The official opening of the Xian Numismatic Museum (西安钱币博物馆) was announced today in a Chinese newspaper article.
The new money museum is located in the ancient city of Xian (西安), the capital of Shaanxi Province (陕西). Xian, formerly known as Changan (长安), has a history of more than 3,100 years and was the eastern terminus of the Silk Road. Xian (Chang’an) became the first capital of China when Qin Shi Huang (秦始皇) united the country in 221 BC and is where the famous terracotta army is located.
The coin museum was established by the Xian Branch of the The People’s Bank of China (中国人民银行) and occupies an area of 324 square meters (3,487 square feet).
More than 5,000 coins, paper currency and other forms of ancient and modern money dating back more than 4,000 years are on display.
The museum’s exhibits include some very rare items. According to Mr. Zhao Xiaoming (赵晓明), the Secretary-General of the Xian Numismatic Society (西安钱币学会), the first “piled” coin mold (叠范) ever discovered for the 4 zhu ban liang (四铢半两), valued at more than “one million yuan” ($156,500), is on display.
Considered among the “greatest treasures” on display are two “money trees” (yao qian shu 摇钱树) from the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 AD).
Ancient Chinese legends spoke of trees from which coins would fall like leaves when shaken.
Museum visitors examining one of the money trees can be seen in the photo at the left.
The money tree is 138 cm (54 inches) in height and has a series of seated Buddhas at the top. The money tree branches are decorated with wu zhu (五铢) coins, “immortals” and “fairies”, monkey gods and other auspicious animals.
Exquisite examples of money trees, such as the two on display, have been found in Han Dynasty tombs in southwest China. These burial objects are believed to have been used by the deceased as a “map” or guide leading up to heaven and then used as a means of support while there.
For additional information on the origin and history of “money trees”, please see “Chinese Money Trees“.