Jiming lock vs. Longevity lock
"Jiming lock", although similar to the longevity lock, has a little
difference in meaning. Some parents worry that their babies may die when they
are young due to a poor medical condition, so they regard those who have lots of
sons or daughters as their babies' foster parents to seek for protection. After
the so-called "Jiming (practice of having a foster parent of a baby to ensure
his long life)"process, the parents will put on a lock-like accouterment around
the babies' necks, hence its name "Jiming lock".
Sometimes, parents have a monk as their child's master or a god as his or her
father so as to drive away the devil.
The "Huabaijia lock" is popular in North China. After the baby is born, the
parents spend a few copper coins to cast an elaborate longevity lock for their
baby in order to ensure his or her long life.
In South China, the parents wrap seven grains of rice and seven pieces of
black tealeaves with paper to present to relatives in exchange for scraps of
silver , which are used to cast a lock for the baby, with the Chinese characters
"Bai Jia Bao Suo (hundred-family' precious lock)" carved on the front and "Sheng
Ming Bao Gui (Life is precious)" on the back.
Wearing the longevity lock
When the baby is one month old, the longevity lock is a necessity among the
numerous gifts from relatives. Folklores have it that only boys can wear
longevity lock, which is to be made by his maternal grandmother. The lock will
be wrapped a piece of cloth on every birthday of the boy until he reaches 12
In the north of Shanxi Province , the longevity lock, made by the mother or
grandmother, is first knitted with blue, red and yellow silk threads rather than
with the inauspicious white or black silk threads. When the silk threads are
knitted for a certain length, a knot in the shape of a pig's head will be tied
and some coins hung under it. The longevity lock is then finished. Every year
followedŁ¬a new rope will be knitted for the child until he is 12 years old. Then
the parents will make a belt with the twelve locks, which the child will use
until his marriage.
The time when children are to wear longevity lock differs from place to
place. In some area, children begin to wear it when they are only one year old
while in other places children do it when they are just one month old. The
longevity lock itself is also varies a lot in different places. Some are made of
silk thread while others are made of metal. No matter when the longevity lock is
worn or what kind of materials it is used, the longevity lock represents
parents' love and care.
The little lock, which is meant to ensure the children's health, safety, and
long life, is similar in function with the amulet of western countries.