Coin Sword

An image of a sword made up of a series of small coins, and red thread. Sitting enxt to it is a small ball made of coins
Coin sword and ball from the Eldon House collection

Country of Origin: China
Year: ca. 1700-1897
Materials: Metal and string 

Coin swords, like this one, are from southern China, and have often been used by members of the Taoist religion. These coins come from the Qing Dynasty, (1636-1912), and are held together by red and yellow strings as these colours were a sign of royalty or wealth. There are about 80 coins on this piece, and around 20 on the accompanying talisman.

These swords were sometimes used by Taoists to ward off evil spirits and ghosts. In feng shui (a form of divination), they are also used to ward off evil and swords were hung inside homes and in bride’s bedrooms, believing that homes with these talismans would not be harassed by spirits. In other parts of southern China, coin swords were given to newly married couples to bring them bliss.

While coin swords can be found in museums globally, many of them exist in North America among immigrant communities. This one is part of the former, with it being brought back by the Harris Family trips to China in December 1897.