CHINA ZHOU Dynasty 1122-255 BC wawa proto-money


CHINA, ZHOU Dynasty, 1122-255 BC, item assumed to be in the wawa series, Obverse: an onion dome on a tongue with 2 bumps, with 2 tabs in back that should have holes in them for mounting but these have no holes, bronze, about 50x19x5mm overall, about 6.5g, F

8 in stock

SKU: 2979120 Categories: ,


I have a total of 8 of these, all from the same ancient workshop. Contact me if you want to buy them all. If you are buying less than all of them it will be my choice.

Ancient things are sometimes found singly, but more often found in small hoards. The hoards are sometimes someone’s life savings put in the ground for safe keeping, and sometimes they are some portion of the output of a job that someone made in some workshop.

There are a variety of small bronze items that have been speculatively considered to have been some kind of local money, but they are not mentioned in the classical Chinese monetary and numismatic books. Notwithstanding, some of these objects are found in such large quantities that it seems reasonable to consider them as money objects. The idea that enigmatic bronze objects were early forms of Chinese “money” was popularized in Europe by a monograph written by H. A. Ramsden in 1912.

Zhou dynasty was a confederation of little kingdoms with a figurehead Emperor. Various constituent states started using money in their commercial activities. Odd shaped coins such as spade, knife, ant, nose, yibi, and possible money items like fish and cicada money were followed by the early round coins.

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.