List of illustrations wanted for F.A. Turk’s

Scott Semans
Before his death in 1996, Dr. F.A.Turk of Cornwall, UK produced a booklet- length essay entitled AN INTRODUCTION TO CHINESE COIN-LIKE CHARMS. This work describes the origins, uses, and classification of Chinese metal charms, which carry felicitous phrases and images designed to protect the owner from ill, and to attract good fortune. Dr. Turk was not able to complete the work by providing images of particular charms to illustrate the various points made in the essay. As prospective publisher of the work, I am hoping that persons knowledgeable in the religions and folklore of China will come forward to help. The goal is to match the following bits of text from the essay to actual charms from which an image can be made (digital photo, photo, rubbing), or to the image of a charm in a published work. A select bibliography of such works follows; they are simple compendiums of charms with little explanatory material, which is why a work such as Dr. Turk’s is needed to make sense of them. All assistance will be gratefully acknowledged in the published work.

I can provide printed copies of most of these published works. I can also provide as a text-only document (or in MSWord5.1/Mac) the full text of Dr. Turk's essay to any who can render serious assitance in this project.

If you have electronic images to illustrate any of the following queries, please send the graphics directly to Vladimir Belyaev (e-mail, prefered image formats are JPG and GIF, but any other are acceptable too, please discuss with him how to obtain quality image).
If image already placed, but you have best quality, please do not hesitate to suggest it.
Be sure to say which query number each illustration relates to, and to leave your initials or other identifier so that I can issue proper credit in the book.
In case the connection between your graphic and the text of the query is not obvious, please include an explanation.
In case you have only a rubbing or black & white photo, send directly to Scott Semans / P.O. Box 22849 / Seattle, WA 98122 USA.
In case you have other amulets that are particularly interesting, unusual, or instructive, please feel free to submit these also. Ask Vladimir to assign you a query number series (100's, 200's, etc.). I may use these either as general illustrations or I can add text to cover their importance. I will need as much information on their origin, symbolism, use, and importance as you can provide.

Selected Bibliography of works illustrating charms:
Chen, Hong Xi Wan Qian Ji (Curio Coin Collection) 344p, 1986?
Kainz, C. Chinesischen Tempelmünzen 72pp, 1895R1974
Lockhart, J.H.S. Currency of the Farther East, V1: (Glover Collection, text) & V2: (illustrations) 223pp, 1895
Lu Zhenhai Zhongguo gudai yasheng qianpu (Catalog of Chinese Charms) 831p,1991
Mandel, Edgar J. Chinese Charms and Amulets Phase II Plates 270p, 8Z\x x11”, 1975?R1995
Petit, Karl Talismans Monetiformes de Chine et du Japon 184p, 1981
Petit, Karl Amuletes & Talismans Monetiformes D'Extreme Orient 88p, 1976.
R Remmelts, A.A. Chinese Charms and Amulets 94pp, 1968.
S Schjoth, Frederick Chinese Currency: The Currency of the Far East
Thierry, François Amulettes de Chine et du Viet-Nam 1980s?
Yu Liuliang et al Zhongguo Huaqian (Chinese Amulet Coins) 509p, , 1992

Descriptions of charms for whish images placed below.


  • Most of the items below are direct quotes from the [full] text. To learn the context, you can word-search on that quote [once you have the full text of the essay].
  • The ones marked with - Scott Semans has such a piece and can produce the image. For the others, one must know the amulets and their uses well enough to identify an amulet that fits the text, and then find the amulet or its image to copy.
  • Some of images are 'clickable' for large scale.

Vladimir Belyaev

Steve Young

1. Turtle & snake

Vladimir Belyaev
2. Horse coin

3. Fu Lien Ch’ang Shou from a recent article in the Chinese journal Kao Gu by Liu Feng-chu

4. Hexagonal amulet

Vladimir Belyaev

Steve Young
5. Padlock shape

Steve Young
6. Lung niu hsiang (Coiled dragon with dots) "this example shows ... Ch’eng Huang"

7. Spell writing

8. "May you live for a thousand years like a man of the Spring & Autumn period"

Vladimir Belyaev

Steve Young
9. An amulet with grass writing.

Shown piece have 'handwrite' style inscription.
The charm is of modern issue.

Second item is from book with description of charms collection, issued at Taiwan (p.108, NN 442-443).

John Liang

Vladimir Belyaev

Steve Young
10. Watson’s tigers, snakes & boucranium attributed to 6th century B.C.

John Liang

Steve Young

Steve Young

11. Toyok’s (Toy 03) Zodiac animals & characters, and (Kao III.011) bronze disc with champlev ornament, six-armed divinity, etc.

Please look this page.
12. K’ang hsi poem cash

Steve Young
13. Official charm of Ch’ing dynasty

14. #360 - Houses, God of Music

15. One of these, has the figure of a black dog at the top and another type has on the obverse the Moon and seven dogs and, on the reverse, the crescent moon and the seven stars of the Dipper in Ursa Major

16. the arrangement of seven coins; a large one in the center and six smaller arranged around it ?

17. medal with the inscriptions "May gold and riches fill your halls. May honor, long life and riches be yours."

18. Zodiacal charm (copies made from an original; a type sold in drugstores)

Steve Young

19. hand-engraved on brass disc by spiritualist medium should you have located one in the meantime!)

Vladimir Belyaev, N8, 31-Jul-98

Vladimir Belyaev, N11
20. Twelve specimens metal-analyzed. I have a rubbing for #5, but for the rest it would be best to have an impression of the exact specimen used. :

N8 "Round charm 'May your five sons gain the higher literary degrees'; R: Dragon and Phoenix".
[V.B. - Shown item (50.4 mm 33.4 g) have the same obverse, but different reverse:
Obverse: Wu Zi Deng Ke ('May five sons graduate' R31, S95),
Reverse: Ji Xiang ('Auspicious wish') ]

N11 - "Large (45mm) charm of yellow brassy metal. Junks navigating on a river with full sun and two flying birds, R: "A favorable wind and fulfilled expectation of a full return cargo" (A rare charm which seems to have circulated in Yunnan, Tongking and Annam"

21. Silver bride’s charm: "Containing abundance" and below this "Refulgent glory" whilst the center has "8th month of the year of the ox".

22. Charm in polished steel, hand engraved, under a century old

23. Indonesian tin charm

Vladimir Belyaev
24. Unusually large Chinese amulet (103 mm piece of Cheng Te inscription)

Item is from book with description of charms collection, issued at Taiwan (p.170, N 728, size 99.5 mm).

Steve Young
25. Amulet with loop and canopy on top

26. "A mixed Buddhist and Taoist source for the iconography is very common." (A sample piece with a description of the iconography for a caption would go well here)

Steve Young
27. "Scenes are fairly common and can usually be taken as decisive for attribution to China"

Steve Young

Steve Young

Steve Young

Steve Young
28. Some typical Japanese amulets to illustrate points made: "The designs are bold and distinctive and sometimes figures are cut into two by the central hole. Amulets of the Buddhist Nichiren sect have inscriptions in a semi-cursive style and often arranged at angles to the central hole." One class of charm has the design reserved against the background, a character never found in Chinese ones. Iconography includes the gods of good fortune, horse and monkey, and horse and man shown in different planes and often arranged around the hole so that the coin-charm has to be turned to view both figures in a natural position. Several designs are derived from the distinctive Japanese badges (Mon) and from the mitsu tomoye motif which, in all its variants, is common.

Vladimir Belyaev

Steve Young, M12

Steve Young, M33

Steve Young, M36

Steve Young, M49

Steve Young, M60

Steve Young, M73
29. Korean charms, various shapes, butterflies, flowers

Steve Young: The charm with bees is not Korean. It is actually a Chinese copy of a Korean Charm. Similiar pieces are listed in the back of Mandel's Korean Charms and Amulets. The piece (M73) contains plum and bamboo flora. The obverse of M12 is in ultra-high relief.

Steve Young
30. Annamese charms: "The borders are frequently decorated with simple lines or dots and sometimes the rims are also thus decorated; this is a very distinctive and fairly constant element of their style" The silver and gold ones catalogued by Schroeder, I believe, have been shown to be primarily coin of the realm, in the sense of commemoratives, and secondarily they are awards or decorations. They are almost always found in nice grade, so I would be curious to know of any reports of their use as amulets. The bronze ones such as Sr. 128+, 217, etc. are probably in the same category. Is it the bronze pictorials such as Sr. 479-481 to which you refer in the above sentence? I don’t have an original of this sort of piece to illustrate, as all I have ever seen are 1960’s copies made to sell to servicemen.
Shown amulet is listed in Schroeder as # 595.

31. Photos or illos of people wearing charms, or of a "charm bag"

32. P’ei Ch’ien suggesting character tzu

Vladimir Belyaev
33. P’ei Ch’ien of regular cash bored with holes

John Liang

Vladimir Belyaev 30-Jul-98

Vladimir Belyaev 31-Jul-98
34. Charm kept by shopkeepers to increase profits.

Second item is from book with description of charms collection, issued at Taiwan (p.67, NN 279-282).

Third item (50.2 mm, 35.1 g):
Obverse: Yi Ben Wan Li ('Great profit at lesser cost' - old wish among merchants)
Reverse: Xian Feng Jin Zhai ('Great abundance and revenue into home')

35. charm nailed to junk for prosperous and profitable voyage

36. picture of a Nien-fan (New Years pudding) or cash string formed into dragon shape, placed at foot of child’s bed

John Liang
37. ridge beam amulets "May gold and jewels fill your halls" or showing Twin Genii of Harmony (Ho Ho Erh Hsien)

38. a demonifuge amulet. A clay replica

39. paper amulet burned at funeral (I can find modern ones in Seattle’s Chinatown, if that would do)

40. Wang-mang pu imitation, esp. soft metal

41. "the various wishes that the young males of the family may graduate and become rich"

42. Amulets with "Divine" or "Pure" which may have substituted for paper amulets pasted by priests over corpse’s water bed or coffin

43. silver animals or plants used in hair of female corpse

44. Cash filed to resemble a lotus flower for placing in corpse’s mouth (I have some filed with spikes on top - would this be such a piece?)

45. Various categories from the functional classification. I’ve listed those which I can not recall being mentioned previously: 1B,C,E; 2Ac,Ad,B; 3A,B; 5A,B?,C?,D?,F,I; 5J

An additional charms from essey

Steve Young
"Silver ones are extremely uncommon in Western Collections (and seemingly in Eastern ones also) and those that I have seen are of much later date and not of this type."

Steve Young
"A very small mirror is put upon the corpse before the coffin is sealed to serve as a light in the grave".
Steve Young: "Bought this one at an antique shop here in Taegu. The dealer said this was a burial piece of the type explained above and was amazed that I knew this".

Steve Young
Under #5J (Marriage Medallions).

Steve Young
Steve Young: "Here's a misc amulet which depicts a man with several cash coins (or amulets) on a string".

Chinese Coinage Web Site