Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ming dynasty paper money

Famine ,discontent among the people , discrimination of Han Chinese by the Mongols caused rebellions and hatred towards the ruling government which led to its downfall.Zhu who was penniless peasant and Buddhist monk joined the Red Turbans in 1352 and gained reputation by marrying a daughter of a rebel commander and captured Nanjing(Later to be the capital of the Ming) in 1356. led an army towards the capital of the Yuan dynasty in 1358,the emperor of the Yuan dynasty fled and Zhu declared the founding of a new dynasty and named it Ming or ‘Brilliant’ and took the name Hongwu.He then became the first emperor of the Ming.He ruled from 1368AD-1398AD.
Hongwu Emperor

I am sure And like other the previous Yuan dynasty,the Ming also issued paper money and like other previous dynasties which issued paper money suffered from inflation.It first appeared in 1374 by the Board of Revenue.These notes were known as Da Ming Tong Xing Bao Chao or in English is Great Ming Precious notes.These notes could not be exchanged into coins.Denominations of 100,200,300,400,500,1000 cash were issued during the reign of first emperor of the Ming Emperor Hongwu.In 1389 denominations of 5,6,7,8,9,10,20,30,40,50 and 50 cash appeared for trade.

Yongle Emperor

An interesting fact is that these notes were made from mulberry tree paper which was recycled from waste paper from government ministries and examination papers for Civil Service.During the Ming notes were issued under 3 emperors-
Yongle -(1402-1424)3rd
Hongxi -(1424-1425)4th
Forbidden City(Built during reign of Yongle)

The denominatios of the notes during Yongle are 1 to 20 kwan,25,30,35,40,45 and 50 kwan.Hongxi notes have denomination of 10,20,30,40,50,60,70,80,90,100,200,300,400 ,500,600,700,800,900,1000 cash.(Can you imagine if our money has these many type of denominations?Its madness).The notes of Hongxi were known as Great Ming Military Administration Treasury Notes.
Hongxi Emperor

Inflation took hold again and at the end of the century 35 strings of cash were needed to obtain an ounce of silver, 20 years later it took 20 strings and by the 1400s it took 1000 strings in paper currency to buy 1 ounce of silver.The value of these notes decrease so rapidly that people wiould not even accept these notes and silver became the preferred medium of exchange and the notes began to disappear from circulation and after 1455 it never appeared in works on Chinese history.
Spring Morning

In the year 1643AD,the last year of the Ming dynasty there were plans to revive the paper money and a proposal was sent to emperor Chongzen,the last emperor of the Ming.However it failed as the government was too weak from rebellions and would not benefit from this.And for the next 400 years from the year 1400s commerce existed. without paper money until the need for paper money arose again during the Qing dynasty.
Ming 1 kwan note(Hongwu reign)

Sketch of the 1 kwan for clearer picture.The size of these notes are 20.32cm x 29.21cm
200 cash note (Hongwu reign)

50 cash note(Hongwu reign)

50 kwan note(Yongle reign)

1000 cash note(Hongxi reign).The size of this note is 8.89cm x 21.59cm.
Images of these notes are very hard to find because of the scarcity of these notes and most which survived till today are in the hands of private collectors.Ming dynasty notes are said to be the largest at one point of time but there are more larger notes.

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