Chinese cash (currency unit)

Chinese cash (currency unit)
Coins of Imperial China (Song through Qing Dynasties) and some similar Japanese and Korean coins

The cash (Chinese: ; pinyin: wén) was a currency denomination used in China between 621 and 1948[citation needed]. It was the chief denomination until the introduction of the yuan in the late 19th century.



The English term "cash" was first used on coins issued in Kwangtung (Guangdong) Province in 1900. It did not appear on paper money. This name was derived from the Tamil kāsu, a South Indian monetary unit[citation needed]. The plural forms "cash" and "cashes" were both used. The English word "cash", meaning "tangible currency", is an older word from Middle French caisse.[1]. The Chinese character 文 (pinyin: wén) has several other meanings in modern Chinese. [1]


The wén was introduced as a denomination used on cast coins in 621[citation needed]. It became one of the chief units of currency and was used to denominate both coins and paper money. Other denominations were used, including various weights, based on the tael system, for sycee silver and gold ingots[2].

Until the 19th century, coins denominated in wén were cast, the most common formation being the round-shaped copper coin with a square or circular hole in the centre[2]. The hole enabled the coins to be strung together to create higher denominations, as was frequently done due to the coin's low value. The number of coins in a string of cash (simplified Chinese: 一贯钱; traditional Chinese: 一貫錢; pinyin: yīguànqián) varied over time and place but was nominally 1000[3]. A string of 1000 wén was supposed to be equal in value to one tael (liǎng) of pure silver[4]. Each string of cash was divided in ten sections of 100. The person who strung the cash into a string took one, two, or three cash per hundred, depending on local custom, as payment for his effort. So, in fact, an ounce of silver could vary in exchange from 970 to 990 cash (or more) between two places fairly close together.[5]. In places in the North where there was a shortage of coinage a string of 500 or 500 exchanged for an ounce of silver. Paper money sometimes showed pictures of the appropriate number of 1 wén coins strung together.

In the 19th century, foreign coins began to circulate widely in China, particularly silver coins such as the Mexican peso. In 1889, Chinese currency began to be denominated in the yuan and its subdivisions. The cash or wén was retained in this system as 11000 yuan. Traditional style, cast 1 wén coins continued to be produced until the end of the Chinese Empire in 1911. The last coins denominated in cash were struck in the early years of the Republic of China in 1924.


A Republic of China 10 wén (cash) coin minted between 1912 and 1920

Numerous authorities issued coins denominated in wén in the nineteenth century, including departments of the Imperial government (The Board of Revenue and Board of Public Works) together with provincial authorities. Most coins were 1 wén denominations, but denominations of 5, 10, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 wén were also issued. After the introduction of the yuan, coins were struck in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 cash or wén.

Paper money

A 2000 wén note from 1859

The world's first paper money, issued in China between the 7th and 15th centuries, was denominated in wén. The notes carried depictions of coins, sometimes in strings of ten. The notes of the Yuan dynasty suffered from hyperinflation due to over production without sufficient coins to back them and were withdrawn. Paper money reappeared in the 19th century. In 1853, notes were introduced in denominations of 500, 1000 and 2000 wén. 5000 wén notes followed in 1856, with 10,000, 50,000 and 100,000 wén notes added in 1857. The last of these notes were issued in 1859.

External influence

Early Korean and Japanese currencies, the Korean mun and Japanese mon, were derived from the Chinese wén and written with the same character. In 1695, the Shogunate placed the Japanese character gen () on the obverse of copper coins.[6] Vietnam gained independence from China in 938 and merely carried on the tradition of using cash. The first Vietnamese cash was issued in 968.

See also


  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001). "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2007-04-11. 
  2. ^ a b Krause, Chester L. and Clifford Mishler (1991). Standard Catalog of World Coins: 1801–1991 (18th ed. ed.). Krause Publications. ISBN 0873411501. 
  3. ^ "Definition of guàn (貫)" (in Chinese). Retrieved August 25 2010. 
  4. ^ Fredrik Schöth. Chinese Currency. Revised and edited by Virgil Hancock. Iola, WI, USA: Krause, 1965.
  5. ^ Morse, Hosea Ballou (2005). The Trade and Administration of the Chinese Empire. Adamant Media Company. p. 131. ISBN 1402184042. 
  6. ^ Isaac Titsingh. (1834). [Siyun-sai Rin-siyo/Hayashi Gahō, 1652]. Nipon o daï itsi ran; ou, Annales des empereurs du Japon.] Paris: Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland. (Digitized text copy (French)) p. 415.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать реферат

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Chinese cash — has several meanings: Cash (Chinese coin) (方孔錢 fāng kǒng qián), a type of copper coin used in imperial China Cash (unit) (厘 lí), a Chinese unit of weight equivalent to 1⁄1000 tael, and a currency equivalent to that weight in silver Chinese cash… …   Wikipedia

  • Chinese customs gold unit — 海關金單位兌換券 1 (Chinese) …   Wikipedia

  • Cash (currency) — The cash is a name for several historical currencies used in Asia. It is applied to units used in China, Vietnam, and Madras in British India. It is also occasionally used to refer to the Korean mun and the Japanese mon. Skr. karsha a weight of… …   Wikipedia

  • Cash chino — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Cash chino † 文 en chino …   Wikipedia Español

  • Cash (disambiguation) — Cash may refer to: NOTOC *Cash, a term for money *Cash (Chinese coin) (方孔錢 fāng kǒng qián ), a type of struck copper coin with a hole in the middle used in East Asia *Cash (currency), the name of several historical currency units in Asia… …   Wikipedia

  • Cash — usually refers to money in the form of currency, such as banknotes and coins. In bookkeeping and finance, cash refers to current assets comprised of currency or currency equivalents that can be accessed immediately or near immediately (as in the… …   Wikipedia

  • Chinese yuan — This article is about the Chinese base unit of currency known as the yuan. For the modern Chinese currency used in the People s Republic of China, see Renminbi. Kuai redirects here. For a Chinese dish, see Kuai (dish). Collection of Chinese… …   Wikipedia

  • Chinese currency — Han Dynasty cash coin The Renminbi (Chinese: 人民币) is the official currency of the People s Republic of China (PRC). It is the legal tender in mainland China, but not in Hong Kong and Macau. It is abb …   Wikipedia

  • Cash (Chinese coin) — A cash (zh cpl|c=方孔錢|p=fāng kǒng qián|l=square holed money, 銅錢 tóng qián copper money, or 銅錢 tóng bì copper currency ) was a type of coin of China and East Asia from the 2nd Century BC until the AD 20th century.TerminologyThe English term cash… …   Wikipedia

  • Chinese coins — Ancient Chinese coins were produced continuously for around 2,500 years by casting in moulds, rather than being struck with dies as with most western coins.Collectors can obtain affordable yet old, beautiful, and interesting coins associated with …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”