The Book of Talismans, Amulets and Zodiacal Gems, by William Thomas and Kate Pavitt, , at sacred-texts.com
The Pear Charm—"Show Fu"—Jade—The Blue Gown for Longevity—Japanese—The Tiger—Wolf—Fox—The Thunder, Fire, and Echo—The Fan of Power—Hotei, the God of Contentment—The Eagle—The Millet Dumpling—Carp—Sacred Dog—Stork—Tortoise—Crane—Child's Hand—Mitsu-Domoe—Hammer of Daikoku—The Keys—Anchor—Crystal Ball—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—
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.
Japanese. Buddhism when it came to Japan about the sixth century was readily accepted and allowed to establish itself side by side with Shinto beliefs. A good many of its tenets and symbols having been adopted and being still in use at the present time, Buddhist Talismans similar to those worn in India and China are prevalent, the god Fulgen being regarded as an incarnation of Buddha. The Shintos believe their country was the birthplace of the Sun Goddess, whose descendants they are, being also predestined to rule the country for ever and ever; thus it is that ancestor-worship forms the basis of Shinto beliefs. The
country, it is believed, was in the first place begotten by two gods, whose actions and impulses it is considered impossible for man with his limited intelligence to judge.
There are numerous deities of Heaven and Earth, typifying human beings of high degree, all brave men who are dead, or impressive formations of Nature, such as the Sea, Mountains, Trees; also, by reason of something strange, fearful, or wonderful in their nature, certain animals, the Tiger, the Wolf, and Fox; and all forces that manifest in the elements, such as Thunder, the Echo, Fire; in fact all things strange and wonderful are deified under the name Kami, and have shrines dedicated to their worship or are used in various forms as Talismans.
The Japanese believe that errors are the result of human weaknesses, and can be expiated, or forgiven, and that the steadfast following of the path of truth will win the approval of the gods, and bring them finally to eternal life and the companionship of their beloved dead. The female element is considered equal with the male, and occupies a very high rank in the Shinto system in contrast to China, where women have no status.
are all Talismans for the virtues which they express.
Hotei (Illustration No. 42, Plate III), the children's god, bringing happiness and good fortune, is found in every household; he is represented seated on his bag, which is well-filled with the good things he dispenses, his corpulent figure denoting his high attainment and personal importance.
The Eagle, because of his courage, fearlessness, tenacity, and aggressiveness, is worn as a Talisman
for good fortune, and Captain Brinkley, in his book Japan and China, says:
The Dumpling is also regarded as a charm against the perils of wave and flood, it being the sacred bread of the Nation, and in its circular shape is the symbol of the Sun.
The Carp (Illustration No. 37, Plate III) is worn as a Talisman for endurance and pluck, because according to an old legend a Carp by the exercise of these virtues succeeded in leaping all cataracts, and in finally reaching the Chariot Cloud, which carried him to Heaven and eternal happiness. On all festival days, the Carp plays a very important part as a symbol of good fortune,
and it is customary on these occasions to send up large fish-shaped kites, one for each son, the Carp being essentially a masculine Talisman.
As in China, Talismans frequently consist of inscriptions on paper, invocations to one or other of the gods for success and good fortune, the symbol of the god being used according to the purpose of the Talisman. The sacred dog of Mitsuminè is used as a protection from robbers, the god Jurojin, the Stork, the Tortoise, or the Crane for health and longevity.
A very popular charm for the latter purpose is the impression of a child's hand made by inking the hand, which is then pressed on to a piece of paper. These paper Talismans are pasted up both inside and outside the house and are considered to avert all evil influences.
In Tokio a popular charm consists of a thin piece of wood on which is written the name of the famous shrine Narita; this is worn as a luck-bringer, and for protection from all dangers.
Symbols of the Houses of the Zodiac are also used as Talismans, worked in metal varying according to the House occupied by the Sun at the time of birth.
A very important Talisman is the symbol Mitsu-Domoe, the triple form of the source of life, representing the elements of Fire, Air, and
[paragraph continues] Water. It is worn to protect the household and person from Fire, Flood, and Theft (see Illustration No. 43, Plate III). This diagram is considered to symbolise ceaseless change, and is said by some authorities to have had its. origin in a three-limbed Swastika Cross.
The Fan, which is regarded as an emblem of Power and Authority, is .a Talisman to ensure the safety of its wearers (Illustration No. 41, Plate III).
The Hammer of Daikoku, the god of Wealth, is worn for success and good fortune.
On the , Illustration No. 46 represents the Keys of the Granary, or storehouse, which are worn for love, wealth, and happiness.
The Anchor is worn for security and safety.
Rock Crystal Balls, mounted as charms, are worn as a preventative of dropsy and other wasting diseases.
A charm popular with travellers is the leaf of the Teg-a-shiwa; the Japanese say that the movements of this leaf in the wind resemble the beckoning of a hand. When a relative is about to start on a journey he is served with a meal of fish on one of these leaves in lieu of a plate; when the meal is finished the leaf is hung over the door in the belief that it will
ensure well-being on his journey and a safe return.
A Talisman for luck and good fortune is a representation of Ota-fu-ku, the joyful goddess, who is depicted with a chubby laughing face which is painted on purses and little gifts exchanged between friends, and it is thought that to look upon her face will bring prosperity, joy, and good fortune.
At the New Year it is customary to hang a rope before dwellings, in front of shrines, or to suspend it across the road to thwart evil spirits and avert ill-luck; it is called Shinenaka, and is made of rice-straw plucked up by the roots, the ends being allowed to dangle down at regular intervals.
To protect the house from demons, and to keep its occupants secure, a bow is fixed to the roof ridge, and if tiles are used impressed with an ornament like bubbles an efficient Talisman for protection against fire is obtained. The Japanese believe that the materials, principally wood, of which their temples are made become impregnated with favourable influences, as the result of the services that are held in them, and as these temples are entirely pulled down every twenty years there is a great demand for the old wood, from which Talismans are made.
One of the most ancient temples is at Ise, where
a shrine has been in existence many hundreds of years B.C., and when this temple is broken up thousands of pilgrims assemble to secure fragments of its precious wood.
The temple is rebuilt of new wood exactly on the lines of the old one.