Ancient Chinese currency has a long and storied history. Through the permeation of more than 5,000 years of Chinese civilization, an ancient Chinese currency culture gradually evolved. This culture developed complete systems and boasts rich content, clear roots, broad connotations and pronounced distinctiveness, becoming an important part of China’s outstanding traditional culture. It is unique in the history of world currencies and has had a profound impact on the currencies used by neighboring countries and regions. It is also important material evidence that reflects the continuous and splendid Chinese civilization of more than five thousand years.
This exhibition selects more than 1,800 treasures from the NMC’s collection of more than 200,000 Chinese currency artifacts, supplemented by more than 200 other types of cultural relics and divided into two sections. The currency displayed in this exhibition ranges from primitive seashells to early knife-shaped coins, spade-shaped coins and ring-shaped coins, from the round coins with square holes in the center that were used for two thousand years, to the machine-made copper and silver dollars used in the late Qing Dynasty. The artifacts boast clear historical roots and great diversity. Included are different forms of metal coins and various kinds of paper money from as far back as the Yuan Dynasty, as well as currency in circulation and coins that reflect ancient Chinese folk culture. Also included is representative currency that reflects the superb ancient Chinese calligraphy art and various kinds of coin molds, coin samples and paper money printing plates that showcase the development of ancient coin casting techniques. The exhibition also introduces matching cultural relics closely related to the economic and social life of the past dynasties, striving to present the historical evolution of ancient Chinese currency in a comprehensive and three-dimensional way while reflecting its rich connotations related to ancient Chinese politics, economics, military affairs, art, science and technology.
The collection of ancient Chinese currency held by the National Museum of China is considerable in size. It includes a large number and complete range of categories, covering various time periods and types of currency, and most of the artifacts are in good condition. It contains the most first-grade cultural relics anywhere on earth, and it can truly be considered one of the highlights of the NMC. It provides incomparable abundant physical resources for the study of Chinese numismatics, the history of Chinese currency, the history of ancient Chinese commerce and the history of the ancient Chinese economy, among other fields.
The National Museum of China is proud to present the special exhibition “Ancient Chinese Currency,” which aims to systematically showcase the historical lineage of Chinese civilization’s origins and development, its splendid achievements and significant contributions to world civilization, highlight the long history and profundity of Chinese culture, and enhance cultural confidence through the medium of currency.