Ban liang: coin of Chinese Empire (Western Han)


Ban liang, 180-157: Chinese Empire (Western Han)

Ban liang, 180-157: Chinese Empire (Western Han)

Uniface round coin with a square hole in the center.

ND (no date). — For this particular coin, the date is very approximate, as it has been issued in the same design for a long time, and different numismatic sources give different versions of the date.

Ruler: Wen of Han (漢文帝) — 5th emperor of the Western Han dynasty in China from 180 to 157 BC (approximate attribution).

The characters 半兩 (placed from right to left: traditionally for ancient China) denote the denomination and, accordingly, the weight — ban liang (translated as "half a liang").

At the time of issue of this particular coin (if the attribution is correct in this case) the ban liang equated to 4 zhu.

As for the dating, information also differs regarding the material from which this ban liang was made: some catalogs indicate bronze, while others state that the coin was cast from lead.

  • Bronze: 23 mm - 2.35 g
  • Reference price: 12$

COIN BAN LIANG — WHERE & WHEN (coins catalog: by names & emitents)
  1. ANCIENT CHINA (4th-2nd centuries BC): ban liang = 1/2 liang

BAN LIANG as coin name.
Ban liang (Chinese "半兩") — an ancient bronze coin of China equal to 12 zhu (1 liang = 24 zhu). That is, we are talking about half a liang. It one of the earliest round Chinese coins containing inscriptions. Was made by casting method.
Ban liang was issued from the 4th to the 2nd centuries BC (some sources, however, indicate a wider time frame).
The appearance of the first ban liang is attributed to the final stage of the Warring States Period (Zhànguó Shídài) in Chinese history.
However, this coin became popular after the unification of China in 221 BC. Emperor Qin Shi Huang around 210 BC carried out the unification of the disparate monetary systems of individual states and introduced the new ban liang as the first common currency for all of China.
In modern numismatics, there are three main types of ban liangs: the Warring States Period, the Qin Dynasty, and the Han Dynasty (Western Han).
All varieties have a laconic legend in common: two characters — 半兩 — denoting the denomination ("half liang"). Also unchanged were the square hole in the center and the uniface of the coin (the reverse did not contain any legends or images), typical of Chinese coins of that time. Ban liangs differed in weight: some types weighed 5-7 grams, while others were twice as light. It is also known about a very small variety: barely more than 0.4 grams (according to assumptions — a private release ordered by the emperor)... and also about an iron, completely atypical, ban liang.
In the collections, sometimes there are ban liangs with all kinds of additional graphic elements: a crescent and a star, vertical lines, dots...
The ban liang (which eventually had a weight and, accordingly, a denomination of 4 zhu) was replaced by a coin that was destined to become the main coin for many centuries to come — wu zhu: 5 zhu. It was used for about seven hundred years in a row.
The name of the ban liang coin literally means "half of a liang". In turn, liang (liǎng or tael) is the basic measure of weight both in ancient China and today. However, at different times this value had different values: from 13.8 to 50 grams.