Collection online

imitation / coin

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Uniface imitation of Byzantine gold coin.(obverse) Three-quarter face bust of Justinian I.
    (reverse) Blank.

  • Date

    • 6thC
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Weight: 0.85 grammes
    • Diameter: 16 millimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Stein 1928, p.646: "The fact that out of the four coins actually found by us in the mouths of Astana corpses three are Byzantine gold pieces or imitations of such pieces (Ast.i.3.023; Ast.i.5.08; Ast.i.6.03) and one a Sasanian silver coin (Ast.v.2.02) might naturally predispose us to connect this practice with the ancient Greek custom of placing a coin between the lips of the dead as the fare to Charon, the ferryman of Hades. But the reference with which M. Chavannes kindly supplied me in 1916 to a Buddhist story in the Chinese Tripitaka suggests that the custom was not unknown in the Far East also. [fn4: See Chavannes, Cinq cents contes et apologues extraits du Tripitaka chinois, i, p.248] It must further be borne in mind that as China had never had a gold or silver coinage, those who at Turfan wished to provide their dead with an adequate obolus for the journey to the world beyond would necessarily have to use a coin of Western origin for their pious purpose, if they wished it to be of precious metal."
    Stein 1928, p.649: ""From the head of the other body, (b), which may have been that of a woman, was recovered the fragmentary face-cover of polychrome figured silk, Ast.i.6.01, showing 'Sasanian' pattern with a boar's head and pearl border, similar to Ast.i.5.03 (Pl.LXXVI), but smaller. Underneath was found the pair of silver spectacles, Ast.i.6.07 (Pl.LXXXIX). The mouth of (b) held a thin gold coin (Pl.CXX), struck on one side only, showing the three-quarter face bust of Justinian I, as it appears on the Byzantine coins of which this and the gold pieces from Ast.i.3 and Ast.i.5 are undoubtedly imitations. Two Wu-zhu [pinyin: wuzhu] coins, in perfect condition, were found near the head of (b)."


  • Bibliography

    • Wang 2004 p.239 bibliographic details
    • Stein 1928 p.649 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G68/dc11/p1

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition notes

    Registration nos beginning IA refer to coins acquired on Stein's Third Central Asian Expedition, and published in his book Innermost Asia.

  • Department

    Coins & Medals

  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • Ast.i.6.03 (Stein no.)
    • HSBC.940 (Money Gallery Exhibited)
Uniface imitation of Byzantine gold coin, showing three-quarter face bust of Justinian I.

Obverse & Reverse

Uniface imitation of Byzantine gold coin, showing three-quarter face bust of Justinian I.

Image description



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