fung che (Pinwheel Toy)

About this object

History of use

Purchased after visit to a temple or religious festival. May be played with by children or placed on family altar. Motion may have historical relationship to Buddhist prayer wheels.

Cultural context

pilgrimage souvenir

Iconographic meaning

Red and gold are auspicious colours in Chinese culture, protecting people from evil influences; activity, noise, and movement are also antithetical to evil. Bells have auspicious connotations, associated with temples, religious observances, and exorcism. The horse is symbolic of speed and perseverance. The Chinese characters mean 'good fortune' and 'progress, progress to high prosperity'.

Physical description

Wire frame in shape of t with two cross-pieces; four small pin wheels attached to ends of cross-pieces and one 10.5 cm from bottom of handle. Brass horse with Chinese character on back at top, below which is larger pinwheel with bell at centre, below which is rectangular plaque with four Chinese characters.