Spade (Pu) Coins of the Chou Dynasty

(1122-255 BC)

(S- 1- 43)

Like the knife coins of this Dynasty it is though that this form of currency was representative and derived from tools used at the time that were traded for other goods. Full sized tools have been found with a stamp probably of the city where they were made. The idea was a natural to follow into representative smaller pieces. The currency pieces started as fairly large pieces and quickly became smaller for the same denomination. They were all made of cast bronze.

This coin is rather large (about 140-mm in length) and frail, having no legend but rather three lines on both sides. It has a hollow handle that once housed a clay handle; many such pieces have the remnant of that clay handle still in the shaft. The clay handle had a hole in it from which it was strung. It is likely the oldest of all these Pu coins found on this page. It came from the State of Chao. The sample weighs 32 grams.

These two hollow handled coins came from the State of Ch’i, Lu was once a city there. Ch’i-chuan-chin-huo is read from top then to bottom right to left. The three triangles for Ch’i were the pictography that state used to denote perfection. “chuan” is a graphic of a flowing river and chin” (metal) of a nugget or grain of ore found several layers below the surface. “huo” refers to a currency system. The direct translation would be “Perfect Ch’i river metal currency.” Such pieces are commonly 85-mm to 95-mm in length and weigh about 30 to 40 grams, depending on how much clay handle is left.

An-yi was once a capital city of China in its ancient past about 2255-2198 BC, and is still located in Shansi province. These coins are from around 350 BC. “yi-chin is a value one, weighs 12.4 grams and is 55 mm in length. “erh-chin is a value two, weighs 32.4 grams and is 65 mm in length and is about twice as thick.

They are displayed upside down to show correct character reading. Characters are found displayed on these coins as shown and rotated. The sample for S-2 shows this rotation and has “An” on its reverse. These are read  right top to bottom, middle, left top to bottom.

This complex 6-character coin weighs in at 14.8 grams and is 58 mm in length. This piece is a good example to show the dominant Chinese choice in writing standard of reading from top to bottom, right to left, following through in their coinage. Ancient writing may have began on bamboo strips and characters were written top to bottom. Strips were added by stringing and read most often right to left. “huan” refers to the ancient “ring-money” used in paying corporal penalties.

The following spade coins are small by comparison to the above.

For these the standard size was around 45 to 50 mm in length.

Diminutive samples of the square-footed spades were 40 mm or less.

Point-footed were about 50 mm and round-shouldered 55 mm.

The small samples weighed in at 5 grams average.

The common square-foot at 6 grams with a double-thickness type at 12 grams.

The point-footed averaged 6.5 grams and the round-shouldered at 7 grams.

Schjoth was uncertain of these two coins.

He reckoned the  characters to the left of these two pieces as P’ing– tu.

For S-5 Ding Fubao (Fisher’s Ding: FD-175) rendered the coin to read Xiang-p’ing.

The right character of S-4 is most similar to “Ban”, which means half.

S-6 is not shown here because it is undecipherable.

The following six are grouped together for study only because of their common second part name of “-yang”.

Ping-yang was the capital of the empire under Emperor Yao (2356-2258 BC). It was located in present day Shansi province.

An-yang was an ancient city in the State of Wei. It is presently Chang-te in Honan province.

Chai-yang was also of Wei. It was a town to the east of present day K’ai-feng Fu in Honan.

Lu-yang, once a part of the State of Chu, was seized by Wei. Note the left character is in part a pictography of a fish. Of these six this piece is read left to right.

Chin-yang was an old name for T’ai-yuan Fu, the capital of Shansi province. The “-yang” character is more simplified than the others. It is also called a point-footed spade.

Ch’eng-yi is read from left to right. It may have been a town in the State of Lu.

Schjoth had three samples showing the small size, the standard and the double weight (S-31, 32, and 33 respectively).

Confucius held office in Chung-tu, the center of the State of Lu, that city is present day Wen-shang-hsien in Shantung province.

Pei-ch’iu, long gone, was situated where present day Tung-ch’ang Fu in Shantung exists.

Hsiang-yuan was a walled city in the northern State of Han and built by the Viscount of Shao.

Kuan refers to Kuan-chung, the ancient name during the Chin Dynasty of His-an Fu, the capital of Shansi.

This last coin has no legend. Schjoth’s image has been modified to show the common reverses found on so many of this series of coinage.

From the large to the small almost all showed variations of a plain reverse with three lines.






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