Other references say the coin was cast in
Yong Kong reign (300 AD) of Emperor Hui of the Jin
Dynasty (265-316 AD) at the order of Zhao Xin, the governor of Yizhou
after he captured Chengdu (Sichuan Province) and established his regime
with the "year-title" of Tai Ping.
Most recent sources now conclude that the coin was issued by the
Kingdom of Shu (221-265 AD) during the Three Kingdoms period.
This is based on archaelogical discoveries in 1980 of a coin mold and
in 1955 of a large cache of these coins in a tomb near Chengdu in
Sichuan Province where the Kingdom of Shu previously existed. The
tomb was dated to 227 AD which means that these coins were cast
sometime before that date.
The inscription (legend) on the coin is tai ping
bai qian (太平百钱) which translates as "Taiping (Great Peace) One Hundred
Cash", and the coin was worth the equivalent of 100 cash coins in
circulation at that time.
The reverse side of the coin is most unusual in
that it has many wavy lines and dots.
The wavy lines are generally believed to represent water waves and the
dot at the top and bottom represent stars.
Even though this was the legal form of currency of the time, the fancy
calligraphy and the use of symbols more closely resemble that of charms
There are those who believe that this coinage may actually be
associated with the wudoumi
Taoists. Zhang Daoling (also known as Zhang
Ling, "Ancestral Celestial Master" and "Celestial Master Zhang")
established the first
organized Daoist (Taoist) religious sect, known as the "Five Bushels of
("FivePecks of Rice" or Wudou Mi
Dao 五斗米道), in this same area of Sichuan Province.
(If you have further interest, a charm depicting Zhang Daoling meeting
Laozi can be seen at Daoist
This coin has a diameter of 26 mm and a weight is 6.0
next use of peace on
circulated currency was by Emperor
Zong of the Song
Dynasty (960 -
1279 AD) cast during the years of his Tai Ping Xing Guo reign (976 -
At the left is an example of this Song Dynasty coin. The obverse
has the characters Tai Ping Tong Bao (太
平通宝) with the word for peace
inscribed above and below the hole. The reverse of this coin is
flat with no inscription.
This coin has a diameter of 24.8 mm and weighs 4 grams.
The use of the
characters for peace (Tai
平) were next seen on officially
cast coins during the reign of Emperor Si Zong of
Dynasty (1368 - 1644 AD).
The coin at the left is an example which first
appeared in the year 1628 AD. Emperor Si Zong's coinage had the
characters Chong Zhen Tong Bao
(崇祯通宝) on the obverse side.
The reverse side of the coin has the word peace with the
character Tai (太)
This coin has a diameter of 26.2 mm and weighs 3.1 grams.
Peace Coins of the Taiping Rebellion
The characters for
also used on the
"unofficial" coinage of a large-scale peasant uprising (1850 -1864 AD)
during the Qing (Ch'ing) Dynasty referred to as the Taiping
Hong Xiu Quan (洪秀全) established the Heavenly Kingdom of Great
put down, Hong Xiu Quan and his
rebel army controlled a good portion of southern China with a
population of about 30 million. His troops were called "holy
troops" and his coins were called "holy coins".
The coin at the left is an example of this rebel coinage. The
obverse side has the characters for Tai
(peace) above and below the square hole
with the characters Tian
Guo (天国), meaning "heavenly kingdom", to the right and left.
The reverse side of the coin has the characters shengbao (圣宝), meaning "holy coin",
on the right and left.
This coin has a diameter of 24.6 mm and weighs 3.3 grams.
Peace has always been a state of
affairs desired by the people throughout China's long and frequently
unpeaceful history. Therefore, it would not be surprising that
charms, which were not currency but nevertheless were used daily by the
common Chinese, would have this wish for peace inscribed on them.
The expression tian xia tai ping
(天下太平) first appeared in the
ancient Chinese encyclopedic text Lüshi Chunqiu (吕氏春秋), known in
English as Mister Lü's Spring and Autumn Annals, which
was compiled about 239 BC. The text reads tian xia tai ping wan wu an ning (天
下太平万物安宁) which means "when there
is peace under heaven, all things are
tranquil and calm".
During the Tang (618-907 AD) and Song (960-1279
AD) dynasties, it was
quite common to see a similar sentiment expressed on duilian (对联) which are parallel
sentences or antithetical couplets written on scrolls and hung on doors
during holidays and festivals. The expression was shang tian yan hao shi xia jie bao ping an
(上天言好事下界保平安) which requested Zaojun (灶君),
the "Stove God", to "ascend
to heaven and report good things and then descend to earth and protect
the peace and tranquility".
The expression tian xia tai ping
(天下太平) is frequently found on Chinese charms
beginning in the Qing (Ch'ing) Dynasty (1644 - 1911 AD). The
inscription may be translated as "peace under heaven", "peace and
under heaven" or "an empire at peace".
The following are several examples of tian xia tai ping charms:
This is a fairly large specimen with the characters tian xia tai ping
There is a picture of a crab
between each of the characters. What
is the connection between peace and crabs? The Chinese word for
crab (蟹) shares the same pronunciation (xie) as the Chinese word for
harmony (协). Therefore, the hidden meaning of the crab symbol
reinforces the desire for peace.