Chinese Treasure Bowl Charm
Since ancient times, there have been stories of a magical â€œtreasure bowlâ€ (ju bao pen èšå®ç›†) that can create unlimited riches, and sometimes great sorrow, for its owner.
While the actual treasure bowl remains to be found, its image has became a popular symbol of good fortune.
This Â is an old Chinese â€œhangingâ€ charm with the inscription ping an ji qing (å¹³å®‰å‰æ…¶) which is a simple wish for â€œpeace and happinessâ€.
The Chinese characters are beautifully written and stand out prominently against the dark patina of an unadorned field.
Adding to the â€œcharmâ€ of this piece is the loop at the top.Â The loop is actually a dragon.Â The dragonâ€™s head, at the bottom of the loop, is looking back at its two hind legs and tail.
A â€œtreasure bowlâ€ filled with riches is displayed on the reverse side of the charm.Â These valuables are members of the â€œEight Treasuresâ€ (å…«å®).
In the very middle of the bowl is a round â€œflaming pearlâ€ (ç«ç ) with its flames extending upwards to the top of the rim.Â The pearl is an ancient symbol of riches but also has the power to grant wishes and is a metaphor for perfection and enlightenment.Â Chinese dragons are often depicted as â€œplayingâ€ with a flaming pearl.
To the right and left of the pearl are two smaller round objects, with a square hole in the center, which represent traditional Chinese gold coins (é‡‘é’±).
Directly under each gold coin is a comma-shaped object representing a silver ingot (é“¶é”).Â Silver ingots were used as money particularly during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).
On the side of each gold coin is a branch-like object which is coral (çŠç‘š).Â Coral symbolizes longevity, and red coral is considered especially auspicious.
The two objects sticking out of the treasure bowl at the 3 oâ€™clock and 9 oâ€™clock positions are rhinoceros horns.Â The rhinoceros horn (çŠ€è§’) is a visual pun or rebus for â€œhappinessâ€ (å–œ) because both words share the same pronunciation xi.Â A pair of rhino horns represents â€œdouble happinessâ€ which is a traditional ChineseÂ symbol for a happy marriage.
At the very bottom of the pile of treasures, and supporting the pearl and silver ingots, is the lotus.Â The Chinese word for lotus (lian hua èŽ²èŠ±) has the same pronunciation as the word â€œcontinuousâ€ (lian è¿ž).Â The hidden or implied meaning is that the treasures will continue to be produced endlessly.
The treasure bowl itself is decorated with a string of seven â€œdotsâ€ which symbolize the seven-star â€œBig Dipperâ€ constellation (åŒ—æ–—æ˜Ÿ).