|This is a Ban Liang coin. A liang is still a standard unit of weight equivalent to 50 grams. This coin is a half liang so weighs in the neighborhood of 25 to 30 grams. The characters "ban liang" are inscribed on the coin making their worth quite clear. There is a square hole in the round coin which became the standard shape for coins in later dynasties. They could be strung on strings and exchanged as units of a hundred or a thousand. Quite a thing to carry shopping. These coins date to the Warring States Period of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (475 - 221 BC).
During the Qin Dynasty an attempt was made to establish the ban liang as the standard of currency, but it didn't go over. During the Han Dynasty there were various versions cast, including: Yujia Banliang, Bazhu Banliang, Wufen Banliang, and Sanzhu Banliang.
Last update: March 2010
© Marilyn Shea, 2010