Length: 76.000 mm
Height: 30.000 mm
Weight: 32.720 g
Room 33: Asia
Bronze knife coin inlaid with gold
Wang Mang period, issued AD 7
One knife, worth 5000
This distinctive coin combines features of ancient knife money and the traditional round coin with the square hole. The Chinese inscription reads 'yi dao ping wu qian' ('one knife, worth 5000') with 'yi dao' written in the round part at the top, and 'ping wu qian' reading down the body.
Wang Mang (reigned AD
9-23) was the nephew of Emperor Yuandi (reigned 48-33 BC) of the
Han dynasty and became one of the most powerful officials of the
late Western Han dynasty (206 BC - AD 9). His worthy deeds,
including donations of a million
Wang Mang instituted four coinage reforms in a space of just seven years (AD7, 9, 10, 14), issuing twenty-one different kinds of coins. He also reintroduced the spade- and knife-shaped money which had circulated under the Zhou dynasty over two hundred years before. This coin had a token, decimal value, rather than the value of the amount of metal they contained. The reforms were revolutionary but not successful.