3 Piece Toiletry Set
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Cambodian Hamsa Bird Coin French Hook Earrings
Featuring authentic Cambodian copper coins set in sterling silver.
The Hamsa bird, a swan of Cambodian myth, has been a sacred animal to Hindus for three millennia, and figures prominently in the Upanishads, the Hindu holy books written circa 900 BCE. Prized for its ability to gracefully navigate three elements—it walks on land, flies in the air, and swims on water—the Hamsa bird is the mount of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge and the arts. Legend has it that the Hamsa eats pearls, and that it lives in water but does not get wet.
The first syllable “ham” is the sound of the intake of breath; the second syllable “sah” is the sound of exhalation. In this way, the Hamsa bird represents the prana, the cosmic breath so integral to the practice of yoga.
The name of the bird is a Sanskrit play on words. When used as a mantra, the syllables ham and sa become soham, Sanskrit for I am the universe. Thus the bird represents the Supreme Spirit, the Brahm an, from which all of the universe is made, and its flight represents the soul escaping from sam sara, the cycle of birth, life and death that is repeated through reincarnation.
Good luck, purity, enlightenment—all of these are symbolized by the Hamsa bird. When you hold this coin, metaphorically speaking, you have the whole of the universe in the palm of your hand.
These coins were struck with the image of the mythical Hamsa bird. The design was stylized and modified by the Thais with a Chinese “chi” above the bird. Similar coins remained in use until the 19th century. Prior to 1847, no dates are found on coins of Cambodia. It is estimated that this 2 Pe coin was minted sometime between 1650 and 1850.
Beginning in the 16th century, Cambodian coins began to appear that were all small, round, one-sided coins with images of plants and animals. They were crudely hand struck in silver, copper or billon (low grade silver) with a single die on a flat, blank surface. Most of the coins of this period were believed to have been minted at the occupied city of Battambang near the border with Siam.