ANCIENT CHINA thread ring WU ZHU (146-190 AD)


CHINA, EASTERN HAN Dynasty, 25-221 AD, cash, no date (146-190 AD), Obverse: WU ZHU, Reverse: outer rim, inside cut away, “thread ring,” bronze, 25mm, GF-B4.342, H10.27, VF

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Wu Zhus were made again after the demise of Wang Mang. As the Han Dynasty’s control slipped the Wu Zhus continued to be made by local successor states.

The Wu Zhu coins were made as a centralizing reform to replace the Ban Liangs.

At the end Zhou period Qin state became dominant. Qin Shi Huangdi became first Emperor of united China. The Han Dynasty followed, China grew prosperous. A minister, Wang Mang, usurped the throne 7-25 AD. His administrative experimentation brought famine and war. Han returned. The political situation deteriorated until China broke up into independent regions.

The oldest Chinese coins are at least as old as the earliest Greek coins. The Chinese coinage system differed from other systems in two ways. It was monometallic, only bronze coins circulated in general commerce. Gold and silver were treated as commodities. And the manufacturing method was by casting in moulds rather than by striking heated solid planchets. The main reference I use in attributing and describing these coins is the book: Chinese Cast Coins, by David Hartill.