… Kultur & Sprache
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.
|Kategorien||木 Holz / Blau||火 Feuer / Rot||土 Erde / Gelb||金 Metall / Grau||水 Wasser / Schwarz|
|Die natürliche Welt|
|23 bis 1 Uhr
|11 bis 13 Uhr
(Yin) Kaiserliches Feuer
19 bis 21 Uhr
(Yin) Ministerielles Feuer
|7 bis 9 Uhr
|3 bis 5 Uhr
|15 bis 17 Uhr
|1 bis 3 Uhr
|13 bis 15 Uhr
(Yang) Kaiserliches Feuer
21 bis 23 Uhr
(Yang) Ministerielles Feuer
|9 bis 11 Uhr
|5 bis 7 Uhr
|17 bis 19 Uhr
|Fünf Wandlungsphasen||schwaches Yang||starkes Yang||Ausgeglichenheit||schwaches Yin||starkes Yin|
|Fünf geometrische Formen||Zylinder||Pyramide||Quader||Kuppel||irregulär|
|Fünf Tiere||Drache||Feng Huang||Qilin||Tiger||Schildkröte|
|Der Mensch (menschlicher Körper) – TCM|
|Fünf Körpergewebe||Sehne||Blutgefäße||Muskeln||Haut und Haar||Knochen|
|Fünf Lebensalter||Geburt und
Genuss der Ernte
|Zehn (=2·5) Himmelsstämme||甲 jiă
|Acht Trigramme||☴ 巽 xùn
☳ 震 zhèn
|☲ 離 lí||☷ 坤 kūn
☶ 艮 gèn
|☰ 乾 qián
☱ 兌 duì
|☵ 坎 kǎn|
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.
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.
pin1yin1 to pīnyīn converter:
(enter text like pin1yin1, hit submit and receiver text like pīnyīn)
The Birthday Song is sung in many languages, including Mandarin Chinese.
shēng rì kuài lè
zhù nǐ shēng rì kuài lè
Wish to you happy birthday
Wish to you happy birthday
Wish to you happy birthday
Wish to you happiness forever
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
||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
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.
|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
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.
symbolizes the ideals of a Confucian
scholar because both are perceived as upright, strong
and resilient while still being gentle, graceful and
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 空虚),
bamboo also symbolizes “modesty” (qianxu 谦虚)
||A picture of a
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
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 Kui, Liu Hai, and deer.)
Additionally, “a bat descending from the sky” (fuzi tianlai
蝠子天来) sounds exactly like “happiness descends from
Two bats facing each other mean double good fortune or
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
A very popular design found in many traditional
Chinese houses consists of five bats surrounding
the Chinese character for “longevity” (shou壽)
which represents the expression wu fu peng shou (五
福捧寿) or “five fortunes surround longevity”. (See Chinese House
and Open Work
A Chinese charm or coin with a square
central hole is sometimes referred to as an “eye
眼钱). The Chinese word for coin or money (qian
pronounced the same as the word for “before” (qian
前). Therefore, a picture of a bat (fu 蝠)
on (zai 在) an “eye coin”
|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
鹰) and bear (xiong
熊) together sound just like the word “hero”
|Boar||See entry for pig below.|
|Bran||Bran (wheat bran) is
an auspicious fertility
symbol at marriagesbecause 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
|Buddha’s Hand||See entry for citron below.
||The butterfly is a
symbol of long life because the second character in
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
is a symbol for wealth because it has the same
pronunciation as the word “money” or “wealth” (cai
|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,
calamus above gates and doors is believed to
help protect from evil spirits, disease and
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.
Xiang and filial piety.
|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
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
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
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),
|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
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
|Chestnut||The Chinese word for
栗子) sounds exactly like saying “establishing” (li 立) “sons” or
子) and therefore is a good luck symbol for creating a
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
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
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
See the chrysanthemum symbol on an unusual charm at Chinese Boy Charms.
||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.
|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).
referred to as “auspicious clouds” (xiangyun 祥云),
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
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
|Coin||Chinese coins are a
potent symbol of wealth and prosperity.
The coin is one of the “Eight
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
An old word for coin is quan (泉).
which has the same pronunciation as “both
|Coral||Coral (shanhu 珊瑚) is
included as one of the Eight
Treasures and symbolizes longevity and official
|Crab||The Chinese word for
crab (蟹) and the Chinese word for harmony
both pronounced xie. The crab
xia tai ping (天
Coins and Charms.
examination system. This is
||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
Myths describe spirits and immortals as riding on
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
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
百), the cypress is frequently paired with other
symbols to express “many” or “everything”.
Cypress leaves were used in traditional Chinese
|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.
are among the most frequently seen animals on
The Chinese character 禄, which refers to the
A picture of a deer is therefore expressing a wish for
|Dog||The dog (gou 狗) is one of
the twelve animals of the Chinese
|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
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.
(long 龙) is
of the emperor when it has five claws.
Charms and Auspicious
|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.
|Mandarin ducks (yuanyang 鸳鸯 or xi 鸂)
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
交子) used in China which was during the early Song
Ancient Chinese placed actual coins in dumplings with the wish
that whoever found the coins would enjoy prosperity
and good luck.
means “to have sexual intercourse” and zi (子)
|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.|
|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
|Eight Immortals||The Eight Immortals
(八仙) are eight daoists who have attained immortality
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
He also carries a fly whisk
3) Zhang Guolao
5) He Xiangu (何仙姑) is the only female in the group
6) Han Xiangzi (韩湘子) carries a flute and can
7) Cao Guojiu (曹国舅) carries a ruyi
8) Lan Caihe (蓝采和), depicted as a male or female
||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,
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
瓶) has the same pronunciation as
the word for “peace” (pingan
平 安), the implied meaning
is “may you have ‘good luck’ (elephant) and ‘peace’
“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“.)
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
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
(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
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
Work Charms and Chinese House.
A charm with an inscription referring to the “Five
Blessings” may be seen at Auspicious
||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.
lizard replaces the spider.
Chinese believe the five
|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.
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).
|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 青龙)
east and spring; black tortoise coiled
|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
|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
See also entry for toad.
|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.
also known as the glossy ganoderma, is the sacred
fungus of immortality that grows on the trunks or
roots of trees including the pine.
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
in their mouth.
To see a charm depicting the lingzhi, deer and pine, please visit
|Goat||The goat is a
reference to an ancient myth, discussed at Five Goat Coin,
concerning a great famine in Guangzhou (Canton),
Please also see entry for sheep
Examinations (Star of Literature)
(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
|God of Happiness (Fu), God of Luck,
God of Good Fortune and Blessings
which means good luck, fortune, blessings and
refers to the “God of Happiness” who was
originally a heavenly star known as the “Lucky
Star” (fuxing 福星).
He is also known as the “God of Good Fortune and
who grants fortune” tianguancifu
|God of Longevity (Shou)
also referred to as Shou Lao (寿老),
the “Old Immortal of the South Pole” (nanjixianweng
|God of Prosperity (Lu), God of Rank
also known as the
the God of Rank
originally a short sword with a sword-guard used for
and was believed to govern a person’s success in a
|God of Thunder (Lei Gong)||The God of Thunder (Lei Shen 雷神),
also known as the Duke of Thunder (Lei Gong 雷
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.
of War (Guan Di
|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
The God of War fights evil and is usually shown
carrying a large broadsword.
Dynasty coinis believed to provide protection
from evil because one of the Manchu characters in its
inscription resembles the broadsword of the God of
|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
|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,
They represent harmony and mirth and bestow blessings
|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
means gold and the second character (yu) has the same
pronunciation as the word for “abundance” or “surplus”
See entry for fish above.
gourd is popular as a charm symbol to ward off
evil spirits and disease because its first
has the same pronunciation as the word to
“protect” or “guard” (hu 护) and
also the word for “blessing” (hu
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
||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
heron or egret can represent a “path” or “way” because
the Chinese word lu (鹭)
has the same pronunciation as road or path (lu
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
zodiacand symbolizes speed, power and
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.
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
|Lion||The lion is
considered to be a brave and intelligent animal and
thus symbolizes power and majesty.
The Chinese word for lion (shi
狮) 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 少
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
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)
(刘海) is one of the most popular members of the
||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
||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
The Chinese word for lotus is lianhua (莲花) or hehua (荷花).
|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
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
Two diamond-shaped lozenges interlocked together can
represent two hearts joined together and acting with
Lozenge charms may be seen at Eight
Charms, and Coin
(xi que 喜
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
Two magpies facing each other symbolize “double
xi 喜喜). (See charm at Coin
A pair of magpies also symbolize marriage. This
is based on an ancient legend concerning two heavenly
Oxherd and the Weaver Girl (Weaving
|Mirror||Mirrors in China
symbolize good fortune and are believed to protect
against evil spirits.
gifts included a bronze mirror (tongjing
铜镜) and shoes (xie
鞋) because the words combined express “together
and in harmony” (tongxie
The mirror can be included as one of the Eight Treasures.
|Money Tree||The Chinese “money
tree” (yao qian shu
摇钱树) is a legendary tree from which coins fall down
The legends, history, archaeological discoveries and
images of money trees are discussed in detail at Chinese Money Trees and Xian
||The monkey (hou 猴) is one of
the twelve animals of the Chinese
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
“monkey” but another character with the same
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
The Monkey King
(Sun Wukong 孙悟空) is a popular character in
the famous Ming Dynasty novel the “Journey
to the West” (Xiyouji
|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
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, and Auspicious
See also entry for pearl.
||Mountains (shan 山)
are the places closest to the gods and because of
their expanse and heights covey the meaning of
|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
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).
|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
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
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”
||The orchid is one of
the Four Gentlemen and
stands for humility, modesty, beauty and refinement.
See also “Cassia
|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
Abundances (Three Plenties).
Chinese word for peach (tao 桃) has the same
|Peacock||The peacock symbolizes
beauty and dignity as well as the desire for peace and
|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.
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
Work Charms, and Auspicious
||The tree peony or mudan (牡丹)
signifies the third month of the lunar calendar and
symbolizes longevity, loyalty, happiness and eternal
Because of the way it sometimes grows as doubles, the
to the Chinese like strings of cash
coins and thus has come to symbolize
||The persimmon (shi 柿) is
auspicious because of its round shape and brilliant
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)“.
||The Chinese phoenix
is a mythical bird known as the fenghuang (凤
凰) in Chinese.
Unlike the phoenix of the West, the Chinese phoenix
does not have the connotation of a bird rising from
The Chinese phoenix symbolizes joy and peace.
It is believed that the phoenix only makes an
appearance during periods of prosperity, peace and
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
Phoenix and dragon charms may be seen at Marriage
Inscriptions, and Unknown
|The pig or boar (zhu 猪) is one of
the twelve animals of the Chinese
zodiacand 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.
||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
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
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, and Lock Charms.
||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
The first character (shi
石) has the same pronunciation as the word for
世) and thus strengthens the meaning as generations of
The pomegranate is a member of the Three Abundances (Three
A pomegranate charm can be seen at Auspicious
|Pumpkin||Pumpkin (nangua 南
瓜) sounds like “boy” (nan 男) and symbolizes the
wish for sons.
||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).
|The rabbit (tuzi 兔子) is one
of the twelve animals of the Chinese
The rabbit symbolizes longevity because of the Taoist (Daoist) legend of the
that lives on the moon making
elixir of immortality.
|Ram||See entry for sheep below.|
|Rat||The rat (laoshu 老鼠) is one
of the twelve animals of the Chinese
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”
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”
|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
犀) is pronounced the same as the character
for happiness (xi
Charms with rhinoceros horns may be viewed at Eight
A charm with the rhinoceros as its theme is discussed
in detail at Auspicious
|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
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
||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”
A crowing rooster (gong
公 鸣) sounds like saying “merit and fame” (gong ming
A charm using the rooster to symbolize “lucky” and
“merit and fame” may be seen at Auspicious
|The ruyi (如意),
considered one of the Eight
Treasures, was a sceptre which represented power
The ruyi was
sword with a sword-guard used for
|Saddle||A horse saddle (an 鞍) is a symbol
for “peace” (an
安) because the pronunciation of the two words is the
|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 (阴
阳) and also the “sun” (yang 阳).
Sheep kneel when they nurse which to Confucians
piety” as bowing to the mother.
Please also see entry for goat
|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
The special shoes worn by women with bound feet were
called “lotus” (lian 莲)
shoes. “Lotus” and “continuous” or “successive”
have the same pronunciation so “lotus” shoes symbolize
a fertility wish for bearing children one after
|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
|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.
also known as “saddle sycee“, “silver sycee“, and
Silver ingots or sycee also symbolize official
office or rank because of a visual pun or rebus.
also known as yuanbao
(元) can also refer to coming in first in
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
Inscriptions, and Pendant
|The number six (6)
is considered lucky because the Chinese character for
six (liu 六)
has a similar pronunciation to the word “prosperity” (lu 禄).
The number six (6), in its more formal written
陆), coincidentally has exactly
the same pronunciation as prosperity (lu 禄)
when the character is used in a different context
such as a surname.
to that of the word “to flow” (liu 流), it
|Snake||The snake (she 蛇) is a
member of the Chinese zodiac
and also a member of the “Five
In ancient times, snakes were believed to mate with
of the “Four Divine
Creatures” also known as the Black Warrior, is
depicted as a tortoise with a snake entwined around
See also Zhenwu.
The snake may be seen as charm symbol at the
following: Five Poisons,
Inscriptions, and Daoist
|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
A picture of a spider dropping down from its web is
thus a visual pun for “happiness dropping from the
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”.
|Star||For a comprehensive
discussion of the relationship of the star, moon, cloud,
and dragon symbols please visit
Star, Moon, Cloud and Dragon.
“Stars” or dots are sometimes found on ancient Chinese coins
and examples may be seen at Emergence of Chinese
|The three Star Gods
consist of the “lucky star” (fuxing 福星),
star” (luxing 禄星)
and the “longevity star” (shouxing 寿星).
These gods evolved into Fu (God of
Happiness), Lu (God of
Prosperity) and Shou (God of
They are popular gods whose duties are,
respectively, to increase happiness, wealth and length
|Stork||The stork (guan 鹳) is
believed to live 1,000 years and is therefore a symbol
The stork is frequently shown together with pine trees which are another symbol
Storks are the means of transportation for both the
the stork also symbolizes promotion to a
||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 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
Coins and Emergence of
||Immortals and gods
use swords to cut through ignorance and evil.
The sword is the symbol of Lu Dongbin (吕
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
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
|The “Ten Symbols of
Longevity” or “Ten Longevities” (shi shou 十寿)
consist of the pine tree (song 松),
fungus of immortality (lingzhi 灵
|Three Abundances||The Three Abundances
also known as the Three Plenties, consists of the peach (symbolizing longevity), the
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.
|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
|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
|The tiger (hu 虎) is one of
the twelve animals of the Chinese
zodiacand 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
In ancient China, the tiger was the Guardian Spirit of
Agriculture which could devour the Drought Demon.
The God of Wealth
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
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
An example of a charm displaying a tiger can
be seen at the Five
||The Chinese for
“toad” is pronounced chanchu (蟾蜍), sometimes shortened to
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
See also entry for frog.
龟) has a long life-span and is, therefore, a
natural symbol for longevity.
The tortoise also represents strength and
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
|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
A charm displaying a “treasure bowl” is discussed in
detail at Chinese
Treasure Bowl Charm.
|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
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
(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)
|The qilin (麒
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.
is associated with sages and excellent rulers, and is believed
to appear when a new sage is born as was the case
(See Confucian Charms).
It is associated with the west and autumn.
A charm with a qilin
can be see at Open
A charm showing a qilin
delivering a boy child can be viewed at Pendant Charms.
|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
A vase (ping
瓶) with flowers from all four seasons (siji 四季) conveys
the hidden meaning of peace for all the year (sijipingan 四
|Water Buffalo (Ox)||The ox is one of the
twelve animals of the Chinese
A charm with the inscription in Daoist magic
writing, displaying an ox and a star god (star
official), may be seen at Daoist (Taoist)
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
||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
|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
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”.
|Yin Yang (阴
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
Zhenwu is associated with healing and protection.
Zhenwu can be seen portrayed on a charm at Daoist (Taoist)