CHARM BRACELETThe charm bracelets consist of three bronze charms, a jade charm, and three glass beads, strung on thin black cord and secured with a slider made of two amber-yellow beads. There are many variants, but here are some of the typical charms found on them.

The bronze charms:

  • replica of a Sung dynasty coin — to attract money
  • bell — good fortune and health
  • peach, covered with writing — longevity
  • heart with Chinese writing — love (Western)
  • Eight I Ching trigrams and yin-yang — cosmic wisdom
  • Eight-scalloped plaque with Chinese wiriting — probably Buddhist
  • Disk with Chinese writing — unknown

The jade charms:

  • money bag — to attract money
  • cross — Chistian faith (Western)
  • turtle — longevity
  • frog — fertility
  • ring — faithfulness (Western)

Obviously some of the items on these bracelets are not strictly Chinese, and seem to have been made for the American market. Comments on a few of them follow:

The peach: The use of the peach (specifically, the white peach, not the common yellow peach) as a symbol of long life is unique to Chinese culture. In fact, the use of talismans to ensure long life is peculiar to Asian cultures, Asia being one of the few regions of the world in which great age automatically confers great respect from society.

The bell: In Semitic/European-influenced cultures that have a belief in the evil eye, the bell is an apotropaic charm against the eye, especially when put on horse harnesses, but China, like the rest of Asia, has no indigenous evil eye belief, hence the bell is used for another purpose, unknown to me.

The Money Bag and Coin: The coin is a universal lucky charm to attract wealth. The carved jade money bag is specifically a Chinese symbol, but it is reminiscent of the use of American-style money bag images on hoodoo products such as Double Fast Luck Soap and Lama Temple votive candles. The lucky bag of money is also alluded to indirectly in the miniature bags decorated with a horseshoe and lodestone in Peruvian package amulets and the sawdust stuffed money bag to which is glued a saint card image of San Martin Caballero in the Mexican package amulet called El Secreto de la Virtuosa Herradura.


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