Diameter: 23.500 mm
Weight: 3.250 g
Room 68: Money
Dali yuanbao coin
From Chinese Central Asia
Tang dynasty, Dali reign period, AD 766-79
The Chinese characters on this coin read 'Dali yuan bao', arranged top-right-bottom-left around the square hole. 'Dali' refers to the Dali reign period (AD 766-779). Yuanbao means literally 'first treasure', or 'coin'.
Dali yuanbao coins are found almost exclusively in the north-western region of Xinjiang, China. Recent studies have proved that these coins were made in the state of Qiuci (modern-day Kucha) by Chinese officials during the eighth century, when Tibetan forces blocked the route between mainland China and Central Asia. Although Dali yuanbao coins were not made in mainland China, loyal Chinese officials in far-off Kucha heard there was a change of reign period and cast new coins with the new reign period in the inscription.
H. Wang, 'The Stein collection of coins from Chinese Central Asia' in Studies in Silk Road coins a-1 (Kamakura, Institute of Silk Road Studies, 1997), pp. 187-99
N. Rhodes, 'Tang dynasty coins made in Xinjiang' in Studies in Silk Road coins a-2 (Kamakura, Institute of Silk Road Studies, 1997), pp. 181-86
F. Thierry, 'On the Tang coins collected by Pelliot in Chinese Turkestan (1906-1909)' in Studies in Silk Road coins and (Kamakura, Institute of Silk Road Studies, 1997), pp. 149-79