Titbit - Ya Sheng Coin

Ya sheng coin, also known as flowery coin, takes the shape of ancient coins but it was not circulated in the market. It originated from a kind of sorcery and was meant to subdue bad luck. The mintage of these coins began during the Western Han Dynasty. From the Wei Dynasty, they were minted whenever there was a sacrificial ceremony in the court. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, they were minted for every new emperor ascending the throne.

There are many types of ya sheng coins for various occasions such as award by emperors to his ministers, birth, wedding, and school entrance.

On one side there are auspicious phrases like "good fortune and good luck", "peace in the world", and "dispelling evil". On the other side are auspicious patterns, such as dragon , phoenix, tortoise, kylin, double fish, sword, the Eight Diagrams (ba gua), the Chinese zodiac , and the big dipper.

Normally, the shape of the flowery coin is round with a square or round hole in the middle but other shapes like rectangle, gourd, two fishes connected by a coin exist, too.

The largest flowery coin is the Jia Jing Tong Bao, in commemoration of the opening of Dongchuan (today's Huize, Yunnan Province) Mintage Bureau. It has a diameter of 58 centimeters (23 inches), a width of 3.5 cm (1.3 inches) and weighs 41.47 kg (91.4 pounds). It has been listed into the Guinness World Records.

Undeniable, ya sheng coin has some superstitious background but during its evolution, the superstitious color faded little by little. Take wei wu zhi zu coin as an example. It was a game by the Qing scholars. Wei wu zhi zu means "only I am not greedy". The highlight is that only half components of these four characters were minted with their common half component kou (mouth) omitted. Then how do we know the meaning? The secret lies with the square hole of it, which was used as the component kou. Read counter-clockwise from three o'clock, the square hole is on the left, below, right and the above the four minted characters, making four new characters.

It is so interesting and instructive, after all not many people could restrain their greed for money.

Ya sheng qian may be regarded as the forerunner of commemorate coins of modern days. Nowadays in many shops we will find a big Chinese knot with a coin in it. The words on the coin read, "invite fortune and welcome treasure".

- Last updated on Aug. 08, 2022 -
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