MALAYSIA, PERAK, tin tampang ingot, 16th century – circa 1850


MALAYSIA, PERAK, tampang ingot, no date (16th century. – c. 1850), a crude, strip bent double & crimped at both ends, tin, 42x6x6mm, 9.1g, similar to Singh-7-10,

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Tin production became a big thing in the Malay peninsula starting in the 16th century. Tin coins were made, and larger units circulated locally. People would make small ingots convenient for carrying around.

Southern Southeast Asia and the near to Asia Islands are a cultural transition zone, where outsiders, mostly Indians and Chinese, but also people from the Middle East and even Europe, did business with locals since around the first century AD. Early coins were struck silver and gold after the Indian fashion, starting in the early centuries AD. Chinese style cast coins with center holes came late, mostly issued as tokens by Chinese traders. In the medieval period the local commodity metal, tin, was cast in conveniently sized lumps and shapes, and the ingots traded in commerce.

China calls itself “Central Country.” That is in reference to the vast Asian hinterland that is not China, and to the island peoples out in the Pacific Ocean. Because China tended to do organizational things earliest in that part of the world, the outsiders would notice and adopt useful practices that they observed. Among those borrowed cultural practices was the adoption of the money economy to replace direct barter, or to replace less convenient shapes of metal, rings and tools and jewelry bits. The Chinese style of market money being square holed cast bronze coins, that became the form of the coins made in Korea, Japan, Vietnam, the islands out to Java, into Siberia and as far west as Kazakhstan.