail

The Shui people (水族) are one of the ethnic minority groups who live mainly in the Sandu Shui Autonomous County (三都水族自治县) of southwest China’s Guizhou Province (贵州省). The Shui (Sui) are descendants of the ancient Baiyue (百越) who lived in the area of southern China and northern Vietnam beginning in the first millennium BC. “Shui” [...]


“Happiness According to Your Wishes” Charm

“Happiness According to Your Wishes” Charm thumbnail

The Chinese love visual puns. The old charm displayed at the left recently appeared in a Chinese coin forum. Although the quality of the images may not be the best, the symbols on the reverse side of the charm are a good example of a visual pun also known as a rebus. The inscription on [...]


Qing Dynasty Peace Charm

Qing Dynasty Peace Charm thumbnail

Chinese charms very often resemble Chinese coins.  A number of old Chinese charms are modeled after a coin issued during the reign of Emperor Taizong (太宗 939-997 AD) of the Northern Song Dynasty.  The inscription on the coin was taiping tongbao (太平通宝) which translates as “Currency of the Great Peace”. At the left is a [...]


Tiger Hour Charm

Tiger Hour Charm thumbnail

Many old Chinese charms were modeled after a well-known ancient Chinese coin.  This coin’s calligraphy was simple yet elegant and the inscription expressed the primal foundation of the universe according to ancient Chinese philosophy. The coin was the wu xing da bu (“Large Coin of the Five Elements” 五行大布) which was cast during the reign [...]

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Liao Dynasty “Mother of Nine Sons” Charm

Liao Dynasty “Mother of Nine Sons” Charm thumbnail

A nomadic people known as the Khitan (Qidan 契丹) ruled China as the Liao Dynasty (辽朝) during the period 916-1125 AD. Charms from the Liao Dynasty are fairly rare and those with inscriptions can be difficult to decipher because the Qidan script is not well understood. Liao Dynasty charms lacking inscriptions are also a challenge [...]


Chinese Treasure Bowl Charm

Chinese Treasure Bowl Charm thumbnail

Since ancient times, there have been stories of a magical “treasure bowl” (ju bao pen 聚宝盆) that can create unlimited riches, and sometimes great sorrow, for its owner. While the actual treasure bowl remains to be found, its image has became a popular symbol of good fortune. At the left is an old Chinese “hanging” [...]