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The pictures are a little difficult to discern because they are all wrapped or tied with " fillets " which are ribbons. The Chinese like to tie ribbons around charms and other objects to represent rays or aura. For more on the symbolic meaning of ribbons please see the entry "ribbons and fillets" at Hidden Meaning of Chinese Charm Symbols. For another example of a charm with the halberd, stone chime and sceptre symbols please see the large "eight character" charm in the section below.

Both the ruyi sceptre and the stone chime are included in the "eight treasures". The old charm at the left shows considerable wear reflecting many, many years of use. The inscription is actually a very popular Chinese saying. The reverse side of the charm depicts a dragon on the right and a phoenix on the left. At the very bottom of the charm can be seen an ocean with waves.

The charm has a diameter of 52 mm and a weight of This is another "according to your wishes" charm. The reverse side of the charm displays a number of symbols. These two symbols can thus be interpreted to mean "good luck according to your wishes". Unfortunately, I am not able to identify the other symbols on this charm with certainty.

I think the shaft of the halberd extends down into a vase. I have not seen the symbol or symbols located below the square hole on any other charm. If you can identify these symbols, I would be most grateful if you would contact me. The charm has a diameter of Each character is oriented with its bottom next to the square hole which explains why, for example, the da character below the square hole is upside-down.

This charm is made of lead and was made in Dali in Yunnan Province during the Ming Dynasty The diameter is 23 mm and the weight is 4 grams. Longevity, Wealth and Honor The Chinese have always esteemed and honored those who have reached old age. It is no surprise, then, that a large number of charms express the desire to live a long life with honor and prosperity. Several examples of longevity, wealth and honor charms are displayed and explained in this section.

This is a very old and very worn charm. The inscription can be read in two ways although the meaning for both is the same. The inscription translates as "good fortune and longevity for a long time". Another charm with this same inscription written in both Chinese characters and Daoist "magic writing" is discussed in detail at Daoist Taoist Charms.

An outstanding characteristic of this charm is that the entire surface is covered with the pattern of small squares, referred to as a "meander", that is frequently seen on ancient Chinese bronzes and mirrors. Unfortunately, the wear on the charm makes it difficult to see this pattern.

The pattern of repeating rectangular spirals, that actually covers the entire surface of the obverse side of the charm, can be easily seen here. The symbols on the reverse side of the charm are also difficult to see clearly. On the right and left sides of the square hole are waves.

At the very bottom of the charm are two rhinoceroses. The rhinoceros horn is considered to be very valuable and is one of the Eight Treasures. The rhinoceros existed in southern China during very ancient times but then became extinct. The rhino subsequently took on a more legendary and mythic existence in the minds of the Chinese. It was believed that the stars in the sky were reflected in the veins and patterns of a rhinoceros horn. The ancient Chinese further believed that because of this close association with the heavens, the horn of the rhinoceros could emit a vapor that could penetrate water, traverse the sky and communicate directly with the spirits.

These special patterns on the rhino horn were believed to appear when the animal "gazed at the moon". If you observe closely, you will notice that the two rhinoceros have their heads turned and are "gazing" at the moon. Their horns have the magical power to penetrate the waves on each side of the charm and communicate directly with the moon located above the "auspicious" clouds.

This magical communication of the rhinoceros with the moon, stars and spirits has, over the centuries, taken on an extended meaning. The expression "the rhinoceros gazing at the moon" is now used in more romantic settings. This mystical connection has become a metaphor indicating a direct connection between the hearts of lovers who, by gazing at the moon, can be close to one another though they may be physically separated by great distances.

A charm illustrating this theme is discussed at Chinese Marriage Charms. This large charm has a diameter of 63 mm and a weight of 30 grams.

This is an example of a large eight character charm with the entire inscription on one side. For another example, please see The Eight Treasures. The charm has a round central hole instead of a square one.

The first four characters wish for "longevity, wealth and honor". The last four characters are almost identical to that on the obverse side of the above charm. Instead of saying "may gold and jade fill your house halls ", however, it says "may gold and silver fill your house halls ". This complicated design pattern is very similar to that on the reverse side of the large seal script charm in the "Four Character Charms" section above.

You may want to refer to that other charm to help differentiate the various symbols. The halberd is outlined in black in the image below. The three end points of this triangular-shaped musical instrument are marked with little circles.

If you connect these three points, you will see the triangular shaped stone chime musical instrument. The stone chime is outlined in red in the image below. The ruyi is outlined in blue in the image to the left. As is the case with the similar four-character charm above, the halberd, stone chime and sceptre are all wrapped or tied with a fillet ribbon , which in reality would be red, denoting "good luck". The reverse side therefore says in pictures the following: The meaning may be translated as "may your happiness or your rank be according to your wishes".

The charm is 60 mm in diameter. The charm on the left has one of the most common inscriptions regarding wealth and prosperity. The meaning is "may gold and jade fill your house hall ".

I find this inscription to be most interesting and revealing. The original verse can be translated as "when gold and jade fill the hall, their possessor cannot keep them safe". The implication is that having wealth makes a person feel unsafe because he will then worry that his money and belongings may be stolen. He will not have any such worries. Therefore, the original meaning of the verse has become corrupted over time because it is now used on charms as a fervent desire to have "gold and jade".

The hope for wealth and prosperity, a large family with many sons, and successful promotion to a government office is expressed on the reverse side. This charm has a diameter of He kept a register of the good and evil deeds of the people and bestowed wealth and good luck. The diameter is


Images and history of Chinese paper money with explanation of the vignettes, pictures and portraits. Han Trainer Chinese-English dictionary The following is a list of all words in this dictionary (that's why it took so long to load).

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