The Language and Iconography of Chinese Charms

Deciphering a Past Belief System

  • Alex Chengyu Fang
  • François Thierry

About this book


This book offers an in-depth description and analysis of Chinese coin-like charms, which date back to the second century CE and which continued to be used until mid 20th century. This work is unique in that it provides an archaeological and analytical interpretation of the content of these metallic objects: inscriptive, pictorial or both. As the component chapters show, these coin-like objects represent a wealth of Chinese traditional folk beliefs, including but not limited to family values, social obligations and religious desires. The book presents a collection of contributed chapters, gathering a diverse range of perspectives and expertise from some of the world’s leading scholars in the fields of archaeology, religious studies, art history, language and museology. 

The background of the cover image is a page from Guang jin shi yun fu 廣金石韻府, a rhyming dictionary first published in the ninth year of the Kangxi Reign (1652 CE). The metal charm dates back to the Song Dynasty (960–1279 CE), depicting two deities traditionally believed to possess the majic power of suppressing evil spirits. The stich-bound book in the foreground is a collection of seal impressions from the beginning of the 20th century. Its wooden press board is inscribed da ji xiang 大吉祥 by Fang Zhi-bin 方質彬 in the year of bing yin (1926 CE).


Archaeological Interpretation Coin-Like Charms and Amulets Family Values Folk Belief Tang Poems Universe in Ancient China the Five Phases the Four Spirits

Editors and affiliations

  • Alex Chengyu Fang
    • 1
  • François Thierry
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Linguistics and TranslationCity University of Hong KongKowloonHong Kong
  2. 2.Département des Monnaies et MédaillesBibliothèque nationale de FranceParisFrance

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016
  • Publisher Name Springer, Singapore
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences
  • Print ISBN 978-981-10-1791-9
  • Online ISBN 978-981-10-1793-3
  • Buy this book on publisher's site