Pictorial Charm

About this object

History of use

Probably used for hanging or display. Although charms of the same design are distributed to tourists as souvenirs at religious sites of contemporary China, these magic spell charms were probably put to serious use in ancient society. People in need of healing or supernatural help to turn their fortune around plead with the Daoist practitioners to draw the attention of the powerful deities, specifically the Thunder God and Taishang Laojun (Lao-tzu). After the ritual performance, the charm bearing the magic spell would be presented to the individual in need as an amulet.

Iconographic meaning

Eight trigams on reverse, turtle, and snake (representing the supreme deity Zhenwu Dadi), and the image of Laojun (Lao-tzu) or god of thunder, all represent the magic power of religious Daoism, meant to deter the evil and harmful.

Physical description

Round charm, round centre hole, inner and outer rims on both sides, many characters and design on obverse, characters left; eight trigrams top, figure right, turtle and snake on reverse.