What are the ancient Chinese coins


Currencies played a big role in the trade exchanges between individuals and peoples. Where it constituted a safe way to buy the basic needs and requirements for living. In this article, we show what the ancient Chinese coins are.

About the ancient Chinese coins

ancient Chinese coin were the main form of currency in many commercial dealings. It was made of several metals, including copper, iron, lead, gold and silver.

Coins were made in many shapes and sizes. And each coin was made in a shape, weight, and mark to indicate its value. 

Coins also was a good way to study the economic and commercial history of the state in old ages. Where it was an important reference away from the older ways, which depended on the exchange of animals, textiles and shells. The first appearance of coins in China was in the period (770 BC – 476 BC) of the Zhou Dynasty. While the ancient Chinese paper currency appeared in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127).

Ancient Chinese coins – Shell Money

Shellfish was a way to trade at the end of the Neolithic period. Its small form, bright color, solid texture, lightweight and easy counting constituted an easy way to do business.

The unit of shell money is “peng” (朋 in Chinese), which means friend. Shell coins remained in use as the primary currency until the end of the Shang Dynasty (1675 BC – 1029 BC).

However, due to the lack of shell coins in northeastern China, they tried to make shell coins from pottery, stone, bone, copper and gold. So that The invention of copper shell coins at the end of the Shang Dynasty is considered as the real beginning of the use of coins in China.

ancient Chinese coins
Shell Coins

Ancient Chinese coins – Copper Coins

Copper coins appeared in the Qin Dynasty (221 BC – 206 BC), which is one of the most important dynasties that ruled China because of its great legacy to the Chinese people, such as the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Army.

This coin, which is the oldest copper coin, was called “ban liang qiian” (半, Ban Liang coins). The shape of the ancient copper coins is circular and hollowed in the middle in a square hole, and this is what made the copper coins called “fangkong cash”, which means a square hole.

The copper coins belonged to different dynasties that ruled the country, such as “Yongzheng Tongbao” (雍正通宝) in the Qing Dynasty (1616-1911).

Jiao Zi – the oldest paper currency in the world

The reason behind the industry of paper currency was the need for easy-to-carry money due to the great economic development and the increase in the many commercial sectors.

The first paper currency was published in 1023 by 16 merchant-princes in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. And it is a piece of paper printed with houses, trees, men and other things.

In this article, we offered you some information about the ancient Chinese coins. Which helped in commercial dealings in ancient times in China.

To find out more information about life in China, Hello China team invites you to browse the rest of the topics in the ( Life in China ) section.

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