Tuesday, June 24, 2008

More on the Money Museum

The children with us were very excited by all the exhibits. Not surprising at all as we were all surrounded by money, money and more money. The display gave us a very good insight into the ways that money had evolved down through the ages.
Top photo:
Display of the coins that were always made with an opening in the centre. A square hole. Why ?
So that you could easily string them together for easy counting and they will not get lost. That is the practical part. But the history of this Ban Liang Qian coin is interesting. We should thank China's 1st Emperor.... Qin Shi Huang. Though such coins were first used in earlier dynasties in the Qin State, they were made and promoted widely during his reign and strictly controlled. His top minister Li Si was credited with adding Chinese characters to the coin. Why was it round with a square hole? What meaning and symbolism was there? The roundness represents the sky surrounding the Square earth in the centre. Round extends the commandment of heaven while square publicises the authority and power of the emperor. This was a concept prevalent in the understanding of our forefathers in those ancient days.

Would you believe it?
These are not barbers' shaving knives.
They were actually metal money in ancient times!

Some money were actually made of real GOLD!

These few pieces of ancient artifacts were actually the mould for making the coins. They were made of clay and earth and the molten metal were poured over them. After the cooling period, the coins were then removed from the mould. Such money making kilns were strictly controlled and approved by the rulers of the day. It was a serious crime to make your own illegal money. The punishment meted out was often....a death sentence.
By the way, many of the archaeological finds shown in the museum were discovered in Hubei Province itself. Hubei has a very long and rich history.
I will explain more when I write about the exhibits at the Hubei Provincial Museum in coming blogs.

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