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Chinese coins

Coins Made of Turtle Shell Discovered at Famen Temple

“Kaiyuan Tongbao” coin made from hawksbill sea turtle shell

During renovation of the Famen Temple (Famensi 法门寺) in 1987, an underground “palace” was discovered under the foundation of the pagoda. This secret vault was found intact and had never been looted by grave robbers. Upon opening the vault, the archaeologists discovered remarkable treasures including the relic of a finger bone of the Buddha (释迦牟尼). [...]


Archaeological Blind Boxes and Ancient Chinese Coins

Archaeological Blind Boxes and Ancient Chinese Coins thumbnail

Staff member at the Henan Museum using a ‘Luoyang shovel’ to dig for treasure in a blind box For several years, Chinese museums have been offering archaeological blind boxes (考古盲盒) in an effort to promote and popularize archaeology to the general public. These boxes are sold in museum gift shops and are especially popular with [...]


Bodhidharma Holding a Wu Zhu Coin

Bodhidharma Holding a Wu Zhu Coin thumbnail

Bodhidharma (菩提达摩) was a Buddhist monk who came to China from Central Asia or the Indian subcontinent during the 5th or 6th centuries. Little is known about him but he is regarded as the founder of Chan Buddhism (禅) in China. Chan Buddhism eventually migrated to Japan where it further evolved into what is known [...]


Coin Dragon

Coin Dragon thumbnail

According to an article in the December 4, 2020 edition of the Science and Technology Daily (科技日报) written by Mr. Zhou Qian (周乾) who is a researcher at the museum, a surprising discovery was made in 2017 during renovation of the Hall of Mental Cultivation (yangxin dian 养心殿) in the Forbidden City (Palace Museum 紫禁城) [...]

Chinese Villager Unearths ‘Old Coin’ While Digging Ancestral Grave thumbnail

‘Ancient Chinese coin’ discovered by villager while digging at ancestral burial site A recent newspaper article tells the story of a Chinese villager who decided to move his family’s ancestral graves to a place with better feng shui (风水). While digging, he accidentally uncovered an ancient coin. He had heard stories of people becoming rich [...]


Unusual Variations of the ‘Kai Yuan Tong Bao’ Coin

Unusual Variations of the ‘Kai Yuan Tong Bao’ Coin thumbnail

With the minting of the kai yuan tong bao (開元通寶) coin beginning in 621 AD during the reign of Emperor Gaozu (唐高祖) of the Tang dynasty (唐朝), almost 700 years of the continuous casting of the wu zhu (五铢) coin ended. Kai Yuan Tong Bao coin from the Tang dynasty The kai yuan tong bao, [...]

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Turtle-Shaped Coin of the Han Dynasty

Turtle-Shaped Coin of the Han Dynasty thumbnail

Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty Because of expenses incurred in fighting the Xiongnu (匈奴) and opening up new territories, Emperor Wu (武帝 156 BC – 87 BC) of the Han dynasty (汉朝 202 BC – 220 AD) was in desperate need to raise revenues and in 119 BC decided to issue a new type [...]


Earliest Peasant Rebellion in China to Mint Coins

Earliest Peasant Rebellion in China to Mint Coins thumbnail

Thirty years after the founding of the Song dynasty (宋朝 960-1279), the government was still struggling to consolidate rule.  Economic hardship in the country was so great that peasants formed rebel armies to resist Song authority and kill corrupt officials. The largest uprising took place in Sichuan (四川).  Tea farmers rose up against the government [...]


Southern Song Coin for Jin Army Defectors

Southern Song Coin for Jin Army Defectors thumbnail

In the summer of 1131 AD, the armies of the Southern Song (南宋) and the Jin (金朝) were encamped on opposite sides of the Yangtze River (Changjiang 长江) and engaged in a pitched battle.  General Liu Guangshi (刘光世) commanded the Southern Song army while General Wan Yanchang (完颜昌) led the forces of the Jin. The [...]

Unique Western Xia Coin Written in Seal Script Unearthed in Ningxia thumbnail

The Western Xia (Xi Xia 西夏  1038-1227) was an empire situated between the Song (宋朝) and the Liao (辽朝). Until very recently, Chinese numismatists were aware that the coins of the Western Xia had inscriptions written in the native Tangut script (xi xia wen 西夏文) or one of the calligraphic styles of Chinese with the [...]


Song Dynasty Biscuit Coins

Song Dynasty Biscuit Coins thumbnail

During the reign (998-1022) of Emperor Zhenzong (真宗) of the Northern Song dynasty (北宋), a small quantity of cash coins were minted that had very broad rims and/or were very thick.  Chinese coin collectors refer to these coins as bing qian (饼钱) which translates as “biscuit” coins or “cake” coins. This was not the first [...]


Shun Tian Yuan Bao Charm

Shun Tian Yuan Bao Charm thumbnail

This beautifully engraved and gilded shun tian yuan bao (顺天元寶) charm dating from the Tang Dynasty (唐朝) appeared at an auction in China in 2015. Shun tian yuan bao coins were issued during the years 759-761 by Shi Siming (史思明), a rebel leader who seized control of the Tang dynasty capital of Luoyang (洛阳).  Luoyang [...]