Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tang dynasty Flying Cash

For these part of the dynasties I would touch much on the history because if I put it brief it would not be nice and the history of each dynasty as I have said is too wide.So most would only be about the banknotes.Paper money started with the Tang dynasty but these notes were not actually for general circulation for the citizens,used only by merchants for mercantile transactions between distant places(not as a medium of exchange) and not considered as money and so real paper money started with the Song dynasty

Tang dynasty horse figurine

These Tang dynasty money appeared in about 800AD and was given the name Flying cash not because there was anything magical but because they tend to fly away easily(well of course it flies away,it is made out of light paper,which banknote does not fly away).

Women playing cuju(football)

In China till the Tang dynasty,only coins circulated and there were no paper money so from large to the smallest of payments or transactions,coins were used.So if a seller or merchant wanted to buy things he would use coins only ,and if the purchase was large,he would need a huge amount of coins and goods purchased would be in a distant place so it would be troublesome to carry such a huge amount of coins.(If you were observant you would know that most people nowadays even think it would be troublesome to carry even a small amount of coins in their pocket,don’t believe me?,ok when you owe someone a dollar,try paying in coins, you will see them asking you to pay a dollar note,strange people if you ask me).

A man herding horses(Han Gan)

How are these notes used?.Merchants make a deposit of an amount of coins at a origin place usually the capital and they would receive a banknote which would show the amount of money it was exchanged for and then bring it to a certain place they would want to go and exchange it back for the same amount of coins,this is definitely easier then carrying huge amount of coins.(ex-you have 2 pieces of 50 cent coin but you think it is troublesome to carry it so you go to a bank in KL and change it for a dollar note so you travel to Penang but remember that these notes cant be used publicly so you go to a branch of the same bank and exchange the note for 2,50 cent coins.

Spring Outing of the Tang Court (Zhang Xuan)

The Tang government found it troublesome to transport huge amounts of coins to distant places for the purchase of good,transporting these huge amount of coins could be dangerous as they could be a victim to robbers and bandits.The government took the idea from the merchants and paid the merchant whom they made business with these notes.Since they could be exchanged for hard currency at the capital, they were traded amongst merchants like currency.Merchants who were paid would deposit coins at the capital and go wherever destination they are heading and cash the note and receive the coins in return again.So overall these notes were created for convenience.These notes which acted like a modern day bank draft had the looks of currrency(Todays bank draft don’t even look attractive,it looks more like a piece of paper compared to these notes).Since these notes existed some 1200 years ago,pieces of this notes are very rare.I was lucky to find this image although it took me quite a while.

This is a Tang Flying cash,a one kwan note issued during the reign of Emperor Wu Zong(841-846AD),15th emperor of the Tang.The size of this note is(9x6 inches)0r(22.9x15.2cm),ancient cash are usually huge.This note was donated to a Boston museum.If you have one of these notes, a small fortune awaits.

Handscroll attributed to Han Gan
(Looks like it had many owners,observe the amount of chopmarks it has,it really spoils the artwork)

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