How Many Coins in the Fountain?

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Pingyao - coins in fountain 542
▲The trouble with throwing coins in Chinese fountains is there aren’t many Chinese coins, you rarely seem to break a one yuan note (¥1 equals 16cents US) although there is also a half yuan (or five jiao) note. There are three coins – one jiao (¥0.10), five jiao (¥0.50) and one yuan – but you don’t see them too often. So people toss notes in fountains as well as coins, once they get waterlogged they sink to the bottom.

Rome - Trevi Fountain 271

◄ The Trevi Fountain in Rome.

Tossing coins in fountains is a worldwide practice, add one to the Trevi collection and you’re guaranteed to make a return trip. You also keep the semi-professional Trevi coin clearers in business. In China, where everything works faster, harder and quicker than in the decadent, old-fashioned west, one coin in the fountain is clearly not enough. In Pingyao on my recent trip to China I encountered instructions for why you needed to throw eight coins in a fountain:

  • The first for good luck
  • The second for high official ranks
  • The third for longevity
  • The fourth for great health
  • Then the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th to make everything go smoothly