Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/325

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Collectanea. 297

Chinese duodenary time cycle, viz., the rat, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, cock, dog, and pig. These animals are used to name successive hours, days, months, and years, which are under their influence, and they are of much importance in Chinese folklore. For example, one of the most necessary parts of the funeral rites is the burning of " treasury money," which is intended not only to provide comforts for the soul in the land of the dead, but also to enable it to repay other souls from which it has probably borrowed the heavy fine paid by it at birth to the god of the dead for permission to leave his realm and to be born into this world. The amount of this fine is fixed by the particular year of the duodenary cycle in which the soul was born, being highest for the ox year and lowest for the monkey year. The " treasury money " consists of paper stamped in imitation of the edges of regular rows of metal money, and either tinned to represent silver or coloured yellow with cassia to represent gold. The paper money exhibited, however, was in oblong pieces of coarse paper merely stamped with squares and concentric circles to represent copper cash and burnt in a temple on certain occasions. The lung faig or dragon and pluvnix charm exhibited is inscribed, " Great prosperity, promotion, and happi- ness " on one side, the other bearing a dragon and a phcenix. The Great Spreading of the Five Elements charm shows on one side a tortoise, snake, sword, and the Great Bear constellation. The koo timg king, or old brass mirror, is hung up outside a bed curtain or in a bedroom, and frightens away evil spirits by reflecting them, or heals those who have become mad through seeing an evil spirit. The older the mirror the greater its power. It may be flat, like the specimen exhibited, or convex, but must always be round. The eight felicitous words charms have various lucky inscriptions on one side, while the other is decorated with suitable birds, flowers, &c., one, however, being of special interest as it shows the god of the North Polar Star holding a pencil as the patron of learning and also the stars near the pole, in one of which is his home. Deities are not usually, I am told, figured on charms. The fai p'ing charm reads fien fing tai hsia, " peace throughout the empire," and both chwang yuan charms read " May you win the chwang yuan " (the highest place at triennial examination at Peking) ; the obverse in one case being engraved with two dragons. Ancient cash are commonly hung as charms,