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Western Zhou Dynasty
Cowry Shell Money
贝币    货币

Cowry shell money was used extensively as a mode of exchange throughout the Far East, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Oceania. In China, the cowries are evidence of broad exchange since they are found in the Indian Ocean. The symbol used to be written and is the symbol for cowry and thus for money, even today. Because the shells were so rare, they were copied in bone, wood, and bronze. Later, bronze pieces replaced the shells as the mode of currency, but during the Zhou and up to the Warring States Period, the cowry was common currency. These shells date to the middle of the Western Zhou Dynasty (947 - 858 BC) and were excavated in Rujiazhuang, Baoji City.

China Index >> Shaanxi History Museum >> Western Zhou Dynasty

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Last update: March 2010
© Marilyn Shea, 2010