Ancient Chinese Open-work charm coin Woman Fish, Fu-Yu Lucky Charm Liao Jin Anci

Ancient Chinese Open-work charm coin Woman Fish, Fu-Yu Lucky Charm Liao Jin

Ancient Chinese Charm coin

open-work charm

Woman Fish (妇 鱼 = 富裕) 钱, Fu-Yu Lucky Charm


Size: 45 mm; 31 grams

This is an example of an ancient open work charm showing a man fishing. The man is on the right with the fish on the left.

The fish symbolizes prosperity because the Chinese word for fish (yu 鱼) is a pun for "abundance" or "well-to-do" (yu 余 or yu 裕).

The fish also alludes to an allegory of a carp fish leaping over the Dragon Gate to become a dragon (liyutiaolongmen 鲤鱼跳龙门) which illustrates that persistent efforts are needed to overcome obstacles as in the case of those who wish to move up the ranks as officials in the imperial examination system. (Please see fish charms for additional information)

There is still another interpretation of the meaning of this charm. The human figure may actually be a woman. The Chinese word for woman (fu 妇) has the same pronunciation as the word "wealth" (fu 富). Since the word "fish" sounds like "abundance", the hidden meaning of the picture is an abundance of wealth.

Also, in the folk art of the Miao people of Southern China, the fish symbolizes women.


Chinese Open Work Charms

"Hollowed Out" Money

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There was a major shift to the casting of open-work charms during the Tang (618 - 907 AD) and Song (960 - 1279 AD) Dynasties. The themes of these open-work charms included flowers and plants, insects, fish, dragons, the phoenix, Chinese unicorn or qilin (kirin in Japanese), deer, horse, and figures of persons. Most of the open-work charms of this period were used for ornamentation such as for dress and personal adornment, accessories for horses, etc.

It was also during this time that charms with auspicious sayings on the obverse side, such as chang ming fu gui (长命富贵), were making their appearance. The reverse side of the charms showed various pictures reflecting the Taoist (Daoist) influences, the bagua, and the twelve animals of the zodiac.

One of the major types of ancient Chinese charms is known as "open-work" money. In Chinese, lou kong qian (镂空钱) actually means "hollowed out" money. These charms are also known as ling long qian (玲珑钱) or "elegant" money.

These are charms that have irregular shaped "openings" or "holes" between their exquisite design elements. They are round and almost always have a round hole in the center. Open work charms with scenes of buildings such as temples, however, tend to have square holes in the middle.

Open work charms are almost purely pictorial and only a very few include any Chinese characters or inscription. The picture on one side is the same as that on the other side, only reversed. Therefore, only one side of each charm is displayed below.

Chinese open work charms made their first appearance during the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) although many of the specimens from that time may have actually been small pieces taken from other metal utensils.

Open work charms became very popular and were often worn for personal adornment during the Song (960 -1279 AD), Yuan (1271 - 1368 AD) and Ming (1368 - 1644 AD) dynasties. Their popularity, however, seemed to wane somewhat during the Qing (Ch'ing) Dynasty (1644 - 1911 AD).




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Ancient Chinese Open-work charm coin Woman Fish, Fu-Yu Lucky Charm Liao Jin Anci



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