The British Museum's collections, £16.99
Length: 108.000 mm
Width: 23.000 mm
Weight: 93.960 g
Gift of S.H. Augier
Room 33: Asia
Silver bar ingot
Thai kingdom of Lanchang (Laos), around AD 1800
A 'tiger's tongue'
From the thirteenth to nineteenth centuries, the monetary system of the Thai people was based on the use of silver ingots, valued by their weight. Each region developed its own distinctive form of bar-shaped ingot. Laos used bars with tapered ends. Because of its shape, one form is known as 'canoe' money; another flatter type with rounded, blunt ends, illustrated here, is called 'tiger's tongue'. Around the rim on one side it has a double border of running dots or small rings, several of which have merged together. In the centre is a line of three snake-like stamps. This particular symbol is known as Na and is commonly said to represent the cobra who protected the Buddha as he lay sleeping.
J. Williams (ed.), Money: a history (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)
O.D. Cresswell, The early coinage of south-eas (Dallas, 1974)