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Chinese Ancient Coin

Essay by   •  March 29, 2017  •  Essay  •  1,111 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,056 Views

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Chinese Ancient Coin

A Chinese ancient coin is a thing that no longer as important a function as it once had; it is the footprint of time.

The first money in use among the Chinese was nothing more than unsightly, heavy lumps of metals, coins, which were valued according to their weight. It was the oldest method of exchange in China, used for thousands of years before paper money was invented. The earliest ones were made of copper, and over time, gold and silver were used to make coins of higher value. The fact that the coins were made of metal is important; it meant they would last and be used for many years. That is why coins still exist even now after hundreds of years after no longer being used.

Circulating coins reflect the character of the nations that issued them. A coin’s appearance reveals much about what time period it was from. Moreover, the coins usually have word characters on them, so you can tell how old the coin is from the time period the characters were used, or from what the characters say. Many coins used during the Qing Dynasty had the name of the emperor, so you could know under which emperor the coin was minted. When you read the characters, the common order you follow is upwards, downwards, rightwards and then leftwards (Chinese ancient work starting from the right to left).

A coin’s structure reveals much about the culture behind it. Early coins had either a square hole or a round hole in the middle. There are special meanings behind the square hole. Ancient Chinese believed that the heaven was round and the earth was square, so the round coin with a square hole was a symbol of the universe. Another meaning behind the square hold relates to the principle of manners, in terms of being a curved edge outside, nice and kind to the hand, and being square inside, straight and righteous inside. The round hole also has a special meaning: the coin has two round shapes, and so it is associated with a Chinese expression “round and full,” which means, “fulfilled.” These shapes reveal the importance and commonness of symbolism in Chinese culture. Another use of the hole is to make it possible to use a string to tie all the coins together. In ancient times, people always carried a string of coins connected to their waistband, which was more convenient and safer than losing coins. Also it suggested another Chinese meaning of “endless treasure” because the string was knotted in a circle. Moreover, since the intrinsic value of a single coin was so small, tying cash into strings was necessary to facilitate commerce.

In my hand, a copper alloy coin, stamped on both side with four Chinese characters, “开”“元”“通”“宝”, is originally weighed one pound; but was afterward reduced to half an ounce, without suffering, however, any diminution of value. It is about 2 inches in diameter and so bigger than coins we use today, is the historical ancestor of all coins. Similar to the quarter, this coin is also round; but in contrast to the quarter, there is a square hole in the middle of the circle. The cooper is worn so that the metallic color is dark in recessive places and shiny on the surfaces. When you touch it, you can feel the protruding features of each character, just as to feel the time passing by when different people were using the coin in different occasions. Some black sticky dirt is on the coin, but it does not affect the beauty and value of this ancient man. Whereas, the dirt makes people think about what happened to this coin and what experience it had gone through, years for years.

First introduced around 350 BC in China, coins are the one of the earliest prove of human civilization. People use coins to trade, to exchange, or to get benefits. It is a remarkable and meaningful invention, promoting the

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