Yansheng Coin (simplified Chinese: 厌胜钱; traditional Chinese: 厭勝錢; pinyin: yàn shèng qián), is a kind of special coin used mainly for ritual uses. It was very popular in ancient China and even the Republic of China era. Normally these coins are privately funded or cast, such as by a rich family for their own family ceremony.
The collection (e.g. antique collection, coin collection) of this kind of coins has a long history, and has been very popular since the Western Han Dynasty. Normally this kind of coins are heavily decorated, have complicated patterns, and even engraved.
Its formal name and pronunciation would be Yasheng coin/money (simplified Chinese: 压胜钱; traditional Chinese: 押胜钱; pinyin: yā shèng qián), but nowadays Yansheng is more widely known.
In Shuowen Jiezi, it records: "厌，笮也，今人作压。" ("Yā(厌), bamboo ritual ware, nowadays (Western Han Dynasty period) people use as Yā (压)), which would imply the original meaning of Yasheng is for terrifying ghosts away and praying for victory.
Sometimes, the nickname for Yansheng coin also includes so-called "flower coin" or "patterned coin" (simplified Chinese: 花钱; traditional Chinese: 花錢; pinyin: huā qián).
History and usage
Yansheng coins were first appeared during the Western Han Dynasty. It was mainly originated from necromancy, for propitious wishes, terrifying ghosts, lucky money, or even for praying the victory of a war.
This kind of coins has several different styles:
- carved/engraved (Chinese: 镂空品; pinyin: lòukōng pǐn)
- with animal
- with people
- with plants
- words/characters on coin (Chinese: 钱文品; pinyin: qián wén pǐn)
- sentences/wishes (Chinese: 吉语品; pinyin: jí yǔ pǐn)
- Chinese zodiac/zodiac (Chinese: 生肖品; pinyin: shēngxiào pǐn)
- Taoism/Bagua (Chinese: 八卦品; pinyin: bāguà pǐn), or Buddhism gods (Chinese: 神仙佛道品; pinyin: shénxiān fú dào pǐn)
- Horses/military (Chinese: 打马格品; pinyin: dǎ mǎ gé pǐn)
- Abnormal or combined styles (Chinese: 异形品; pinyin: yìxíng pǐn)
- Baidu.com Encyclopaedia: Yansheng Coin (厌胜钱)
- "笮" in pinyin is zé or zuó. Zé appeared earlier, and original meant "bamboo ware to contain arrows", so it's a military ware (for war and hunting). Zuó came later, which means "rope made of bamboo rips".
- Shuowen Jiezi (a Chinese dictionary of Western Han Dynasty), by Xu Shen
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