CHINA brass amulet late 20th century


CHINA, amulet, no date (late 20th century), Obverse: WU ZHU, Reverse: Jiang Taigong standing above, qilin animal L below, brass, 47mm, 20.4g, CCC296, crude, “VF”

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Jian Taigong was a noble who helped overthrown the Shang Emperors in the 12th century BC. There are several other names associated with him. The Shang are now famous for having their kings buried with their entire household staff and wives. The qilin (kirin) is a fantastic animal that appears in relation to an outstanding person. It is a type of unicorn.

Chinese coin-like good luck pieces, except modern struck ones, which are with exonumia. Money itself has always been considered good luck, and the belief that objects can have spiritual power aligned with their purpose has always been popular. Amulets are known from as early as the Han Dynasty, and, considering the auspicious associations of fish, perhaps back to the Zhou period.

The oldest Chinese coins are at least as old as the earliest Greek coins. The Chinese coinage system differed from other systems in two ways. It was monometallic, only bronze coins circulated in general commerce. Gold and silver were treated as commodities. And the manufacturing method was by casting in moulds rather than by striking heated solid planchets. The main reference I use in attributing and describing these coins is the book: Chinese Cast Coins, by David Hartill.