Ancient Chinese Charm coin Liu Hai and the Three-Legged Toad

Ancient Chinese Charm coin

Liu Hai and the Three-Legged Toad


Size: 44 mm; Weight: 29 grams; Material: Copper Alloy


一 團和气

Obverse appears to show a portrait of Liu Hai. However, it is possible that this is actually a portrait of the "Laughing Buddha" known as budai (布袋) in Chinese and Hotei in Japanese. Budai was a Zen Buddhist monk who lived in China during the Liang Dynasty (502-557 AD) and is always shown smiling and laughing with a large pot belly symbolizing happiness, good luck and abundance.

Reverse depicting Liu Hai and the Three-Legged Toad. Liu Hai is shown on the right waving a string of coins at the Three-Legged Toad which is located on the bottom of the charm.

Introduction to Chinese Charms

China was one of the first countries in the world to use metal coinage and its ancient coin history can be traced back well over two thousand years. In addition to official coinage, China also has a long history of producing "coin-like" charms, amulets and talismans.

Coins, as a form of money, represent power. Coin-shaped charms are, therefore, a very compact form of power. They are filled with symbolism and are believed by the multitude of Chinese to have vast powers.

Cast throughout the centuries, these ancient charms, informally referred to by the Chinese as "ya sheng coins" (压胜钱), "flower coins" (huaqian 花钱) or "play coins" (wanqian 玩钱), were not used as money but rather to suppress evil spirits, bring "good luck", "good fortune" and to avert misfortune.

The Chinese also produced other "coin-like" pieces such as "horse coins" (马钱), depicting famous historical horses, which were used for games and as gambling tokens. Other metal coin-shaped pieces traditionally included by collectors in the category of charms are the chess pieces used in Chinese chess also known as xiangqi (象棋) or "elephant" chess.

For the most part, all these old charms, horse coins and chess pieces were privately cast and their quantities and dates are almost impossible to determine. Nevertheless, they serve as important cultural artifacts from the life of the common Chinese throughout the centuries.




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Ancient Chinese Charm coin Liu Hai and the Three-Legged Toad 一 團和气



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