The story of Liu Hai
There are many myths and legends surrounding the charater Liu Hai and his magical three legged toad. Often referenced as a Minister of State of the 10th Century A.D,
he was said to be proficient in the art of Taoist magic. He posessed one of the fabled three legged toads that could transport him anywhere he wanted to go.
Sometimes the magical toad would escape from its master and jump down the nearest well. Liu Hai knew how to get his treasured animal back though, he would simply dangle a line baited with gold coins down the well. The toad would seize the bait and was then recovered from its hiding place.
In another version of the story the toad is not so benevolent. It was a poisonous creature, exuding a vapour that harmed people. In order to trap the venomous animal Liu Hai dangled a string of gold coins into the deep pool where it lived. Once the toad took the coins in its mouth it could be pulled from its lair and destroyed.

The moral of these stories is that money is a fatal attraction, were it not for the toads obsession with holding tightly to the coins it could live freely in the well or  pool.
The figure of Liu Hai with his toad is often depicted in jade carvings from China. It is considered to be most auspicious.

The three legged toad holding a coin in its mouth is also very popular and is carved or cast from a wide range of materials, from base metals to precious jade. It embodies the wish for successful money making activities.
The pieces shown are all antique nephrite jade from the mid to late Ching Dynasty ( 1644-1911 ). In some views the strand of coins is clearly visible, and on the first two pieces the natural colour variation of the stone has been used to distinguish the form of the toad.
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