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Hushenfu and Changmingsuo

"Hushenfu" literally meaning symbols protecting the body, are Chinese lucky charms. These amulets are believed to invoke or expel spirits and bring good fortune. Perhaps the earliest examples of these were figures drawn by Taoist priests for their new disciples, who were required to wear these amulets at all times. In the eyes of ordinary folk, a Taoist priest with features including a white beard and a horsetail whisk in his hand was a messenger sent to expel evil spirits. Some would follow him and wear amulets to avoid contact with evil.


Chinese culture has created many types of hushenfu right up to the present day. One old custom that survives in countryside areas is for newborn infants to wear "Longevity China" (Changming Suo). Special belts, mirrors and bow and arrows were considered to be lucky charms for marriage.


Tiger Power

Hupo, or amber, was traditionally believed to be the gift of creation millions of years ago and was said to have formed underground from the soul of a dead tiger (based on the homophonic Hupo, meaning tiger's soul). For this reason, it became a saintly amulet made popular by Buddhism and can be worn as a necklace, around the wrist, or pinned to one's belt.


Old Shoes

Giving new couples the gift of traditional shoes comes attached with the wish of a harmonious life. The Chinese pronunciation for shoes (xié) is homophonic for the character meaning harmony. One Chinese idiom expresses sticking together till your hair goes gray (bái tóu xié lǎo). Antique markets and stores usually keep old pairs from traditional times, such as three-inch women's shoes for Lotus feet from feudal times.


As You Like It

Ruyi, literally meaning "as you wish" is believed to be the oldest Chinese token. These decorative objects are displayed in one's home and are usually made of wood or bone, though the earliest types of Ruyi were made of jade to symbolise the virtues of faithfulness and perseverance. Old couples used to give each other Ruyi to express their love. For the imperial family, a Ruyi of gold with gems stood for authority, status and wealth.


Old but Gold

Some ancient images have never faded and just about any decorative accessory makes a pleasing gift. The dragon, phoenix, turtle and Kylin (Chinese unicorn) are collectively known as the four sprites. The crane, cat and butterfly symbolise longevity. The magpie and plum blossom together signify good fortune, while the goldfish and flowering crabapple combine to represent prosperity. The Chinese characters are: longevity (shòu), fortune (fú), king (wáng), turtle (guī) and Buddha (fó).


Modern Charms

Modern items that are said to give you luck aren't hard to come by, even by walking through a market you are likely to find plastic cell phone covers, poker cards and other items decorated with auspicious symbols. The Phillips 126, 138 and 168 models, while extremely outdated, all have a fortune telling function. If you find yourself with this mobile, try using the function and a "magical" formula will tell you your energy index and your chances of finding love and riches.


Whether the Chinese lucky charms work or not, according to traditional beliefs is to some extent up to you.