… Kultur & Sprache


Lehre der Fünf Elemente (Wikipedia)

Die fünf Hauptfarben Grün, Weiß, Rot, Schwarz, Gelb galten fortan als Symbole für die fünf klassischen Grundelemente Holz, Metall, Feuer, Wasser, Erde und ebenfalls für die fünf Himmelsrichtungen Ost, West, Süd, Nord, Mitte. Alle spätere Fabsymbolik in China sollte sich fortan an dieser kaiserlichen Einteilung orientieren.

Anwendungen und Ausdeutungen der Fünf Elemente
Kategorien 木   Holz / Blau 火   Feuer / Rot 土   Erde / Gelb 金   Metall / Grau 水   Wasser / Schwarz
Die natürliche Welt
Fünf Richtungen Ost Süd Mitte West Nord
Fünf Geschmacksrichtungen sauer bitter süß scharf salzig
Fünf Jahreszeiten Frühling Sommer Mittsommer Herbst Winter
Fünf Umwandlungen Zeugung Wachstum Reife Ernte Aufbewahrung
Fünf Tageszeiten Morgen Mittag Nachmittag Abend Nacht
Doppelstunden
(Organuhr)
23 bis 1 Uhr
Gallenblasenmeridian
(Yang) Holz
11 bis 13 Uhr
Herzmeridian
(Yin) Kaiserliches Feuer
19 bis 21 Uhr
Perikardmeridian
(Yin) Ministerielles Feuer
7 bis 9 Uhr
Magenmeridian
(Yang) Erde
3 bis 5 Uhr
Lungenmeridian
(Yin) Metall
15 bis 17 Uhr
Blasenmeridian
(Yang) Wasser
1 bis 3 Uhr
Lebermeridian
(Yin) Holz
13 bis 15 Uhr
Dünndarmmeridian
(Yang) Kaiserliches Feuer
21 bis 23 Uhr
Dreifacher-Erwärmer-Meridian
(Yang) Ministerielles Feuer
9 bis 11 Uhr
Milzmeridian
(Yin) Erde
5 bis 7 Uhr
Dickdarmmeridian
(Yang) Metall
17 bis 19 Uhr
Nierenmeridian
(Yin) Wasser
Fünf Witterungen Wind Hitze Feuchtigkeit Trockenheit Kälte
Fünf Wandlungsphasen schwaches Yang starkes Yang Ausgeglichenheit schwaches Yin starkes Yin
Fünf geometrische Formen Zylinder Pyramide Quader Kuppel irregulär
Fünf Töne Terz Quinte Prime Sekunde Sexte
Fünf Planeten Jupiter Mars Saturn Venus Merkur
Fünf Tiere Drache Feng Huang Qilin Tiger Schildkröte
Der Mensch (menschlicher Körper) – TCM
Fünf Zang-(Yin-)Organe Leber Herz Milz Lunge Niere
Fünf Fu-(Yang-)Organe Gallenblase Dünndarm Magen Dickdarm Blase
Fünf Sinne sehen sprechen schmecken riechen hören
Fünf Sinnesorgane Auge Mund Zunge Nase Ohr
Fünf Körpergewebe Sehne Blutgefäße Muskeln Haut und Haar Knochen
Fünf Gefühle Freude Zorn Verlangen Trauer Furcht
Fünf Lautäußerungen Gelächter Geschrei Gesang Weinen Seufzen
Fünf Körperflüssigkeiten Tränen Schweiß Speichel Schleim Urin
Übergreifendes
Fünf Lebensalter Geburt und
Wachstum
Ausbildung und
Entwicklung
Reife und
Übergang
Nachreife und
Ernte
Abbau und
Genuss der Ernte
Zwölf Erdzweige
Tierzeichen
Tiger
Hase
Schlange
Pferd
Drache
Schaf
Hund
Ochse
Affe
Hahn
Schwein
Ratte
Zehn (=2·5) Himmelsstämme jiă
bĭng
dīng

gēng
xīn
rén
guĭ
Acht Trigramme ☴ 巽 xùn
☳ 震 zhèn
☲ 離 ☷ 坤 kūn
☶ 艮 gèn
☰ 乾 qián
☱ 兌 duì
☵ 坎 kǎn
CJK-Wochentage Donnerstag Dienstag Samstag Freitag Mittwoch

Ich probiere gerade chinesisch zu lernen. Nicht ganz so einfach. Vom englischen nach pinyin, dann Aussprache mit den 5 Tones (hoch -, tief-hoch /, hoch-tief-hoch V, hoch-tief \, nichts), dann Zeichen . Die Aussprache faellt mir dabei am schwersten.

Danke = Thank you = xiè xiè = 谢谢 = sound

Und als ich nun pinyin schreiben wollten, musste da auch erst mal eine Loesung gefunden werden um die Tones zu integrieren.

PinYin mit der Tastatur schreiben?

Mit dem PC:
QuickPinyin – kleines programm, dass bei der Eingabe der “Tones” das richtige Zeichen setzt. hao3 wird zu hǎo.

PinyinTones – installiert eine Tastatur mit Pinyin tones. Bei Aktivierung wird aus hao3 dann hǎo.

Online:

mdbg.net
chinese-tools.com
lexilogos.com

und dann noch zum Uebersetzen:
bing.com/translator/
translate.google.com.sg/
popupchinese.com/chinese/translator


Tones:

Wǒ yào kàn shū = I want to read a book.
Wǒ yào kǎn shù = I want to cut trees!

Mandarin uses four tones to clarify the meanings of words. Since many characters have the same sound, tones are used to differentiate words from each other.

The four tones in Mandarin are:

high level – first tone
rising – second tone
falling rising – third tone
falling – fourth tone

Pinyin uses either numbers or tone marks to indicate the tones. Here is the word ‘ma’ with tone marks:

First tone: ma1 or mā
Second tone: ma2 or má
Third tone: ma3 or mǎ
Fourth tone: ma4 or mà

The tones are used to determine the meaning of a Mandarin word. So mǎ (horse) is very different from mā (mother).

When learning new vocabulary you must practice both the pronunciation of the word and its tone. The wrong tones can change the meaning of your sentences.

Sounds
ABC
Numbers


pin1yin1 to pīnyīn converter:
(enter text like pin1yin1, hit submit and receiver text like pīnyīn)



Provinzen

The Birthday Song is sung in many languages, including Mandarin Chinese.

shēng rì kuài lè

zhù nǐ shēng rì kuài lè

English Translation

Happy Birthday

Wish to you happy birthday
Wish to you happy birthday
Wish to you happy birthday
Wish to you happiness forever

生日快樂

祝你生日快樂
祝你生日快樂
祝你生日快樂
祝你永遠快樂

shēng rì kuài lè

zhù nǐ shēng rì kuài lè
zhù nǐ shēng rì kuài lè
zhù nǐ shēng rì kuài lè
zhù nǐ yǒngyuǎn kuài lè


Quelle: www.alltagsjournalismus.com

7 Worte, die jeder Ausländer in China kennt

Obwohl viele ausländische Expats manchmal für Jahre im Reich der Mitte leben, scheint der Großteil auch nach längerer Zeit noch ein gewaltiges Problem mit der chinesischen Sprache zu haben. Sie selbst entschuldigen dies damit, dass an ihrer Seite immer ein Dolmetscher (chinesisch: 翻译, Aussprache: “fānyì “) sei und es daher kaum Möglichkeiten gäbe die Sprache zu erlernen oder zu praktizieren. In Wirklichkeit gibt der Großteil bereits nach kurzer Zeit auf. Es ist daher wenig verwunderlich, dass eine englischsprachige Internetseite für Exparts in Shanghai nur auf sieben Worte kommt, die diese in der Zeit ihres Auffenthaltes im Reich der Mitte erlernen. Dabei sind sieben Worte schon recht erstaunlich, denn der tatsächliche Großteil der Exparts kommt auch nach Jahren über “guten Tag” (chinesisch: 你好, Aussprache: “nǐ hǎo”) und “auf Wiedersehen” (chinesisch: 再见, Aussprache: “zàijiàn”) nicht hinaus.

Sieben Worte, die angeblich jeder Ausländer in China kennt

1. Quittung

Die Quittung (chinesisch: 发票, Aussprache: “fāpiào”) wird auch oft mit Rechnung (chinesisch: 发货清单, Aussprache: “fāhuò qīngdān”) übersetzt, trifft es jedoch nicht ganz. Die Quittung hat jedoch einen entscheidenden Vorteil. Auf ihrer rechten oberen Ecke ist immer ein “Rubbellos”, hinter welchem akzeptablen Geldgewinne verborgen sein können, die umgehend ausbezahlt werden. Durch sie sollen auch Kunden tatsächlich angehalten werden, sich eine Quittung geben zu lassen. Nur so können die chinesischen Finanzbehörden einen Großteil, der sonst “schwarz” eingenommen Umsätze auch steuerlich nachvollziehen. Hinzu kommt, dass Arbeitgeber Quittungen von der Steuer absetzen können und daher oftmals ihren Mitarbeitern einen Teil des Quittungsbetrages erstatten – egal ob es betriebliche Ausgaben waren oder nicht.

2. Haushaltshilfe

Genau genommen handelt es sich um das Wort “Ayi” (chinesisch: 阿姨 , Aussprache: “āyí”), welches eine Vielzahl von Bedeutungen hat. Haushaltshilfe, Putzfrau, Kindermädchen, Babysitter oder alles zusammen. Viele Expats in China bekommen von ihrem Arbeitgeber eine Ayi bezahlt und mindesten genauso viele wäre ohne ihre Ayi hoffnungslos aufgeschmissen. So ist die Ayi oftmals mindesten genauso wichtig wie die eigene Ehefrau, sofern diese ebenfalls in China ist, oder die heimliche Geliebte.

3. Beziehungen / Netzwerk

Das chinesische Äquivalent zu “Vitamin-B”, also den nützlichen Beziehungen zu anderen Personen oder dem persönlichen Netzwerk ist “Guanxi” (chinesisch: 关系, Aussprache: “guānxì”). Für Chinesen geht ohne Guanxi nichts im Leben. Selbst alte Beziehungen aus der Grundschulzeit werden gepflegt, da diese unter Umständen zu einem späteren Zeitpunkt im Leben noch nützlich sein können. Sie sind oft entscheidend über Erfolg oder Misserfolg. Ausländern ist diese Form der persönlichen Netzwerkpflege oft schon zuviel und denken nicht selten, dass keine Guangxi zu haben auch “Meiguanxi” ist.

4. Kein Problem – “OK”

Es ist schon erstaunlich, dass alleine durch das Voranstellen des Präfix “nicht” vor das Wort “Beziehung” ein neues nützliches Wort entsteht, welches soviel wie, “es ist OK” bedeutet. Meiguanxi (chinesisch: 没关系, Aussprache: “méiguānxì”) bedeutet aber auch “das macht nichts”, “nichts zu danken”, “bitteschön”, “keine Ursache”, “nicht der Rede Wert”, “kein Problem” oder “schon gut”. Warum allerdings eine “nicht Beziehung” sprachlich gleichbedeutend mit “ist, OK” ist, ist kaum zu verstehen.

5. Ausländer

Genau genommen verwendet der Chinese zwei Wörter für die Bezeichnung “Ausländer”. Den meisten Exparts ist das höflichere Wort “Laowai” geläufig, was soviel wie “der Fremde, die Fremde” oder eben auch “Ausländer” bedeutet. Dabei wird das zweite Wort, Weiguoren (chinesisch: 外国人, Aussprache: “wàiguó rén”) nicht weniger selten in China verwendet. Dann allerdings in der Regel in Wortkombinationen wie dem “ausländischen Onkel” (chinesisch: 外国叔叔, Aussprache: “wàiguó shūshu”) oder dem “ausländischen Freund” (chinesisch: 外国朋友, Aussprache: “wàiguó péngyǒu”). Der Einsatz des “Ausländers” in Worten ist mannigfaltig. Im deutschsprachigen Raum würde man Personen, die dies so betonen als Rassisten bezeichnen. Den Laowai sollte man allerdings kennen. Egal wo man in China ist, sobald es “Laowai Laowai” erschallt kann man sicher sein, auch gemeint zu sein.

6. Kellnerin

Wer sich im Restaurant nicht melden kann, wird leicht übersehen. Ein freundliches Winken könnte auch als Gestikulieren verstanden werden, vor allem dann, wenn man eben nicht alleine am Tisch sitzt. Die Kellnerin (chinesisch: 服务员, Aussprache: “fúwùyuán”) sollte man also in einer dem Restaurant angepassten Lautstärke rufen können, um die nötige Aufmerksamkeit zu erhalten. Noch vor Jahren rief man noch nach dem “Fräulein” (chinesisch: 小姐, Aussprache: “xiǎojiě”), was man heute jedoch tunlichst unterlassen sollte. Heute ist das “Fräulein” gleichbedeutend mit “Prostituierte” (chinesisch: 妓女, Aussprache: “jìnǚ”). Expats, die sich dem Wort “Fräulein” bedienen, outen sich daher in China garantiert im negativen Sinne.

7. Zahlen

Wer nach dem Essen bezahlen möchte, der ruft in der Regel mehr oder weniger lautstark “Maidan” (chinesisch: 买单, Aussprache: “mǎidān”) in den Raum. Es handelt sich hierbei um ein “Zahlen!” und weniger um ein “ich möchte bitte bezahlen”, was in China jedoch vollkommen normal ist. Der geübtere Expat schafft es immerhin zwei Worte seines hart erlernten Wortschatzes zu kombinieren: Kellnerin! Zahlen! (chinesisch: 服务员!买单!, Aussprache: “fúwùyuán! mǎidān!”).


Some basics Language information

english pinyin symbol
stop tíng Stop / Ting
nach rechts yòuguăi
nach links zuŏguăi

Chinese Symbols and Their Meanings (Quelle: primaltrek.com)
Since a fundamental difference between old Chinese coins and charms has to do with the use of symbols, a basic understanding of the language of the symbols is needed to fully appreciate Chinese charms. Listed below, in alphabetical order, is a comprehensive list of objects that include those which have become symbols because of their similar pronunciation to auspicious Chinese words. Also included are other objects frequently seen on charms which have become symbols due to mythology, history or cultural associations.

Apple
An apple can be a
visual pun for peace because the Chinese word for
apple (pingguo 苹果) and the word for peace (pingan
平安)
are both pronounced ping.
A persimmon (shi
柿)

paired with an apple (pingguo 苹果) forms the
rebus “may your matters
(shi 事) be

safe (pingan 平安)“.

Apricot An apricot grove, or
field of apricots,
is a symbol for success in the imperial
examination system
because the very first
celebration honoring successful candidates allegedly
took place in an apricot grove.
Axe

(axe head)

The axe (fu 斧) has the
same pronunciation as “happiness” (fu 福) and as a
weapon symbolizes power and the ability to punish.
The axe head is also one of the Twelve Imperial
Symbols
.
The axe is also the symbol of Lu Ban (鲁班) who is known
as the God of Carpenters.
In Buddhism, the axe
symbolizes the destruction of evil.
The axe can also refer to a marriage matchmaker.
Bamboo
Bamboo
symbolizes the ideals of a Confucian
scholar because both are perceived as upright, strong
and resilient while still being gentle, graceful and
refined.
Bamboo also represents the ideals of the Taoists
(Daoists) because it can bend during the worst weather
but not break.
The bamboo is a member of the Three Friends in Winter.
Bamboo depicted on a charm is also a pun because the
Chinese word for bamboo (zhu 竹) and the Chinese word for “to
wish” or “to congratulate” (zhu 祝) are pronounced the same.
Because it has a “hollow center” (kongxu
虚),

bamboo also symbolizes “modesty” (qianxu 谦虚)
because the second character for both has the same
pronunciation (xu).
Bamboo was traditionally used to frighten away evil
spirits, such as the mythical beast Nian (年), because
when placed in a fire it would create a loud crackling
sound similar to firecrackers.
A charm with the bamboo symbol may be seen at Liu Hai and the
Three-Legged Toad
.
Bamboo tallies, a type of token currency that
circulated in parts of eastern China during the late
Qing Dynasty and early Republican period, are
discussed in detail at Bamboo
Tallies
.

Bat
A picture of a
bat
(fu
蝠) can be a visual pun
for “good fortune” or happiness (fu 福) because
both characters are pronounced fu.  Often
the bat is shown flying upside down because the
character (dao
倒) for “upside-down” and the character (dao 到) meaning
“to have arrived” are both pronounced dao
Therefore, if a person were to say “the bat is
flying upside down” a listener could just as
easily hear this as “happiness has arrived” which,
of course, has a very auspicious
connotation.  (View charms with”upside down”
bat and eight

treasures, Zhong Kui,
Zhong KuiLiu Hai, and deer.)
Additionally, “a bat descending from the sky”
(fuzi tianlai
蝠子天来) sounds exactly like “happiness descends from
heaven” (fuzi
tianlai
福子天来).
Two bats facing each other mean double good fortune or
happiness.
Some charms display five bats
which stand for the “Five

Blessings“, namely longevity, wealth, health
and composure, virtue, and the desire to die a
natural death in old age.  (View five bat
charm
.)
A very popular design found in many traditional
Chinese houses consists of five bats surrounding
the Chinese character for “longevity” (shou
)
which represents the expression
wu fu peng shou (五
福捧寿) or “five fortunes surround longevity”. (See Chinese House
and Open Work
Charms
)

A Chinese charm or coin with a square
central hole is sometimes referred to as an “eye
coin” (yanqian
眼钱).  The Chinese word for coin or money (qian

钱)
is
pronounced the same as the word for “before” (qian
前).  Therefore, a picture of a bat (fu
蝠)

on (zai 在) an “eye coin”
(yanqian 眼钱) creates a visual pun
since saying there is a “bat on the coin” (fu zai yan qian)
sounds exactly like saying “happiness is before
your eyes” (fu
zai yan qian
).
Bats live in caves which represent portals to the
beyond.

Bear The bear (xiong 熊) is not
often depicted on Chinese charms and amulets but it is
a powerful animal that the Chinese believe can invoke
fear in evil spirits just as well as humans.
However, the bear is sometimes shown with an eagle because eagle or hawk (ying
) and bear (xiong
) together sound just like the word “hero”
(yingxiong
英雄).
Boar See entry for pig below.
Bran Bran (wheat bran) is
an auspicious fertility

symbol at marriages because its pronunciation (fu zi 麸子) sounds
the same as “rich son” (fu zi 富子) thus representing the wish
that the couple will produce children who will become
wealthy.

Buddha’s Hand See entry for citron below.
Butterfly
The butterfly is a
symbol of long life because the second character in
butterfly (hudie
蝴蝶) has exactly the same pronounciation as the
character 耋 (die) which means “70 or
80 years of age”.
The butterfly also signifies joy and warmth.
Cabbage The cabbage (baicai 白菜 or
qingcai 清菜)
is a symbol for wealth because it has the same
pronunciation as the word “money” or “wealth” (cai
财).
Calamus

(Sweet Flag)

Calamus (chang pu 菖蒲),
also known as “sweet flag”, is a plant with long and
stiff leaves which resemble swords.
Since swords provide protection,
hanging
calamus above gates and doors
is believed to
help protect from evil spirits, disease and
misfortune.
Carp
The carp
fish is a commonly seen visual pun because the
Chinese character for carp (li 鲤) is
pronounced the same as both the character (li 利) for
“profit” and the character (li 力) for
“strength” or “power”.
The carp is also a symbol for an abundance of
children because it produces many eggs.
A pair of carp symbolizes a harmonious marriage.
A frequently seen image is
of a carp swimming and leaping against the current of
a river to reach the spawning grounds.  This
refers to the legend (liyutiaolongmen 鲤鱼跳龙门) that a carp
which is able to leap over the mythical “Dragon
Gate
” will become a dragon

This is an allegory for the persistent effort needed
to overcome obstacles.
See a carp fish charm at Fish Charms.
The carp used for medicine was the quest in a
famous story of Wang

Xiang and filial piety.
See a reference to the carp/dragon allegory and
the horns of Kuixing (God
of Examinations) at Auspicious
Inscriptions
.
Additional
information can be found at the entry for fish below.

Cassia

(Cinnamon)

The cassia is an
evergreen plant with bright yellow flowers that is
sometimes incorrectly referred to as Chinese cinnamon.
The cassia is closely associated with the myth of Chang’e (“Moon
Goddess”) and the “Moon Hare” (“Jade Rabbit”)
.
In Chinese, cassia (gui
桂) has
the same pronunciation as the word for “high rank” (gui
贵).
Cassia and peaches together
represent “high rank” and “longevity”.
Cassia and seeds (lotus, pomegranate, gourd) together expresses the
desire for many sons who will achieve high office.
The cassia represents success in the
imperial examination system which is explained in
detail at Auspicious

Inscriptions.
See also “Cassia

and Orchid” Charm.

Castanets A symbol that
resembles an “X” is sometimes found on Chinese
charms.  This is actually a pair of wooden
clappers or castanets crossed one over the other.
The Chinese call these castanets or clappers yin yang ban
(阴阳板).
It is believed that castanets were originally derived
from the narrow tablet (hu 笏) that an official would carry
authorizing his access to the imperial palace. 
Depending upon rank, these tablets were made of jade,
ivory, bamboo and shark’s skin, or bamboo and jade.
The castanets are also the symbol associated with Cao
Guojiu (
曹 国舅),

one of the Eight Immortals.
A charm displaying a pair of castanets or yin yang ban may
be seen at Auspicious
Inscriptions
.

Cat The cat (mao 猫) symbolizes
wishes for a long life because it has the same
pronunciation as the word for an 80 year old or
“octogenarian” (mao
耄).
The cat is also the protector of silkworms because it can
ward off and kill mice and rats which attack these
producers of silk thread.
See the cat at The

Five Poisons.

Chestnut The Chinese word for
chestnut (lizi
栗子) sounds exactly like saying “establishing” (li 立) “sons” or
“children” (zi
子) and therefore is a good luck symbol for creating a
family.
The Chinese refer to the eight-sided holes found on
many Tang and Song Dynasty coins as flower or chestnut holes.
The first character in chestnut (li
栗)
sounds the same as “etiquette” or “manners” (li 礼) and
symbolizes those qualities in women.
Chopsticks Chopsticks (kuai zi 筷子) symbolize
the hope for newlyweds to have children quickly
because the pronunciation is the same as “fast” (kuai
快) “sons” (zi
子). (See Chinese Marriage.)
Chime Stone The chime stone (qing 磬) was a
percussion musical instrument in ancient China. 
Each chime stone was flat and shaped similar
to a chevron.  A small hole at the top center
allowed the stone to be hung from a frame.  The
musical instrument consisted of a set of 8 to 24 of
these chime stones with each tuned to a different
pitch.
  When struck with a mallet the
chime stone produced a musical sound.
Since many chime stones were made of jade, the chime
stone also symbolizes wealth and riches.
The stone chime
(qing 磬) has the same pronunciation,
and thus the hidden meaning, of to “congratulate”
(qing 庆).
The chime stone is also considered one of the Eight Treasures.
See a charm displaying a chime stone at Auspicious
Inscriptions
.
Chrysanthemum The chrysanthemum
signifies the tenth month of the lunar calendar.
The chrysanthemum, one of the Four Gentlemen, blooms
late and in facing the winter symbolizes people who
maintain their virtue despite adversity and
temptation.
Chrysanthemum (ju 菊) sometimes is a
symbol for “forever” (yongjiu
永久), and thus meaning “longevity”, because of the
similarity in pronunciation.  For the same
reason, the chrysanthemum can also stand for the
number “nine” (jiu
九).
See the chrysanthemum symbol on an unusual charm at Chinese Boy Charms.
Cicada
The cicada is a
symbol of rebirth and immortality because after
surviving underground for a long period of time it
emerges and flies into the sky.
Citron
or

Buddha’s Hand

The citron is a
bright yellow lemon-like fruit with a thick rind and
long finger-like tendrils.  Because it resembles
the familiar hand position of the Buddha, the citron
has the auspicious Chinese name of foshou (佛手) which
literally means “Buddha’s Hand”.
The name foshou
sounds very similar to the words fu (福 happiness)
and shou (寿
longevity) and therefore the citron is a symbol for
“happiness and longevity”.
The citron is one of the “Three

Abundances” (Three Plenties).

Clouds
Clouds, sometimes
referred to as “auspicious clouds” (xiangyun
云),
represent the heavens and also “good luck” because the
Chinese word for cloud (yun 云) is pronounced the same as yun (运) meaning
“luck” or “fortune”.
Its form often resembles the auspicious shape of the lingzhi
“fungus of immortality”.
The cloud is a commonly seen design and when repeated
in a pattern symbolizes never-ending fortune.
For a comprehensive discussion of the relationship of
the cloud, dragon, star, and moon symbols please visit
Charm Symbols:
Star, Moon, Cloud and Dragon
.
Auspicious clouds may be seen on coins and charms at
the following: Auspicious

Inscriptions, Chinese Coins
with Charm Features
, Buddhist
Charms
, Daoist
Charms
.

Coin Chinese coins are a
potent symbol of wealth and prosperity.
The coin is one of the “Eight

Treasures“.
Ancient Chinese coins are round with a square hole in
the middle which reflects the Chinese view of the earth as square and the
heavens as a circle
.
A coin (qian 钱) can be a visual pun for
“before your eyes” because the hole in the center is
called an “eye” and the coin (qian) has the
same pronunciation as the word “before” (qian
前).
An old word for coin is quan (
). 
A
pair
of
coins
is

shuang

quan (泉)

which has the same pronunciation as “both
complete” (shuang

quan
全).
See a charm incorporating a “pair of coins” as a
visual pun or rebus at Bagua
Charms
.

For a history, including images, of ancient Chinese
coins and other forms of money please visit Chinese Coins.

Coral Coral (shanhu 珊瑚) is

included as one of the Eight

Treasures and symbolizes longevity and official
promotion.
As a symbol of longevity, the Chinese have
traditionally believed that coral represents an “iron
tree” (tieshu
铁树) that grew under the sea and blossomed only once
every hundred years.
Red coral is considered particularly auspicious
because the Chinese believe the color red signifies
good luck, good fortune, and happiness. (See ribbons and fillets
for more about the color red.)
Coral resembles deer antlers and deer
are symbols of longevity.
Coral is also a symbol of official promotion because a
coral button on the hat identified one of the nine
grades of government officials.

Crab The Chinese word for
crab (蟹) and the Chinese word for harmony
(
协) are

both pronounced xie.  The crab
symbol is sometimes used on charms which
express a desire for peace such as the
large tian

xia tai ping (天
下太平)
charm
shown
at

Peace

Coins and Charms.
The
crab
is
also
used
to
symbolize
success
in
the

imperial

examination system.  This is
because the Chinese word for the crab’s
shell (jia
甲) has the additional meaning of “first”
as in achieving the highest score in the
examination to become a government
official.
An example of a charm depicting a crab
with this hidden meaning can be seen at Eight Treasures.

Crane
The crane (he 鹤) is believed
by the Chinese to live to a very old age and therefore
is a symbol of longevity.
The crane’s white feathers also represent old age.
A crane standing alone can represent success in
becoming a high government official as seen on a charm
at Pendant Charms.
To see a crane on other old charms please visit Daoist
(Taoist) Charms
and Auspicious

Inscriptions.
Myths describe spirits and immortals as riding on
cranes.
The souls of the dead are said to be carried to the
heavens by cranes.
The image of the crane was embroidered on the robes of
high government officials.
Because the pronunciation (he) is the same as that for the word
“harmony” (he
合), the crane is sometimes shown on charms to imply a
good and harmonious marriage.
(Nowadays, the “crane” is humorously referred to as
the “national bird of China”.  In this case,
however, the “crane” refers to the large machines used
to lift heavy objects to the top of buildings as part
of China’s major construction boom!)

Cypress Because the Chinese
word for cypress (bai
柏) is pronounced the same as the word for “one
hundred” (bai
百), the cypress is frequently paired with other
symbols to express “many” or “everything”.
Cypress leaves were used in traditional Chinese
weddings
.
Date The date fruit or
Chinese jujube (zao
枣) conveys the meaning that something is going to
happen soon because it has the same pronunciation as
the word for “early” or “soon” (zao 早).
For this reason, dates were placed on bridal beds and
the wood of the date tree was used to construct beds for children.
Deer
Deer

are among the most frequently seen animals on
charms.  The Chinese character for deer is 鹿
which is pronounced lu. 

The Chinese character 禄, which refers to the
salary a government official receives, is also
pronounced lu

A picture of a deer is therefore expressing a wish for
a top government office with a high salary.
The Chinese believe the deer lives to a very great age
and, as a result, has become a symbol for long life.
The deer is traditionally believed to be the only
animal able to find the magical lingzhi fungus
of immortality
.
The deer is often seen by the side of Shou, the God of Longevity.
The deer often is used as a verbal pun to refer to the
God of Prosperity
which has the same pronunciation (lu).
The deer as a symbol used on charms may be seen at the
following:  Men
Plow, Women Weave
, Eight

Treasures, and
Auspicious Inscriptions
.

Dog The dog (gou 狗) is one of
the twelve animals of the Chinese

zodiac.

Door

Gods

The Door Gods are
images of two warriors, Shen Tu and Yu Lei, which are
hung on gates or doors to protect against evil spirits
and misfortune.
See Peach Charms
for more information on the Door Gods.

Images of the Door Gods on the gate of a
traditional Chinese house may be seen at The Chinese House, Good
Fortune and Harmony with Nature
.
Dragon
The
dragon

(long 龙) is
one of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac.
The dragon is believed to live in the mountains or in
the seas and can fly into the heavens.
Unlike the dragons of Europe, the Chinese dragon
symbolizes benevolence, prosperity, longevity and the
renewal of life.
Ancient Chinese believed the dragon brought rain, good
harvests and fertility.
The dragon is the symbol

of the emperor when it has five claws.
The dragon is yang
and associated with the east and spring.
Conjoined dragon and phoenix represent the union of a
man and a woman.
For a more detailed discussion of the dragon symbol
please see yinyang
and the five elements as the basis for star, moon,
cloud and dragon symbols
.
Dragon charms with two dragons may be seen at: Open Work Charms
and Auspicious

Inscriptions.
Charms with a dragon and phoenix may be seen at: Marriage

Charms and Auspicious
Inscriptions
.

Dragonfly The dragonfly (qingting
蜻蜓) represents the Confucian
ideal of pureness of character because its
pronunciation is similar to the word for “pure” or
“clear” (qing 清).
The dragonfly also symbolizes the season of summer.
Ducks
(Mandarin

Ducks)

Mandarin ducks (yuanyang 鸳鸯 or xi )
are believed to mate for life and, therefore, a pair
of mandarin ducks symbolize fidelity, conjugal
affection, peace and prosperity.
Dumplings (jiaozi) Chinese dumplings
(with meat or vegetable stuffing) symbolize wealth or
riches because they are boat-shaped and thus resemble
the silver ingots or sycee used
in ancient China as money.
The word dumpling (jiaozi
饺子) has the same pronunciation as the first

paper money (jiaozi
交子) used in China which was during the early Song
Dynasty.
Ancient Chinese placed actual coins in dumplings with the wish
that whoever found the coins would enjoy prosperity
and good luck.

Jiaozi has
the
hidden
meaning
of
wishing
for
a
large
family
because

jiao (交)

means “to have sexual intercourse” and zi (子)
means “son” or “child”.
Dumplings stuffed with dates
express a hope for the “early” birth of sons.
Dumplings resemble the crescent moon
and a wish for a year of abundance.

Eagle

(Hawk)

The eagle or hawk (ying
鹰) symbolizes a “hero” (yingxiong
英雄) because the pronunciation is the same.
See also entry for bear above.
Egret See entry for heron below.
Eight

(8)

The number eight (ba
八) is the most auspicious number because its
pronunciation, particularly in southern dialects, is
very similar to “prosper” or “wealth” (fa cai
发财).
Eight Immortals The Eight Immortals
(八仙) are eight daoists who have attained immortality
and include:
1) Han Zhongli
(汉钟离),
also known as Zhongli Quan (锺离权), was

a Han Dynasty general and is usually shown carrying a
feather fan which he uses to revive the dead.

2) Lu Dongbin (
洞宾), known for his drinking and fighting abilities,
carries a demon-slaying sword

He also carries a fly whisk
which he uses to walk on clouds, fly to heaven, and
sweep away ignorance.

3) Zhang Guolao
(张果老) rides a donkey, sometimes seated backwards, and
carries a tube-shaped bamboo musical instrument called
a yugu (鱼鼓).

4) Li Tieguai (
铁拐), known as “Li with the iron crutch”, is a
crippled beggar who carries a gourd
filled with a magic elixir.

5) He Xiangu (何仙姑) is the only female in the group
and usually carries a kitchen ladle, lotus, peach
or fly whisk.  She
is known for her filial devotion, ability to
resolve domestic disputes and is seen as the
patron of household management.

6) Han Xiangzi (韩湘子) carries a flute and can
predict the future and make fruits and flowers
grow out of season.  He represents youth and
is seen as the patron of fortune-tellers.

7) Cao Guojiu (曹国舅) carries a ruyi
sceptre

or castanets which are
two long “clappers” thought to symbolize the
ceremonial tables required for admission to the
imperial court.  How he became an immortal is
described in the Ming Dynasty novel “Journey to the
West
“.

8) Lan Caihe (蓝采和), depicted as a male or female
or hermaphrodite, usually holds a fruit/flower
basket, a bowl or a flute and whose story is also
told in “Journey
to the West
“.

Eight Treasures
The “Eight Treasures” (babao 八宝), also
known as the “Eight Precious Things” and the “Eight
Auspicious Treasures”, may consist of eight ordinary
symbols, the eight precious organs of the Buddha’s
body, the eight auspicious signs, or the various
emblems of the eight
Taoist Immortals
.  The most commonly seen
members of the Eight Treasures include the coin, ruyi sceptre,
coral, chime

stone, lozenge, rhinoceros horn, silver ingot and the flaming pearl.
In Buddhism, the Eight
Treasures (Eight Auspicious Symbols) include the lotus (purity/enlightenment), Wheel
of the Dharma (knowledge)
, treasure vase
(wealth), conch shell (Buddha’s thoughts), victory
banner (Buddha’s teachings conquer all)
, endless
knot (harmony), parasol (protection) and fish pair
(happiness in marriage).

Elephant The elephant is
considered an auspicious animal because the Chinese
character for “elephant” (xiang 象) has the
same pronunciation as the Chinese word for
“auspicious” or “lucky” (xiang 祥).
The elephant is sometimes shown carrying a “treasure”
vase (bao ping
宝瓶) on its back.  Since the word “vase” (ping
) has the same pronunciation as
the word for “peace” (pingan

平 安), the implied meaning
is “may you have ‘good luck’ (elephant) and ‘peace’
(vase)”.
“Elephant Chess”
(xiangqi 象棋), also known
as “Chinese Chess”, is an ancient and popular board
game. (Ancient “elephant chess” pieces may be seen at
Old Chinese Chess Pieces“.)

Fish
The Chinese
character for fish (yu
鱼) is pronounced the same as the Chinese character for
“abundance” or “surplus” (yu 余).  The fish symbol is,
therefore, frequently associated with other symbols
and Chinese characters to symbolize the wish for
“more” in the sense of “more” good luck, good fortune,
long life and children. (Please see images at Ancient Chinese Fish Charms and
Chinese
Open Work Charms
.)
As an example, to express the wish for “having more
happiness year after year” a charm may use the Chinese
character 年 (nian)
for year, and also include a picture of a fish, a lotus and a magpie

The fish (yu
鱼) represents “more” (yu 余).  The character 莲 for lotus and
the character 连 meaning “in succession or one after
another”, as in expressing year after year, are both
pronounced lian.  The
magpie (xi que
喜鹊) is pronounced the same as happiness . So the fish,
lotus, magpie and the Chinese character 年 (year)
together would have the implied meaning of “more”
“happiness” “year after year”.
Because of its reproductive abilities, the fish also
represents fertility in marriage.
Two
fish
, or a pair of fish
(shuang yu 双鱼),
represent happiness in marriage.
While fish charms are fairly common, it is rare to
find a fish symbol on a real Chinese coin although one
can be seen at Ancient
Chinese Coins with Charm Features
.
See carp for additional
information on the fish symbol.

Five Blessings
(Happinesses, Good Fortunes)
According to the
ancient Chinese classic the “Book of History” (shujing 书经 or shangshu 尚书),
also known as the “Classic of History”, there are
“Five Blessings”
(wufu 五福), also known as
the “Five Happinesses” or “Five Good Fortunes”, which
refer to longevity (shou
寿), wealth (fu
富), health and
composure (kangning
康宁)
, virtue (xiu

hao de 修好德), and the desire to die a natural
death in old age (lao

zhong ming 考 终命).
Popular among the Chinese people is another set of
“five blessings” which consists of good fortune (fu 福), government
official salary (lu
禄), longevity (shou
寿), joy (xi 喜) and valuables or property (cai 财).
The “Five Blessings” can be represented by five bats
as seen at Gourd

Charms, Open
Work Charms
and Chinese House.
A charm with an inscription referring to the “Five
Blessings” may be seen at Auspicious
Inscriptions
.

Five Poisons
The five poisons (五毒),
also known as the “Five Poisonous Creatures”,
refer to five poisonous animals which usually
include
the snake, scorpion,
centipede, toad and spider.
Sometimes,
the

lizard replaces the spider.
The
three-legged toad
is frequently included as one of the
five.
The

Chinese believe the five
poisons counteract pernicious
influences by combating poison
with poison.

Fly

Whisk

The fly whisk is a
simple tool used to swat or sweep away flies.

The “fly whisk” became a symbol associated with
certain Daoist (Taoist) immortals and Buddhist deities
which was used to “sweep away” ignorance.

Lu Dongbin and
He Xianghu, both members of the Eight Immortals, are
frequently depicted as carrying a fly whisk.
Four Blessings
The “four
blessings” (si fu
四福) are happiness (xi
喜), salary of a high official (lu 禄), longevity
(shou 寿), and
good luck (good fortune) (fu 福).
Four Divine
Creatures
The Four Divine
Creatures, also known as the Four Heraldic Animals,
Four Directional Animals, and Four Symbols (si xiang 四象),
symbolize the four directions and an associated season
as follows:  Vermillion (Red) Bird (zhuque 朱雀) south
and summer;  White Tiger (baihu 白虎) west
and autumn;  Azure Dragon (qinglong
龙)

east and spring; black tortoise coiled
around by a snake
known as the Black Tortoise
(Black Warrior) (xuanwu
玄武) north and winter. (See also entries for “Tortoise” and “Snake
below)
A coin displaying the four directions and the 28
mansions associated with the Four Divine Creatures may
be seen at Chinese
Astronomy Coins
.

Four Gentlemen or Four
Plants of Virtue
The Four Gentlemen (sijunzi 四君子),
also known as the Four Plants of Virtue, include the plum, orchid,
bamboo and chrysanthemum.
Each of these plants represents one of the seasons.
The orchid represents spring. The bamboo represents
summer.  The chrysanthemum represents autumn and
the plum represents winter.
The four plants together represent a year.
The plum and bamboo together signify friendship. 

Four Happiness Boys A picture of two
boys joined in a clever way to give the illusion that
there are four boys.  This “good luck” picture is
frequently given to newlyweds with the wish that they
will have many children.  The story and history
is explained at “Four
Happiness

Boys“.

Four Happinesses The “Four
Happinesses” (si fu
四蝠) comes from a poem by Hong Mai (洪迈
1123-1202) of the Song Dynasty:
1) “Sweet rain after a long drought” (jiu han feng
gan yu
久旱逢甘雨)
2) “Meeting an old friend in a faraway place” (ta
xiang yu gu zhi
他乡遇故知)
3) “The wedding night” (literally: “the night of
lighting a candle in the bridal chamber” (dong
fang hua zhu ye
洞房花烛夜)
4) “Having one’s name on the list of successful
candidates of the imperial examination” (jin bang
ti ming shi
金榜题名时)
The “Four Happinesses” is the theme of this old
Chinese carved wooden window
.
Frog The frog (wa 蛙) is a symbol
of fertility because it has the same pronunciation as
the word for baby (wa
娃).
See also entry for toad.
Fu
Lu

Shou

Fu Lu Shou refers to
the three Chinese deities of the God of Happiness (Fu), the God of Prosperity (Lu), and
the God of Longevity (Shou).
A “Fu Lu Shou” charm may be seen at Lock Charms.
Fungus

(Lingzhi)
(Fungus of Immortality)

Lingzhi (灵芝),
also known as the glossy ganoderma, is the sacred
fungus of immortality that grows on the trunks or
roots of trees including the pine.
The lingzhi
does not decay like other fungus but instead becomes
woody and thus can survive for a long time.  For
this reason, it has become associated with longevity.
It was also believed to grow on the “Three Islands of
the Immortals” where immortals lived.
Deer are reputed to be the only
animals able to find lingzhi.  Deer and crane are sometimes shown holding
the lingzhi
in their mouth.
To see a charm depicting the lingzhi, deer and pine, please visit
Pendant Charms.

Goat The goat is a
reference to an ancient myth, discussed at Five Goat Coin,
concerning a great famine in Guangzhou (Canton),
Guangdong Province.
Please also see entry for sheep
below.
God
of

Examinations (Star of Literature)

Kuixing
(魁星) is known as the God of Examinations or the Star
of Literature.  He was considered to have been
influential in helping candidates pass the imperial
civil service examinations.
He is depicted as an ugly man (sometimes as a dwarf)
with short horns, and holding a writing brush in his right
hand and a scholar’s hat (or peck measure) in his
left.  He is usually standing on the head of a
large fish or a mythical turtle known as ao (鳌).
The horns on his head represent success by alluding to
the analogy of the carp

fish jumping over the mythical Dragon Gate and
turning into a dragon
.

God of Happiness (Fu), God of Luck,
God of Good Fortune and Blessings
Fu (福),
which means good luck, fortune, blessings and
happiness,

refers to the “God of Happiness” who was
originally a heavenly star known as the “Lucky
Star” (fuxing
星). 

He is also known as the “God of Good Fortune and
Blessings” and as the “God of Luck”.
Early Taoism (Daoism)
had three gods known as the “Three Officials” (sanguan 三官)
or “Three Immortals”.  One was named the “Heavenly
Official

who grants fortune” tianguancifu
(天官赐福) and it was he who later became better known
as the “God of Happiness”.
A “Fu Lu Shou” and “Three Immortals” charm is at Ancient
Chinese Lock Charms
.

God of Longevity (Shou)
Shou (寿),
also referred to as Shou Lao (
寿老),

the “Old Immortal of the South Pole” (nanjixianweng
南极仙翁), and the “Longevity Star” (shouxing 寿
星),
is the God of Longevity and is usually shown as a
smiling old gentleman with a prominent forehead
who holds a walking stick and carries a peach
(tao 桃)
As
his
name
implies,

Shou
symbolizes a long life.
Longevity was important to Confucians because
they believed that wisdom came with age.
Longevity was important to Taoists

(Daoists) because of their quest for
immortality.
Shou is
one of the “Three
Officials
(sanguan 三官)
along with the God of
Happiness (Fu)

and the God of
Prosperity (Lu)
.

See also Lock Charms.

God of Prosperity (Lu), God of Rank
and Emolument
Lu (禄),
also known as
the
God
of
Prosperity,

the God of Rank
and Emolument, and the God of High Ranking Office,
is usually shown holding a ruyi
(
如 意) which was

originally a short sword with a sword-guard used for
self-defense or gesturing but now symbolizes good
wishes (“may things go as you wish”) and
prosperity.  He is a member of the Three Officials, also
known as the Three Immortals.
He was originally a heavenly star known as the
“Prosperity Star” (
luxing 星)

and was believed to govern a person’s success in a
career.
The God of Prosperity is closely associated with
the auspicious saying “may office and salary be
bestowed upon you” (加

进禄).  Please see the four character charm at Auspicious

Inscriptions.
See also Lock
Charms

God of Thunder (Lei Gong) The God of Thunder (Lei Shen 雷神),
also known as the Duke of Thunder (Lei Gong

公),
is the Daoist god responsible for
punishing humans who have committed certain crimes and
evil spirits which have harmed humans.
He uses a drum to create thunder.
Lei Gong is portrayed as being half eagle, with wings
and a beak, and half human.
Many Daoist charms seek the
assistance of the God of Thunder in expelling evil
influences and spirits, and bringing good fortune.
God

of War (Guan Di
or Guan Gong)

Guan Di (关帝), also
known as Guan Gong (关公), is the Daoist God of War.
His real name was Guan Yu (关羽).
He was originally a beancurd seller who joined forces
with Liu Bei
(刘备) and became immortalized as a military
hero during the period of the Three Kingdoms
(220-280 AD).

The God of War fights evil and is usually shown
carrying a large broadsword.
A Qing
(Ch’ing)

Dynasty coin is believed to provide protection
from evil because one of the Manchu characters in its
inscription resembles the broadsword of the God of
War.

God of Wealth (Cai Shen) The God of Wealth (caishen 财神) is a
very popular Chinese deity whose presence is thought
to ensure wealth and success. He is depicted with a
long beard and wearing either an official’s gown or
military dress.  He is usually shown holding or
being surrounded by symbols of wealth such as coins,
ingots, coral, etc.  He is often shown holding a
sword in his right hand raised above his head and
wearing a distinctive hat with ear flaps.  He is
sometimes depicted as riding a black tiger.
A bamboo tally with an image of Cai Shen may be
seen at Bamboo Tallies.
Gods of Peace
and Harmony (Hehe
erxian
)
These twin laughing
immortals are known as the Gods of Peace and Harmony,
the Gods of Unity and Harmony, Hehe erxian (和合二仙), the
Laughing Twins and the Gods of Mirth.
One twin is named Shi De (拾得) who usually holds a
lotus.  The other twin is Han Shan (寒山) who may
hold a round box, ruyi sceptre,
gourd, coin,
persimmon, etc.
They represent harmony and mirth and bestow blessings
on marriages.
Goldfish The goldfish (jinyu 金鱼) is a
symbol for wealth because its first character (jin 金) means
“gold” and its second character (yu) sounds like
jade (yu 玉).
Goldfish also symbolize abundant wealth because the first
character (jin)
means gold and the second character (yu) has the same
pronunciation as the word for “abundance” or “surplus”
(yu 余).
See entry for fish above.
Gourd
The
gourd is popular as a charm symbol to ward off
evil spirits and disease because its first
character (hulu
)
has the same pronunciation as the word to
“protect” or “guard” (hu 护) and
also the word for “blessing” (hu
祜).
In some dialects, the
Chinese word for gourd (hulu 葫 芦) sounds the
same as fulu
(
福 禄) which

means “happiness and rank (as in attaining a
high government office)”.

Trailing
gourd
vines
are
described
in
Chinese
as

man
(蔓). This character can also be pronounced
as wan
and has the exact same pronunciation and
meaning as 万 which means “10,000”. 
Because the gourd contains many seeds, the
Chinese associate the gourd with “10,000
children”.  In ancient China, parents
hoped for many sons and grandsons so the
gourd became an important symbol for a
family with many children.
Additional information is provided at gourd charms.

Halberd
The halberd (ji 戟) is an
ancient Chinese infantry weapon consisting of a shaft
with a spear and/or crescent-shaped blade on one end.
The Chinese word for “halberd” (ji 戟) and the
Chinese word for “lucky” or “auspicious” (
吉)

are both pronounced ji.  A
halberd is a visual pun or rebus for “lucky” as can be
see on an old seal script charm at Auspicious

Inscriptions.
The Chinese word for “halberd” (ji
戟)
also has the same pronunciation, and thus is a pun,
for the word “rank” or “grade” (ji 级) as in
reference to an official position in the government.

Heron

(Egret)

The
heron or egret can represent a “path” or “way” because
the Chinese word lu (鹭)
has the same pronunciation as road or path (lu
路).
The heron or egret
(lu
鹭) can also symbolize wealth
because the pronunciation is the same as an
“official’s salary” (lu
禄).
Horse The horse (ma 马) is one of
the twelve animals of the Chinese

zodiac and symbolizes speed, power and
perseverance.
The horse is usually depicted as the bearer of good
things.  For example, a galloping horse with
several scrolls (the Yellow River Diagrams) tied on its
back represents the bringing of the origins of Chinese
culture to the legendary Chinese leader Fuxi.
The horse can be a symbol
for the Mongols
(Yuan Dynasty) because their
culture is strongly associated with the horse.
Please see Ancient Chinese Horse
Coins
for additional information.

Kitchen

God (Zaojun)

Zaojun (
君), also known as Zaowang (
灶王),
is the popular “Kitchen God” or “Stove God” in charge
of the household whose image is found in almost all
traditional Chinese homes.

Please see The Chinese
House
for a more detailed discussion of Zaojun.

Lion The lion is
considered to be a brave and intelligent animal and
thus symbolizes power and majesty.
The Chinese word for lion
(shi
) has the same pronunciation and
can be a visual pun or rebus for “teacher”, “master”,
“tutor” or “preceptor” (shi 师)
.
For this reason, the lion can symbolize a high
government official because in ancient times there
existed a
“Senior Grand Tutor” (tai shi 太师)
and a
“Junior Preceptor” (shao shi
师).
An example of such a lion charm may be seen at Open Work Charms.
In general, a stone or bronze lion outside a residence
or official building acts as a guardian protecting the
occupants from harm.  Usually, there is a pair of
lions with a male playing with a ball and a female
protecting her cub.  A pair of lions is
considered to be auspicious and symbolizes happiness
and the wish for a successful and prosperous career.
The lion dance (shiziwu
狮子舞) is an ancient and popular custom based on the
lion being considered an auspicious animal.  It
is believed that if a lion can be enticed to enter
one’s gate, the household will enjoy wealth and
treasures.
In Buddhism, the lion acts as a guardian of the faith
and a symbol of royal power.
Buddhist deities, such as Guanyin, are
sometimes shown riding a lion as a mount.

The lion can also represent the Buddha who, among his
repeated births, was born 10 times as a lion.
Liu Hai and Three-Legged (Golden)
Toad
Liu
Hai

(刘海) is one of the most popular members of the
Chinese pantheon of charm Taoist (Daoist)
figures and represents prosperity and wealth.
For detailed information concerning Liu Hai
and the Three-Legged (Golden) Toad please see
the entry for “toad” below
and also the web page Liu

Hai.

Longevity Stone
Longevity Stones are
strange-shaped rocks that are often shown next to the
fungus of immortality at the bottom of charms.
They convey the meaning of “long life” because of
their age.
Lotus
Because the Buddha
is often depicted as seated on a lotus, the lotus is
considered a sacred Buddhist
symbol (one of Eight
Auspicious Symbols
) representing purity and
detachment from worldly cares.
The lotus signifies the seventh month of the lunar
calendar.
The Chinese word for lotus is lianhua (莲花) or hehua (荷花). 

Lian is
also the pronunciation of the word for continuous
(连) and he
is also the pronunciation for the word harmony (和)
so the lotus has the hidden meaning of “continuous
harmony”.
A lotus stem and lotus pod shown together
symbolize marital harmony and sexual union.
Lotus seeds (lianzi
莲 籽) have the hidden
meaning of “continuous birth of children” because the
lian sounds
like “continuous”
(连) and the
zi has the
same pronunciation as the word for son or child (zi 子).

Examples of lotus charms
can be seen at Open Work
Charms
, Pendant

Charms, Lock

Charms, Marriage
Charms
, and Boy

Charms.

Lozenge A lozenge (fang sheng 方胜)
is one of the Eight
Treasures
and is considered a lucky object
although the actually origin is still unclear.
It has a diamond shape and two lozenges are frequently
interlocked to represent the form of an ancient
musical instrument.
It is said that this object was also used as a head
ornament in ancient times and symbolizes victory. Taoist (Daoist) legend has it
that the Queen

Mother of the West (xiwangmu 西王母)
wore such an object to exorcise evil spirits. 
(The legend further describes the Queen Mother of the
West as one who wore a heavy jade necklace, a dress
made of mulberry leaves, and had the teeth of a
tiger.)
Two diamond-shaped lozenges interlocked together can
represent two hearts joined together and acting with
one mind.
Lozenge charms may be seen at Eight

Treasures, Pendant
Charms
, and Coin
Inscriptions
.

Magpie
A magpie
(xi que
鹊)
is frequently used to symbolize
“happiness” because the first character
xi is the same
word as happy (xi
喜).  If the magpie is shown upside down, it means
happiness has “arrived” because the Chinese words for
“upside down” (倒) and “arrived” (到) are both
pronounced dao.
Two magpies facing each other symbolize “double
happiness” (shuang
xi
喜喜).  (See charm at Coin

Inscriptions.)
A pair of magpies also symbolize marriage
This

is based on an ancient legend concerning two heavenly
lovers, the

Oxherd and the Weaver Girl (Weaving
Maiden).  The two are separated for eternity
except for one day each year
(known as qixi 七夕, the
Double Seven, or Sisters Festival)
when
they are allowed to meet each other by crossing a
celestial river on a bridge made of magpies.

One can say “there is a happy bird (magpie) on the
tip of the plum branch” as xi shang mei shao
(喜上梅稍) which sounds exactly like saying xi shang mei shao
(
喜上眉稍) which means “happiness up
to one’s eyebrows”.  This expression means “very
happy”.
A charm illustrating this “happy expression” may be
seen at Pendant

Charms.
A charm at
Auspicious
Inscriptions
depicts a magpie, leopard
and pomegranates as
symbols with hidden meanings.

Mirror Mirrors in China
symbolize good fortune and are believed to protect
against evil spirits.
Traditional marriage
gifts
included a bronze mirror
(tongjing
铜镜)
and shoes (xie
鞋) because the words combined express “together
and in harmony”
(tongxie
同谐).
The mirror can be included as one of the Eight Treasures

(See Liu Hai
charm
.)
Bronze mirrors with Daoist “magic writing”
characters are discussed at Chinese

Daoist Mirrors.

Money Tree The Chinese “money
tree” (yao qian shu
摇钱树) is a legendary tree from which coins fall down
when shaken.
The legends, history, archaeological discoveries and
images of money trees are discussed in detail at Chinese Money Trees and Xian
Numismatic Museum
.
Monkey
The monkey (hou 猴) is one of
the twelve animals of the Chinese

zodiac.
The monkey is frequently seen as a visual pun for the
Chinese inscription ma

shang feng hou (马上风猴) where a monkey is shown
riding on a horse.  The
first two characters of the inscription (ma shang) mean
“on the horse” but also mean “at once”.  The
third character (feng
) means “wind” (breeze) but the Chinese for “to grant
a title” is also pronounced feng (封).  The fourth character
(hou) means
“monkey” but another character with the same
pronunciation (hou
侯) means “a marquis (i.e. a high official)”. 
Therefore the picture of a monkey on a horse is a
visual pun or rebus for the wish for an immediate
promotion in official rank.
A similar rebus consists of a monkey and a deer as can
be seen on a charm at Auspicious
Inscriptions.

The Monkey King
(
Sun Wukong 孙悟空) is a popular character in
the famous Ming Dynasty novel
the “Journey
to the West” (Xiyouji
西游记).

Moon For a comprehensive
discussion of the relationship of the moon, dragon,
star, and cloud symbols please visit Charm Symbols: Star,
Moon, Cloud and Dragon

A “moon” or
“crescent” is a symbol sometimes found on old Chinese
coins.
According to Chinese mythology, the Three-Legged Toad
lives on the moon.
According to Daoist legend, the “Moon Hare
(“Jade Rabbit”) that makes the elixir of immortality
lives on the moon.
Charms depicting the moon may be seen at Open Work
Charms
, Gourd
Charms
, Lock

Charms, and Auspicious

Inscriptions.
See also entry for pearl.

Mountain
Mountains (shan )
are the places closest to the gods and because of
their expanse and heights covey the meaning of
limitless.
Mugwort

(Artemisia Leaf)

The mugwort (ai 艾), also known
as artemisia leaf, is one of a larger group of objects
which can be a member of the Eight Treasures.
It is a symbol for longevity because of its medicinal
properties.
In ancient times, mugwort was attached
to doors and gates
because its ragged leaves
resemble tiger paws which were
believed to provide protection.
Its aroma is also believed to repel insects.
Narcissus Narcissus (shuixian 水仙)
literally means “water immortal”.
The flower is therefore a symbol for an immortal.
A typical rebus or visual pun might be an image of a
narcissus, a stone and
bamboo.  The meaning would
be “the immortals” (narcissus) “wish” ((bamboo (
zhu
竹)
wish (zhu
祝)) “you” a “long life” (longevity stone).
Nine

(9)

The number nine (9)
is considered lucky because the Chinese character for
nine (jiu 九)
has the same pronunciation as the word “forever” (jiu 久).
Nine (9) Similitudes The “nine
similitudes” is a reference from the “Book of Odes” (shijing 诗经) which
is the earliest collection of Chinese poetry and
includes poems, songs and hymns from the Zhou Dynasty
(1046-771 BC) and the Spring and Autumn Period
(770-476 BC).
The “nine similitudes” is now used as a greeting or
felicitous wish translated as follows:  “May you
be as the mountains and the
hills, as the greater and the lesser heights, as the
streams which flow in all directions, having the
constancy of the moon, like the
rising sun, with the longevity of the southern
mountain and the green luxuriance of the fir and the cypress.”
Onion The onion (cong
葱) is a visual pun for intelligence because it has the
same pronunciation as the word for “intelligent” or
“clever” (congming
聪明).
Orange Oranges symbolize
riches and good fortune because of their gold color.
Also, the chinese character for the orange is ju (桔) which is
composed of mu
(木), meaning “tree”, and ji (吉) meaning “lucky or
auspicious”.  The two components of the character
therefore imply that the orange is a “good luck”
fruit.
Orchid
The orchid is one of
the Four Gentlemen and
stands for humility, modesty, beauty and refinement.
See also “Cassia
and

Orchid” Charm.

Osmanthus An osmanthus blossom
(gui 桂) can
mean “honor” or “precious” because it has the same
pronunciation as the word “valuable” or “precious” (gui 贵).
Ox See entry for water buffalo.
Peach The peach (tao 桃) signifies

the second month of the lunar calendar.
The peach symbolizes marriage,
spring, justice and especially Daoist
immortality (longevity).
The peach is one of the Three

Abundances (Three Plenties).
See Chinese Peach Charms for
information concerning the mythology of the peach and
peach wood, and how it came to symbolize longevity.
Peach wood was also used to make swords,
arrows, and amulets in ancient times because
the

Chinese word for peach (tao 桃) has the same
pronunciation as the Chinese word for “flee” or “run
away” (tao 逃)
.

Peacock The peacock symbolizes

beauty and dignity as well as the desire for peace and
prosperity.
The ancient Chinese believed that one glance
from a peacock could make a woman pregnant.
Xi
Wang Mu
(西王母)
, the Queen
Mother of the West
, sometimes rode a peacock as
a means of transportation instead of a stork.
See Open Work
Charms
for an beautiful charm depicting a pair
of peacocks.

Peanut The peanut (huasheng 花生)
is an auspicious symbol because its second character (sheng
生) means to “give birth”.
The peanut thus symbolizes the wish for many children.
Pearl
(flaming

pearl)

Dragons
are often depicted as chasing a “pearl” like jewel
object.  The pearl may be thought of as a
metaphor for perfection and enlightenment,
particularly if the dragon represents the emperor.
The pearl also resembles the moon.
As a dragon devours the pearl, less and less of the
pearl is seen and the pearl appears as a waning
moon.  As a dragon disgorges the pearl, more and
more of the pearl is seen and the pearl therefore
appears as a waxing moon.  The dragon and pearl
thus symbolize the endless cycle of transformation.
Frequently, the “pearl” is shown with flames which
symbolizes magical powers and may represent the
wish-granting pearl of Buddhism.

The pearl can also refer to riches, pure intentions
and genius in obscurity.

The pearl (flaming pearl) is one of the Eight Treasures.
Charms with the pearl symbol may be seen at Eight

Treasures, Open
Work Charms
, and Auspicious

Inscriptions.

Peony
The tree peony or mudan (牡丹)
signifies the third month of the lunar calendar and
symbolizes longevity, loyalty, happiness and eternal
beauty.
Because of the way it sometimes grows as doubles, the
peony
appears

to the Chinese like strings of cash

coins and thus has come to symbolize
prosperity and wealth.
For this reason, another name for the peony is fuguihua
(富贵花) which means “flower of wealth and honor”.
A charm using the peony as a symbol for “wealth
and honor” may be seen at Auspicious

Inscriptions.
A peony in a vase
(ping
瓶)
has the hidden meaning
of  “wealth and honor” (peony) and “peace”
(because the vase is a rebus for “peace” (pingan

安).

For the mythology concerning the peony
please see Chinese
Open Work Charms
.

Persimmon
The persimmon (shi 柿) is
auspicious because of its round shape and brilliant
orange color.
The persimmon is used as a visual pun (rebus) because
it has the same pronunciation as the word for
“matters, affairs or events” (shi 事) and also the word for an
“official” or “gentleman” (shi 仕).
A persimmon (shi 柿) shown together
with an apple (
pingguo 苹果) forms the
rebus “may your matters
(shi 事) be

safe (pingan 平安)“.

Phoenix (fenghuang)
The Chinese phoenix
is a mythical bird known as the fenghuang (

凰) in Chinese.
Unlike the phoenix of the West, the Chinese phoenix
does not have the connotation of a bird rising from
ashes.
The Chinese phoenix symbolizes joy and peace.
It is believed that the phoenix only makes an
appearance during periods of prosperity, peace and
good government.
A dragon and phoenix shown together symbolize a happy
and harmonious union.
The phoenix is the yin equivalent of the dragon and is
associated with the south and summer.
The phoenix is also the symbol of the empress.
A very attractive double phoenix charm can be seen at
Chinese Open Work
Charms
.
Phoenix and dragon charms may be seen at Marriage

Charms, Auspicious

Inscriptions, and Unknown
Charms
.

Pig
(Boar)

(Hog)

The pig or boar (zhu 猪) is one of
the twelve animals of the Chinese

zodiac and traditionally symbolized the
prosperity and good fortune of a family that could
afford such a quality food source.
An old Chinese custom was to have young male children
wear hats and shoes in the shape
of a pig. Chinese parents believed this would avoid
misfortune since the evil spirits would be fooled into
thinking the child was actually a pig.

Pine
The pine tree (song 松) is a very
common symbol for longevity because it is an evergreen
and can endure severe winters.
The pine is a member of the Three

Friends in Winter.
The pine also symbolizes solitude.
The pine provides protection when planted near
graves.  This is because the mythical creature
Wang Xiang (罔象), who devours the brains of the dead,
is afraid of the pine.
A charm displaying the pine tree may be seen at Pendant Charms.

Plum The plum (mei 梅) signifies
the first month of the lunar calendar.
The plum symbolizes courage and hope because it
blossoms first and bravely stands against the dangers
of winter.
The plum tree is a member of the Three Friends in Winter.
The five petals of the
plum blossom symbolize the “five blessings” (wufu 五福),
also known as the “five happinesses” or “five good
fortunes”. These five blessings refer to longevity
(
寿),
wealth (富), health and composure (康宁), virtue
(修好德), and the desire to die a natural death in
old age (考 终命).
Charms displaying the plum symbol may be seen at Pendant

Charms, Boy
Charms
, and Lock Charms.

Pomegranate
The pomegranate (shiliu 石榴)
signifies the sixth month of the lunar calendar and,
because of its many seeds, represents fertility,
offspring and descendants.
For this reason, the pomegranate is an important
symbol in Chinese
marriages
.
The first character (shi
石) has the same pronunciation as the word for
“generations” (shi
世) and thus strengthens the meaning as generations of
descendants.
The pomegranate is a member of the Three Abundances (Three
Plenties).
A pomegranate charm can be seen at Auspicious

Inscriptions.

Pumpkin Pumpkin (nangua
瓜) sounds like “boy” (nan 男) and symbolizes the
wish for sons.
Quail
The quail (anchun
鹌鹑) signifies courage because of its fighting spirit.
The quail can also represent poverty.
The quail is often used as a visual pun (rebus)
because it is pronounced the same as the word for
“peace” (an 安).
Rabbit

(Hare)

The rabbit (tuzi 兔子) is one
of the twelve animals of the Chinese

zodiac.
The rabbit symbolizes longevity because of the Taoist (Daoist) legend of the
“moon hare”
that lives on the moon making
the

elixir of immortality.

Ram See entry for sheep below.
Rat The rat (laoshu 老鼠) is one
of the twelve animals of the Chinese

zodiac.
The rat symbolizes fertility, abundance and wealth
because of its reproductive abilities.

Reed Pipe A reed pipe (sheng 笙) has the
hidden meaning of “to give birth” because it has the
same pronunciation as the Chinese word “to give birth”
(sheng 生).
A reed pipe
(sheng 笙) can also mean “to rise” or
be promoted continually one rank after another because
it shares the same pronunication as the word “to rise”
(sheng 升).
Rhinoceros Horns A single or pair of
rhinoceros horns (xijiao
犀角) is usually included as one of the Eight Treasures
Rhino horns symbolize happiness because the first
character (xi
犀) is pronounced the same as the character
for happiness (xi
喜).
Charms with rhinoceros horns may be viewed at Eight

Treasures and Auspicious

Inscriptions.
A charm with the rhinoceros as its theme is discussed
in detail at Auspicious
Inscriptions
.

Ribbons and fillets
Chinese symbols are
frequently shown wrapped in ribbons which are also
referred to as fillets.  These ribbons add
importance to the power of the object they
surround.  The ribbons can be thought of as rays
or auras emanating from the object and symbolizing
miraculous powers.
The Chinese for ribbon is dai (带) which also has another
meaning of “to carry”.  Another Chinese character
with the same pronunciation (dai 代) means “generations”. 
When the ribbon is shown connecting two or more
auspicious objects, the hidden meaning of the ribbon
therefore is “to carry along (good luck, good fortune,
etc.) for generations”.
The Chinese word for a ribbon attached to a official
seal or medal is shou

dai (绶带).  Shou (绶) has the same
pronunciation as the word for “longevity” (shou
寿)

and since dai
(
带) is pronounced the
same as “generations” (dai
代), the hidden
meaning is “longevity for generations”.

Even though Chinese charms are
not able to display colors, the Chinese always use red
colored ribbons in real life.  Red (vermilion,
cinnabar) is the color representing joy and it is used
widely for marriages and
other festive occasions.  The Chinese word for
red is hong
(红).  Other Chinese words with the same
pronunciation include “great” (hong 宏) and
“vast” (hong
洪), so any object wrapped in a (red) ribbon would also
be enhanced through the phonetic pun of great and
vast.
Examples of charm symbols wrapped in ribbons can be
seen at Auspicious

Inscriptions, Bagua Charms,
and Coin

Inscriptions.

Rooster
The rooster or cock
is one of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac.
Roosters are believed to be able to scare away demons.
The Chinese for rooster (gongji
公鸡) is pronounced the same as “lucky” or “auspicious”
(ji
吉).
A crowing rooster (gong
ming
公 鸣) sounds like saying “merit and fame” (gong ming
功名).
A charm using the rooster to symbolize “lucky” and
“merit and fame” may be seen at Auspicious

Inscriptions.

Ruyi

or Sceptre

The ruyi (如意),
considered one of the Eight

Treasures, was a sceptre which represented power
and authority.
The ruyi was
originally
a
short

sword with a sword-guard used for
self-defense or gesturing.  There is some
speculation that it may have evolved from a back
scratcher.
The head of the ruyi
is similar to that of the lingzhi or
“fungus of immortality”
and the lotus.
The name “ruyi” is usually
translated as “as you wish” or “in accordance with
your desires”.
The ruyi now
symbolizes good wishes and prosperity.
The ruyi may
be seen on charms at Daoist
Charms
, Bagua Charms,
Auspicious

Inscriptions, and Pendant
Charms
.
The ruyi can
be seen on an old Chinese banknote at Chinese

Paper Money.

Saddle A horse saddle (an 鞍) is a symbol
for “peace” (an
安) because the pronunciation of the two words is the
same.
Sheep The sheep, ram or goat (yang 羊) is
one of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac.
The sheep (yang)
has the same pronunciation and therefore symbolizes
the male principle yang
in Yin Yang (

阳)
and also the “sun” (yang 阳).
Sheep kneel when they nurse which to Confucians
symbolize “filial

piety” as bowing to the mother.
Please also see entry for goat
above.

Shoes Shoes can symbolize
wealth because their shape is similar to silver ingots (sycee).
Shoes (xie 鞋), because of identical
pronunciation, are used in combination with other
objects to express “in harmony with” (xie
谐) or “together with” (xie 偕).
Visit Marriage Charms
to see how shoes and a mirror symbolize “together and
in harmony”.
The special shoes worn by women with bound feet were
called “lotus” (lian
)
shoes.  “Lotus” and “continuous” or “successive”
(lian
)
have the same pronunciation so “lotus” shoes symbolize
a fertility wish for bearing children one after
another.
Shrimp Shrimp (虾) are
considered to be auspicious because the pronunciation
in Mandarin (xia)
and Cantonese (ha)
is very similar to the sound of people laughing (ha ha
ha).
Silver Ingots (sycee) Silver became a
measure of value during the Yuan Dynasty
(1280 – 1368 AD) and therefore represents wealth.
The silver was moulded into boat-shaped or shoe-shaped
ingots called sycee
(细 丝) which could weigh from 1 to 100 ounces.
Sycee are
also known as “saddle sycee“, “silver sycee“, and
“drum-shaped sycee“.
Silver ingots or
sycee also symbolize official
office or rank because of a visual pun or rebus. 
Sycee are
also known as yuanbao
(元宝).  Yuan
(
元) can also refer to coming in first in
the examination

system.
Therefore, showing three (3) silver ingots or
sycee
has the hidden meaning of coming in first in all three of
the imperial examinations
.

Silver ingots are one of the Eight Treasures and
symbolize brightness and purity.
Silver ingots displayed as symbols on charms may be
seen at Eight

Treasures, Auspicious

Inscriptions, and Pendant
Charms
.

Six

(6)

The number six (6)
is considered lucky because the Chinese character for
six (liu 六)
has a similar pronunciation to the word “prosperity” (lu).
The number six (6), in its more formal written
form (liu
陆), coincidentally has exactly
the same pronunciation as prosperity
(lu)
when the character is used in a different context
(lu
陆)

such as a surname.
Because the pronunciation of six (6) (
liu 六) is
similar

to that of the word “to flow” (liu 流), it
symbolizes “to go smoothly”.  The Chinese
have the expression “Everything goes smoothly with
six” (liu liu da
shun
六六大顺). For this reason, major events
such as weddings, opening a new business, etc. are
held on the 6th day of the month.

Snake The snake (she 蛇) is a
member of the Chinese zodiac
and also a member of the “Five
Poisons
“.
In ancient times, snakes were believed to mate with
with tortoises.
Xuanwu, one
of the “Four Divine
Creatures
” also known as the Black Warrior, is
depicted as a tortoise with a snake entwined around
it.
See also Zhenwu.
The snake may be seen as charm symbol at the
following: Five Poisons,
Coin

Inscriptions, and Daoist
Charms
.

Spider The spider (zhizhu 蜘蛛) is one
of the five poisonous animals known as the “five poisons“.
Contrary to what one might expect, the “five poisons”
are a good thing in that they are believed to
counteract pernicious influences by combating poison with poison.
When not a member of the five poisons, the spider is
considered an auspicious symbol on its own. This is
because another word for spider in Chinese is xizi (虫喜
子) where the first character has the same
pronunciation as the word for “happy” (xi
喜).
A picture of a spider dropping down from its web is
thus a visual pun for “happiness dropping from the
sky”.
For the same reason, a spider signifies a wish to have
a son or child because zi (
子) means “son” and xizi thus sounds

like “happy son”.
The spider as a charm symbol may be seen at Chinese Five Poisons Charms
and Amulets
.

Star For a comprehensive
discussion of the relationship of the star, moon, cloud,
and dragon symbols please visit
Charm Symbols:
Star, Moon, Cloud and Dragon
.
“Stars” or dots are sometimes found on ancient Chinese coins
and examples may be seen at Emergence of Chinese
Charms
.
Star

Gods

The three Star Gods
consist of the “lucky star” (fuxing
星),
the
“prosperity
star” (
luxing 星)
and the
“longevity star” (shouxing 寿星).
These gods evolved into Fu (God of
Happiness)
, Lu (God of
Prosperity)
and Shou (God of
Longevity)
.
They are popular gods whose duties are,
respectively, to increase happiness, wealth and length
of life.
Stork The stork (guan 鹳) is
believed to live 1,000 years and is therefore a symbol
of longevity.
The stork is frequently shown together with pine trees which are another symbol
of longevity.
Storks are the means of transportation for both
the

Queen Mother
of the West (xiwangmu
西王母)
and
the “longevity star” (shouxing 寿星).
Because the word for stork (guan
)
sounds the same as the words for an “official” (guan 官), a
“hat” (guan
冠), and “first place” (guan
冠),

the stork also symbolizes promotion to a
government office.

Swallow
The swallow (yan 燕) is
associated with springtime and thus represents the
coming of good fortune and prosperous change.
Swallows are seen as bringing “new” to “old” because
they, in effect, make “repairs” by building their mud
nests in the cracks of walls and graves.
Swastika
The
swastika is a very old Asian symbol.
The swastika symbol in China represents the
Chinese character wan (万) meaning
“ten-thousand”.  The extended meaning of
wan (万) is

“all” such as “the myriad things” as used in the
Dao De Jing (道德经), the classic Taoist (Daoist)
text written by Lao-zi (老子)
.
The swastika as a charm symbol may be seen at Liu Hai and the
Three-Legged Toad
.
Chinese coins with the swastika symbol can be seen
at Chinese

Coins and Emergence of
Chinese Charms
.

Sword
Immortals and gods
use swords to cut through ignorance and evil.
The sword is the symbol of Lu Dongbin (

洞宾)
, one of the Eight

Immortals, and symbolizes victory over evil.
Zhong Kui
(钟
馗) was famous for having
a magical sword
that could slay evil spirits.
Taoist (Daoist) charms
displaying Lu Dongbin and Zhong Kui with their swords
can be seen by either clicking on the above links or
at Pendant
Charms
.
Please visit Swords and Amulets
for a detailed discussion of Chinese sword symbolism.

Teapot A teapot or pot (hu
壶) can convey the meaning of “to protect” (hu
护) or “blessing” (hu 祜) because the
characters share the same pronunciation.
 
Ten Symbols of
Longevity
The “Ten Symbols of
Longevity” or “Ten Longevities” (shi shou 十寿)
consist of the pine tree (song
松),

sun (ri 日), crane (he ), water
(shui 水), mountains (shan 山), clouds (
yun),

deer (lu 鹿), tortoise (gui ),

fungus of immortality (lingzhi
), and bamboo (zhu ).
All are traditional Chinese symbols representing a
long life.
The Ten Symbols of Longevity also became very popular
in ancient Korea as a theme for charms and other works
of art.

Three Abundances The Three Abundances
(sanduo 三多),
also known as the Three Plenties, consists of the peach (symbolizing longevity), the
pomegranate (symbolizing
descendants or progeny) and the citron
(symbolizing happiness and longevity).
Three Friends in Winter Because they all can
flourish during the winter, the pine,
plum tree and bamboo
are known as the Three Friends in Winter.
Three Many The “Three Many”
refers to the desire for more
happiness, longevity and children/grandchildren.
Three Officials
(Three Immortals)
The Three Officials,
also known as the Three Immortals, include the God of Happiness (Fu), the God of Prosperity (Lu) and the God of Longvevity (Shou).
A “Three Immortals” charm may be seen at Ancient Chinese
Lock Charms
.
Three Rounds The Three Rounds
refers to any grouping of three round objects.
The Chinese word for “round” (yuan 圆) is pronounced the same as
the word for “first” (yuan 元).  In this case, “first”
refers to being the top scholar in the imperial
examination system
.  With the addition of
the number “three” (san
三), the meaning is to come in first in all
three of the examinations
.
A charm illustrating the Three Rounds may be seen at
Auspicious
Inscriptions
.
Tiger

(leopard)

The tiger (hu 虎) is one of
the twelve animals of the Chinese

zodiac and is considered the ruler of the beasts
on Earth as opposed to the dragon which rules the
beasts in the sky and heavens.
The word for tiger (hu)
is also a pun because it has the same pronunciation as
the word “protect” (hu
护).
In ancient China, the tiger was the Guardian Spirit of
Agriculture which could devour the Drought Demon.
The God of Wealth
(caishen 财神)
is sometimes shown riding a black tiger.

Tigers appear on amulets because they are powerful
animals, symbolize heroism, and are believed to be
able to eat evil spirits, or at least cause them to
flee, and can in general protect people from
misfortune.
Tigers also are able to see well in the dark.
For these reasons, images of tigers and tiger’s heads
(see Peach Charms)
are considered particularly effective in protecting
children from malignant spirits.
Tigers also symbolize longevity because the
ancient Chinese believed tigers turned white after 500
years and could live for 1,000 years.  Upon
death, their spirits entered the earth and became
amber.
An example of a charm displaying a tiger can
be seen at the Five

Poisons.

Toad
The Chinese for
“toad” is pronounced chanchu (蟾蜍), sometimes shortened to
just chan
(蟾).
In some Chinese dialects the pronunciation of “toad” (chan) is very
similar to that for “coin” (qian 钱).
Liu Hai and the Three-Legged
Toad
is a story involving a play on these
similar-sounding words.
See also entry for frog.
Tortoise
The
tortoise (gui
龟) has a long life-span and is, therefore, a
natural symbol for longevity.
The tortoise also represents strength and
endurance.
The tortoise is associated with the north and
winter. (See entries for Four Divine
Creatures
, snake and
Zhenwu for information on
Xuanwu
(玄 武), the
tortoise encircled by a snake.
)
The  physical appearance of the tortoise
resembles the Chinese view of the universe in that
it has a round domed outer shell like the vault of
heaven and its lower body is flat like the
earth.  Its shell was used in very ancient
times in divination.
Charms displaying a tortoise can be seen at Daoist

Charms and Auspicious

Inscriptions.

Treasure Bowl The Chinese
“treasure bowl” (ju
bao pen
聚宝盆), also known as the
“treasure basin”, is a magical container which can
create unlimited riches.  By placing a gold coin
inside the “treasure bowl”, for example, the bowl will
suddenly be filled with gold coins.
Treasure bowl stories can be traced back to ancient
times.
A charm displaying a “treasure bowl” is discussed in
detail at Chinese

Treasure Bowl Charm.

Twelve Imperial
Symbols
According to the
ancient Book of Rites (liji 礼记), twelve is the number of
Heaven.  Therefore, there are Twelve Imperial
Symbols, also known as Twelve Symbols of Imperial
Authority, associated with the emperor who is the Son
of Heaven.
The twelve symbols include the sun (sometimes
represented as a three-legged bird in a red disk); the
moon (sometimes represented as a rabbit or hare in a green-white
disk); stars (sometimes
represented by the “big
dipper” constellation
or simply three small
circles); mountains
(symbolizing stability and “earth” of the five elements);
a pair of five-clawed dragons
(representing beasts); a pheasant (representing
birds); the fu
(黻) symbol which looks like back-to-back bows and
symbolizes “good and evil” (and is also the alleged
source of the yin yang symbol);

the axe head (fu 斧)
(symbolizing the power to make decisions and punish);
a pair of goblets (representing “metal” of the five
elements); grain or millet (representing “wood” of the
five elements); aquatic grass (representing “water” of
the five elements); and red flames (representing
“fire” of the five elements).
The famous Chinese writer Lu Xun (
鲁迅)
incorporated the “Twelve Symbols” into a design
intended to be the national emblem and which was also
used on a
Chinese coin
.

Unicorn
(Chinese Unicorn)
The qilin (
麟)
or Chinese unicorn represents
good luck , prosperity, goodwill and benevolence.
It is described as having a deer’s body, an ox’s
tail, fish scales, five-toed hoofed feet and a
horn on its head.
The qilin
is associated with sages and excellent rulers, and is believed
to appear when a new sage is born as was the case
with Confucius.
(See Confucian Charms).
It is associated with the west and autumn.

A charm with a qilin
can be see at Open

Work Charms.
A charm showing a qilin
delivering a boy child can be viewed at Pendant Charms.

Vase
or

Bottle

A picture of a
bottle or vase can represent the meaning of “peace” or
“safety” because both the character for vase (ping
瓶) and that for peace (pingan 平安) are
pronounced ping.
A vase (
ping
瓶)
with flowers from all four seasons (siji 四季) conveys
the hidden meaning of peace for all the year (sijipingan

平 安).
Water Buffalo (Ox) The ox is one of the
twelve animals of the Chinese
zodiac
.

A charm with the inscription in Daoist magic
writing, displaying an ox and a star god (star
official), may be seen at Daoist (Taoist)
Charms
.

A charm showing a boy riding an ox which represents
the early humble beginnings of Emperor Tai Zu of the
Ming Dynasty may be seen at Chinese Charms
with Coin Inscriptions
.

Because of their importance to agriculture, the
water buffalo or ox (niu
牛) symbolizes springtime, harvest and fertility.
To city dwellers and government officials, the water
buffalo also represents a simple and idyllic life.
(For an interesting story concerning the “Wu buffalo
gasping at the moon” please see
Auspicious

Inscriptions.)

Willow
The willow (liu 柳) is
associated with the life of scholars and poets who
drew inspiration while strolling among them.
Its branches were considered magical and were used in
exorcisms and in “sweeping tombs” during the Qingming
Festival (清明节) also known as “Festival of the
Tombs”.  On this day, young men also wore green
willow branches in their hair in the belief that it
would prevent them from being changed into a brown dog
in a future existence.
Because of similarity in pronunciation to the Chinese
word “to part” (li
离), willow branches also represent parting and sorrow
since they were traditionally given to friends
departing for distant lands.
Writing Brush and Silver
Ingot
To express the hope
that “things will certainly go according to your
wishes”, a charm can have the Chinese characters (如意)
for “as you wish” but may also depict a writing brush
and a silver ingot or sycee (细
丝) (a saddle-shaped silver ingot used for money in
ancient China).
This is because the characters for “brush” (bi 笔) and “ingot”
(ding 锭) said
together are “bi
ding
” which is the same pronunciation as the
characters 必定 (bi
ding
) for “certainly”.
Yinyang

(Taiji)

Yin Yang (
阳)
is the Chinese term
for the basic polarities of the universe, e.g.
male/female, light/dark, strong/weak, etc.
The “supreme ultimate” symbol, known as taiji (太极), is a
circle with an S-shaped curve separating it into two
equal halves.  One half represents yin and the other
half represents yang.
In the center of each half is a small circle which
represents the other half.
A representative charm with the taiji symbol can be
seen at the Book of
Changes and Bagua
.
Zhenwu The Daoist god Zhenwu (真武), also
known as the Perfected Warrior, evolved over the
centuries from Xuanwu
(玄 武) which was a tortoise encircled by a snake that represented the north.
(See also entry for Four

Divine Creatures.)
Zhenwu is associated with healing and protection.
Zhenwu can be seen portrayed on a charm at Daoist (Taoist)
Charms
.

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