Art of Asia
- Han dynasty (206 B.C.E.–220 C.E.), an introduction
- Introduction to the Han dynasty
- The search for immortality: The Tomb of Lady Dai
- Funeral banner of Lady Dai (Xin Zhui)
- Mirror with game board design and animals of the four directions
- Tomb model of a watchtower
- Disk (bi) with knobs, feline, and dragon
- Vase with cover
- House model
- Money tree
Money trees offer a fascinating glimpse into regional and metropolitan Chinese Han dynasty (206 B.C.E.‒220 C.E.) beliefs. Most of these rare sculptures were probably made in Sichuan province and other parts of western China. The replicas of coins that hang from their limbs symbolize wishes for good fortune in the afterlife. A money tree was placed in a tomb so the occupant’s soul might have wealth while residing in the paradise of the Queen Mother of the West, Xiwang Mu.
A Queen Mother figure was placed near the top of this money tree. She sits on a throne supported by a dragon and a tiger. Further down the tree is a seated Buddha. Early Buddha images are found in some objects associated with Xiwang Mu perhaps because Buddhism was considered a religion of the Western direction, where the Queen Mother resided. A number of winged immortals (Xianxian), the residents of the Queen Mother’s paradise, can also be seen on this tree.
The casting of the many individual pieces that make up this ensemble is remarkable. Each piece is very thin and bears the same decoration on both sides; X-ray analysis shows that the patterns line up exactly. This was made possible by precise control of the lost-wax casting process. Take a close look at the glazed pottery base, where you will see lively scenes of a type rarely found in Chinese art.
Story of the money tree
One folktale from China tells of a farmer who has a tree with two legs and two arms. This tree works every day to bring him endless money, food, and clothing. The farmer’s greedy brother and stepmother become jealous and steal the tree. When the tree fails to produce money, the farmer reveals that the two legs and arms were actually his own, and that his hard work was what earned him wealth. The farmer’s brother woke up to reality, and from then on worked hard, creating another money tree.
Want to join the conversation?
- I know that in Asian cultures (my wife is Chinese) there is a fondness for the actual plant called a "Money Tree" or scientifically called the Pachira Aquatica. A quick search on Wikipedia yields that this tree is colloquially referred to as a "Money Tree", but is there any connection to these awesome looking bronze "Money trees" to the modern day plants called "Money trees" that some people buy for "good luck"?(13 votes)
- Wikipedia says "The name "money tree" seems to refer to a story of its origin, where a poor man prayed for money, found this "odd" plant, took it home as an omen, and made money selling plants grown from its seeds." I think the only similarity between these two objects is that they represent people's willingness of beeing rich.(1 vote)
- Does the Money Tree have any virtuous or symbolic reasons for the people?(2 votes)
- The leaves on the "Money tree" is in the shape of Circular Coin with a Square Hole, which refers to money, and people hope that it could bring them luck. Taoist consider it could make people more colser to the sky.(1 vote)
- How could they make the designs perfectly lined up? What kind of technique would they use and how would it work?(1 vote)
- why do they call it the money tree(1 vote)
- If you read the article, you will see that it says, "...The replicas of coins that hang from their limbs symbolize wishes for good fortune in the afterlife. A money tree was placed in a tomb so the occupant’s soul might have wealth while residing in the paradise of the Queen Mother of the West, Xiwang Mu."
So they called it a money tree because it represented the wealth that the deceased person hoped to have in the afterlife.(1 vote)
- what was the money tree made of?(0 votes)