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Coins of China
The earliest Chinese proto-coins, as early as 770 - 476 B.C., were imitations of the cowrie shells used in ceremonial exchanges. The first metal coins, also introduced in this period, were not initially round; instead, they were knife shaped or spade shaped. Round metal coins with a round hole, and then later a square hole, in the center were first introduced around 350 B.C. The beginning of the Qin Dynasty (221 - 206 B.C.), the first dynasty to unify China, standardized coinage for the whole Empire. At first, coinage was limited to use around the capital city district but by the beginning of the Han Dynasty, coins were widely used for paying taxes, salaries, and fines. Ancient Chinese coins are markedly different from coins produced in the west. Chinese coins were cast in molds, unlike western coins which were typically struck (hammered) or, in later times, milled. Chinese coins were usually made from bronze, brass, or iron. Precious metals like gold and silver were uncommonly used. The alloys of the coin metals varied considerably. Most Chinese coins were produced with a square hole in the middle. At the mint coins were threaded on a square rod so that the rough edges could be filed smooth on a lathe, after which they were threaded on strings for ease of handling. Official coin production was sometimes spread over many mint locations throughout the country. Aside from officially produced coins, private coining was common during many stages of Chinese history. At times private coining was tolerated, sometimes it was illegal. Some coins were produced in very large numbers. During the Western Han, an average of 220 million coins a year were produced. Some other types were of limited circulation and are extremely rare today.
|Emperor Xiaozong of Song started his reign in 1162 when his adoptive father and predecessor, Gaozong, abdicated and passed the throne to him. Even though Emperor Gao zong became a Taishang Huang ("Retired Emperor") after his abdication, he remained the de facto ruler, so Emperor Xiaozong only fully took over the reins of power in 1187 after Emperor Gaozong's death. After ruling for about a year, Emperor Xiaozong followed in his predecessor's footsteps and abdicated in favor of his third son Zhao Dun (Emperor Guangzong), while he became Taishang Huang and still remained in power until his death in 1194.|
|The Kangxi Emperor is considered one of China's greatest emperors. According to tradition, while the Emperor Shen Zu was intimately associated with the European missionaries, he grew contempt for Buddhism and had a set of 18 brass images of the Luo-han Arhat (the 18 "vernerable" attendants of Buddha) melted down and cast into cash. The brass was said to contain a considerable portion of gold. Although analysis has shown that these coins do not contain any gold, great demand for these "Lohan cash" persists in China.|