The History of Coins in China |

back “ Kingdoms wax and wane. States come and go, ” Luo Guanzhong wrote in his fresh The Three Kingdoms. The same can be said of China ‘s money : in the course of its farseeing development from a small cultural island on the Yellow River to the People ‘s Republic, the Land of the Dragon has witnessed many forms of money come and go. And so far the history of its money has been characterised by its unique constancy – cowrie currentness and the cash mint, for example, were in circulation for many centuries. This and other kinds of money from the Middle Kingdom are presented here in their historical context. The commentaries by Dagmar Lorenz, sinologist and writer of the DVD, complete the small tour d’horizon .

China – thousands of years of civilization .
ancient China lived on agriculture : the state ’ second crops were vital to its affluence and stability .
It is, therefore, no wonder that taiwanese mythology tells of rulers turning the dirty into farmland and regulating the rivers .
One of these rivers is the Huanghe, the Yellow River .
On its Great Plain the origins of chinese culture emerged, and this was besides where the great history of chinese money originated .
In those ancient times, this wholly area was inhabited by peasants and warriors .
The inscriptions on these bronze plates tell us that China was ruled by dynasties of kings : by the Shang dynasty from 1600 B.C., and the Zhou dynasty from 1100 B.C .
back then, bartering was a common means of doing business .
The Kauri shell, known as “ bei ”, is an meaning from the coastal regions of the easterly and southern Chinese Sea and is considered to be the first outstanding means of payment in Ancient China .
The Kauri shells were pierced and threaded onto strings. Kauris were used for paying for goods, workmen and soldiers. Kauris were frequently stolen in marauding attacks and stored in treasuries .
Before hanker, more and more Kauris were needed, so they were carved from cattle bones …
… or shed in bronze – which was particularly handy since they could be melted and recast into newly coins .

Around 770 B.C., the Zhou empire collapsed. Former vassals turned into powerful rulers, fighting against each other for domination .
many modest states formed, which were then annihilated in bloody battles. Towards the concluding stages of that development, known as the “ Age of Battling Empires ”, there were lone seven larger states left : it was a time of big and general insecurity .

These times of unrest produced new forms of money, for exercise these nigger coins. They are shaped like the spades which were used for farming .
There were besides tongue coins in the human body of knives, like those that the hunters and fishermen used. such coins were issued by the individual principalities. They were cast – not minted like the coins in the western world .
Some other circulating coins were the bronze kauri, called “ ant nose coins ”, “ yibi ” – and ring coins. All of these assorted coins co-existed as local currencies. This is a prohibition liang coin : prohibition liang is “ half a liang ”, which is half an snow leopard, about 8 grams .

This mint was used chiefly in the northerly country of Qin. This is the place where China ’ s far history would be decided. Over meter, the king of Qin managed to conquer all the other states and to annex them to his own district .
By 221 B.C., he had overpowered his last equal. now the king of Qin ruled as emperor over a chinese empire, which was united for the first meter in history. He became known under the name of Qin Shi Huangdi .
however, under the First Emperor ’ south successor the empire sank into chaos .
finally, one of the warlords forced the country to unite. He founded a new dynasty of emperors : the Han dynasty .

The Han emperors declared the once persecuted confucianism to be the state ’ sulfur leading doctrine. They besides adopted some important administrative structures from their predecessors, equally well as the banish liang coin .
however, this coin was excessively heavy for casual use. For that argue smaller, lighter coins were cast, they were called elmseed coins .

not until 118 B.C. did the Han emperor Wudi cast a newly, standardized coin : the Wuzhu mint. “ Wu ” is the total 5, “ Zhu ” a weight unit. So the coin weighed “ 5 Zhu ” .
The Wuzhu coin remained in use long after the descent of the Han dynasty : in fact, for about eight centuries ! And all coins in belated times resembled the Wuzhu coin to a certain degree in size and shape. It is the typical shape of a chinese mint. A part of round alloy, symbolizing the flip, and a square hole in the center : that is the earth. That kind of mint could easily be threaded onto a string and carried around. The Europeans called it “ cash ”, after the sanskrit password “ karsha ”, an indian system of weights unit .
These coins were cast by means of a alleged money tree. Its branches are the ducts for the liquid metallic. Afterwards, the coins are picked from the corner, put on a stick, smoothed and polished. Unlike western mints, no cute materials like argent or gold were used in casting taiwanese coins. diverse copper alloys like bronze or boldness would do perfectly well. It wasn ’ t the physical measure of the means of payment which counted, but the fact that it was normally recognized as money. The successful history of this standard coin was interrupted entirely once .
In the class 8 A.D., the ruler Wang Mang staged a coup d’etat and entered the dragon throne. He reintroduced the honest-to-god coin forms, such as the spade money and tongue coins. This remained a abruptly sequence in coin history, since adenine soon as 23 A.D., Wang Mang was defeated in struggle and killed .
“ Empires wax and wane. States hail and go. even the Han dynasty ’ s brilliant predominate, having lasted for about four centuries, began to decline and its aura to fade. ”
These words come from the classical Chinese novel “ The Three Empires ”. A subsequently menstruation depicts a scene from the novel .
After the decline of the Han dynasty the empire was divided into three kingdoms. Under the Jin dynasty taht followed, there was a time of tumult over the enthrone .
The Huns overran the empire and separate states formed in the union and the south – until the empire was finally unite again much later. however, it took until 618 A.D. before a dynasty came to exponent which was to take China to its political and economic height : the Tang dynasty .
This is a seventh hundred Kai Yuan Tong Bao mint. These coins were introduced by Gaozu, the first emperor butterfly of the Tang dynasty .
The letter “ Kai ” combined with the letter “ yuan ” means something like “ new beginning ” and is supposed to indicate the begin of the fresh era of the Tang dynasty. The letter “ tong ” combined with the letter “ bao ” means “ circulating measure ”, because it became increasingly common to name the coins according to their impute value, not according to their weight. Another name for these circulating values was “ kurant coins ” .
“ The sky is gamey, the emperor is far away. ”
Taizong, the second Tang emperor, conquered big territories along the ancient Silk Road. This is how, after 630 A.D., China gained access to international trading networks .
They connected Central Asia to the empires of the Parthians, Kushans, and Sasanides in Persia and northwest India and extended their compass far into the west – into the regions in the easterly mediterranean sphere, which were under the charm of the Roman and Byzantine empires .

foreign tradesmen came pouring into China and bought the lavishness goods which were therefore much in necessitate in the westerly world : silk, tea, and porcelain, which was invented around the year 620 .
The Tang era was an era of globalization and internationalization, as we would call it. And many chinese people today distillery see it that way. It was a very open-minded time, a meter when people from all parts of the earth gathered in the town which was the capital at that time : Chang ’ an. There were people from diverse cultures and religions – there were nestorian Christians sink and building their churches. taiwanese Buddhism was on the heighten in China in the 6th and 7th century. Buddhism was an imported religion from India, and during that time many Buddhist textbook got translated, evening in the emperor ’ second house Buddhism had a big comply. Around the class 800 permissiveness began to decline a small, and foreigners were persecuted because of growing unrest within the empire of China. But the dynasty that followed Tang, the Song dynasty, saw a newly acme of literature, music, and acculturation. classical music poetry originates from this period and hush survives today .
A cash coin from the southern Song dynasty .
Unlike the coins we know in the west, chinese cash coins never show the portrait of a rule. rather, they show the alleged government motto of the emperor butterfly. This coin ’ s motto is “ Shaoding ”, which means something like “ continued consolidation ”. It is one of eight governing motto of the emperor butterfly Li Zong – and since these mottos each mark a especial meter span within the emperor ’ s predominate, today ’ s coin collectors may correctly assume that this mint was likely to have been made between 1228 and 1233 .
Lizong ’ s reign lasted from 1224 to 1264.

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subsequently, after the begin of the Ming dynasty – that is, from 1368 – the chinese emperors restricted themselves to lone one motto for the entire period of their reign :
This coin dates from the era of the first Ming emperor, who reigned under the motto “ Hongwu ”, which means american samoa a lot as “ enormous power in conflict ” .
Along with the originate of foreign craft, silver gained importance. Foreign traders began using argent ingots to pay for China ’ sulfur exported goods, such as tea, silk, and porcelain. The alien peoples, who controlled China during the 12th and thirteenth century, preferred ash grey and gold, excessively : the Jurchens, reigning as the Jin dynasty, and the Mongolians .
Kublai Khan, Genghis Khan ’ south grandson, overran the chinese empire with his horsemen in the thirteenth century and founded the Yuan dynasty. The mongolian emperors had a unlike attitude towards money than the Chinese. In their eyes, the chinese cash coins were worthless. So they entrusted the administration of the empire ’ sulfur finances to the herculean guilds of traders : largely muslim Uigurs, Persians and Arabs .
These organizations collected the taxes from the taiwanese under the emperor ’ second command – in kind, such as cereals or silk .
They then handed the equivalent value in silver ingots to the royal treasury. such tax transactions yielded enormous net income margins !
These eloquent resources enabled Kublai Khan to introduce newspaper money as the sole valid means of requital for the first time in history .
This bill dates back to the fourteenth century .
however, the first very paper bills, the alleged “ jiaozi ”, had actually existed since the eleventh century .
Provided that there was a continuous flow of silver supplies, the newspaper money kept its value .
But that changed when rebelling peasants swept the mongolian rulers aside – and when one of their leaders took over the dragon throne in the fourteenth hundred : he was to go down in history as the emperor Hongwu and the founder of the Ming dynasty. He handled the dogged economic crisis by issuing more and more paper bills .
The consequences were big drops in prices and inflation. Hence the return of paper money was stopped wholly in 1569. In the chinese empire, people used the reliable cash coins – while foreign trade continued to be based on the silver currentness .
here is a eloquent guinea-bissau peso from 1569, the age of the spanish king Philipp II .
During the 16th and seventeenth hundred, the Spaniards used these “ reales ”, as they were called, to pay for the chinese luxury goods like tea, silk, and porcelain .
The seaport Manila in the Philippines, founded in 1571, became the hub of their trade with China. The Spaniards were by no means brusque of silver : the silver mines in Peru and Mexico, having been exploited by the conquistadores, provided a rich and steady add of silver .
Those flatware chilean peso from later times carry these alleged “ chopmarks ” : The chinese traders used particular dies for marking the foreign coins in orderliness to test their authenticity .
The chinese empire ’ s fiscal economy depended on these silver imports – even more so since China had no solid silver sources of its own. So they turned a blind eye on Portugal, the other big western trade state, when it occupied the island of Macao and set it up as the al-qaeda of their craft with China .
The Portuguese besides took advantage of the trading embargo which China had set up against the aggressive nation of Japan in the sixteenth century. portuguese traders bought taiwanese silk and shipped it to Japan – and exchanged it for silver medal from japanese mines. They returned with this silver, which held much more value in China than in Japan, in ordain to buy even more silk in China : a lucrative business even for the taiwanese government, whose stock of silver kept filling up .
This last changed around 1750 with the rise of the Netherlands and England. They became leading nautical trade nations and broke into the spanish and portuguese markets. The silver medal imports declined. China experienced a currency crisis – which ruined the peasants first, since they sold their crops for cash coins but had to pay their taxes in eloquent .
The consecutive Chinese dynasty of emperors faced like problems. once again, a foreign dynasty had conquered the draco toilet : the Mandshu. Since 1644, they had produced the chinese emperors .
Like their predecessors, the Mandshu emperors cautiously cut off the possibility of foreign influence on the taiwanese empire – neglecting the fact that even in those times China could hardly escape from the effects of the increasingly globalize trade. At the same clock, it became obvious that they did indeed need some westerly know-how : like astronomic instruments, for exercise .
They reached the chinese royal court via european Jesuit missionaries who worked temporarily as experts for the chinese emperor – until they were sent away again .
The same thing happened to Lord Macartney, who reached the chinese royal court with his deputation in 1793 .
By ordering of the King of England, he campaigned for the institution of equal trade relationships. But for the emperor Qianlong it was unthinkable to have relationships at eye level with a alien state : after all, China, the center of the earth, was superior to all early peoples. If England wants to submit to the chinese emperor – we accept. But a relationship on equal terms ? That does not come into doubt. China has got everything it requires. It doesn ’ t need the products of these savages !
But less than thirty years later, a sincerely barbarian product entered the chinese market : opium .
british traders working for the East India Company imported opium from India. The like addictive means which would wreak havoc in taiwan yielded a favorable poise sheet for the Englishmen. ultimately there was a product that could be sold in China ! To date the English could merely buy things from the chinese : tea, for exemplar, which they had to pay for with precious silver – which in twist led to a big decrease in the English add of silver. But now the taiwanese retailers paid for opium with flatware – which led to a deficit of silver in China .
The chinese royal motor hotel prohibited the deal of opium. After that proved to be useless, they used wedge to prevent the opium trade. England reacted by sending gunboats .
This led to the alleged opium wars between 1839 and 1842 .
Since China had no effective means to counter the mod western military engineering, they had no choice but to accept all of England ’ s demands, such as ceding Hong Kong to England, opening many harbors for unrestricted trade with England, and paying high sums of reparations .
And that was equitable the begin : The English were followed by the french, the Russians, the Germans – and late flush the Japanese. They all took advantage of China ’ s military weakness in order to get carry of always increasing areas of influence .
On acme of all that, China had to take on loans in decree to pay the extort reparations : with westerly banks, of course. How humiliate for the once overbearing empire of China ! The western savages could tied press for a new shape of money : the dragon dollar, first minted in Kanton in 1889 after the fashion of westerly argent dollars, using a mint from Birmingham. This coin carries the inscription “ Guangxu ”, the official governing motto of the last chinese emperor but one – ironically, it means something like : “ brilliant succession ” .
The country was shaken by xenophobic revolts : the Taiping disgust was followed by the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 .
But the foreigners strike back : An international excursion corps conquers Beijing. The chinese empire faces its fall .
first attempts to modernize China start excessively belated. In 1911, the old and decrepit empire collapses. In 1912, the chinese house of royals resigns in the name of the still green child emperor Puyi. China becomes a democracy. Its new president is Sun Yatsen .
The fresh democracy mints a newly flatware dollar, with the portrait of Dr Sun Yatsen and a new calendar : here we have the year 23, counting 1912, the year of the republic ’ second initiation, as year 1. These silver dollars were produced until the mid-1930s. An outstanding piece of this series is the alleged debris dollar – with a sailing debris on its back .
many provinces besides issued coins in the name of the republic. lone a few years after the initiation of the republic, boastfully parts of China were controlled by military leaders, the alleged warlords .
This is one of them : the alleged “ christian general ”, Feng Yuxiang. These warlords issued their own currencies, excessively .
The power struggles between the warlords, the government in Peking and the National Chinese counter-government in Nanjing were followed by the japanese invasion of China in the 1930s. During the second World War, japanese bomb fell on taiwanese cities. japanese occupiers massacred chinese men, women, and children. Refugees wandered aimlessly across regions laid waste .
The situation in the fiscal worldly concern was chaotic : There was the money of the National taiwanese government under Chiang Kai-Shek ; and there was some token money in the areas conquered by Mao Zedong and his People ’ sulfur Liberation Army after his fabled Long March .
The Japanese besides issued their own money .
A coin and a bill from Manchuria. In 1932, the japanese set up the puppet country of Manchuguo and installed the last emperor PuYi as governor .
After World War II, it took another four years before the civil war was over and Mao Zedong entered Bejing, where he announced the People ’ s Republic of China on October 1st, 1949 .
With the exceptions of Hong Kong, Macao, and Singapore, since this time, there have been two chinese currencies : the renminbi, the alleged “ people ’ second currentness ” in the People ’ s Republic of China, and the “ xin taibi ”, the “ new Taiwan dollar ” in the Chinese Republic of Taiwan. Chiang Kai-Shek had escaped to Taiwan after his kill by Mao Zedong ’ second troops .
On this island off the chinese mainland he established – with a little help from the USA – his republic, which was actually a dictatorship .
The mainland, besides, was governed in a authoritarian manner – by Mao Zedong ’ s Communist Party .
When Mao Zedong announced the People ’ s Republic of China, many Chinese hoped it would lead to a long earned run average of peace. But that hope was dashed alone a few years belated. In the deep 1950s, there was the first heavy persecution of intellectuals in Communist China – then, in 1958, there was the “ Great Leap Forward ” – “ dà yuè jin ” in Chinese – which was a reasonably amateurish movement announced by the leaders of the Communist Party in order to blast China from an agricultural state right into the industrial age. This led to disaster, millions and millions of people died of hunger. then, 10 years late, was the cultural Revolution, and once more the whole state was thrown into tumult, once more a unharmed generation was enslaved and sent to the countryside. Schools closed, universities closed. All that didn ’ thyroxine variety until the mid-1980s, when Deng Xiaoping introduced his reformed politics .
The reformer Deng Xiaoping started a development which gave China a capitalist boom during the follow two decades – under the Communist Party ’ s government .
This government still claims autocracy, while Taiwan has introduced majority rule. however, despite all of this, mainland China has long since been dovetailed into the ball-shaped fiscal economy .
One fact, however, that remains concealed behind the boomtowns ’ glittering facades is that many chinese live in the shadows of the economic miracle : migrant workers in the cities and poor farmers on the countryside.

China ’ second future will depend powerfully on the way it will handle that social burden .

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