The Pear Charm - "Show Fu" - The Blue Gown For Longevity - The Tiger - Wolf - Fox - The Thunder, Fire, And Echo - Sacred Dog - Stork - Tortoise - Crane - Child's Hand - Mitsu-Domoe - The Keys - Leaf Talisman - Ota-Fu-Ku - Bow - Temple At Ise.
A PERSONAL charm, the efficacy of which depends entirely on the merits of its owner, consists of five thousand open dots arranged in the shape of a pear on a piece of paper; each dot being filled up when some good action is performed. There is a standard of value for each meritorious action; he who is able to claim credit for repairing a road, building a bridge, or digging a well, may fill up ten dots on his paper, whilst the cure of a disease, or to give enough money to purchase a grave counts thirty dots. To be the originator of a scheme of mutual benefit to all allows fifty dots to be filled up.
There is a debit as well as a credit side to this charm, and, therefore, he who reproves another unjustly has to fill up three extra dots; and the levelling of a tomb, which is a serious offence, adds fifty dots more to the account. At the end of the year the account is balanced, and all outstanding dots are settled by fasting and charitable deeds. When all the dots have been duly filled up the paper is burnt, so that the record may pass to the other world and be placed to its owner's credit.
All through life the Chinaman regards himself as surrounded by demons, to combat whom innumerable charms and amulets are necessary. A favourite charm to keep evil spirits from crossing the threshold is a leaf of the Sweet Flag (Acorus gramineus), or Artemisia, nailed on either side of the doorway; always providing that the leaf is placed in position early in the morning of the fifth Moon. The Chinese New Year starts when the Sun and Moon are in conjunction, in Aquarius, so that the fifth Moon would be at the time of the conjunction in Gemini.
Another household charm is to write "Show Fu" (long life and happiness) in red on a piece of paper and to fix it opposite, or upon the door, to ensure prosperity and good fortune.
Jade has always been prized by the Chinese for its talismanic virtues, and is used extensively in various forms for personal adornment, particularly as a wristlet to give physical strength and protect from all ills.
Kwan Chung, writing in the seventh century B.C., relates that a piece of Jade symbolises to the Chinese nine of the highest attainments of Man -
"In its smoothness he recognises Benevolence, In its high polish - Knowledge Emblematic, In its unbending firmness - Righteousness, In its modest harmlessness - Virtuous Actions. In its rarity and spotlessness - Purity, In the way it exposes every flaw - Ingenuousness, In that it passes from hand to hand without being sullied - Moral Conduct, And in that when struck it gives forth a sweet note which floats sharply and distinctly to a distance - Music".
It is for these qualities that the Chinaman regards Jade as the most precious of his possessions, both as a diviner of judgments and as a valued charm of happy omen.
As a birthday gift to parents a long silken gown of the deepest blue is frequently presented as a Talisman for longevity. In reality it is the shroud which, sooner or later, will be worn by its owner to the grave; but, as a man is thought by the Chinese to lay in a large stock of renewed vital energy on his birthday, it is considered a fitting robe for that occasion, being made by young unmarried girls with a long life (it is presumed) before them. In a year which has an intercalary month, its capacity for prolonging life is considered to be of unusually high degree; moreover, it is embroidered all over with the word "longevity" in thread of gold, the influence of this word being, it is believed, absorbed into the being of its wearer, so that he may enjoy plenty of health and vigour and prolong his life. It is considered an act of the utmost piety to present one of these garments to an aged parent or relative who, decked in this gorgeous shroud, receives the congratulations of children and friends on festive occasions.