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The art and application of Qing Palace Coin

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发表于 2019-3-22 12:26:00 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
By:Lu Xin
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After thousands of years of development and evolution, there is a vast variety of Chinese coins. Not only does it act as medium of exchange, other cultural attributes such as blessings, warding off evil spirits, and coins appreciation have also become more apparent. The use of coins hinges on the identity of the holder. In the Qing Dynasty, the coins crafted for the royal family were called "Gong Qian (Palace Coin)". The purpose of Palace Coin includes sacrificial offerings, celebrations, rewards, birthdays, enjoyment, fortune telling, support, etc., which represents the supreme status of the royal family. The materials, specifications and craftsmanship are necessarily in line with the royal ceremonial culture for thousands of years.

The production of the Palace Coin reflected the superb craftsmanship as the Imperial Workshops at that time brought the top craftsmen of the country together. At the era of Kangxi, the Imperial Workshops were established as a official handicraft factory; During the year of  Qianlong, more than forty kinds of work could be done in the Workshops. The division of labor was getting finer, and some crafts and designs were superimposed with various techniques, as is the case for the production of Palace Coin. The applied materials, ornamentation, and even from the perspective of fine art, Palace Coin is no less inferior to other kinds of court art.
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The Qing Dynasty celebrated the New Year's Day, the next day of winter solstice and the Wanshou Festival. New Year's Day is the beginning of the first year; the winter solstice is the beginning of Yang, and Wanshou Festival is the birth of the emperor. "Qingshou (Birth Celebration)" was one of the important ceremonies of the Qing Palace. The emperor's birthday "Wanshou Festival", the Queen's birthday "Qianqiu Festival", and the Empress Dowager's birthday "Shenshou Festival" must all be celebrated. Ceremony 7 in chapter 13 of "Sequel to the Palace History" describes, "Shouqing celebration every five years; country celebration every ten years; A morning assembly is raised by the vassal and conducted every ten years."

Different types of Palace Coin were derived from different ceremonies. The writings on them were graceful and splendid and with a sense of nobleness. The themes encompass praying for good harvest and weather, sacrifices for the benefit of the people, blessings, rewards, birthdays, weddings, bean raising ceremonies and so on.  In the case of sacrifices rituals and blessings,  auspicious themes usually include: "World Peace", "Prosperous Country and People at Peace", "Be in the Ascendant", "Bestow More Happiness and Blessings on the Receivers", "Jue Wei Xiu Xiang", "Chun Qi Xi Xian", "Hou De Guang Fu", "Jia Se Zi Ren", etc.

The tradition of sacrificing to heavens could be traced back to the Shang dynasty. This was a kind of worship of the Huaxia people to the heavens and the earth. The emperors of all past dynasties claimed to be "the Son of Heaven", and the imperial edict always began with "Feng Tian Cheng Ming", expressing a tradition of ruling in the name of god to teach and govern the people. There were three sacrificing ceremonies attended by the emperor each year: Heaven and Earth, Society, and Ancestral Shrine. The process comprised of libation, litany reading, and coins offering. It can be seen that the coins offerings have also been an important part of the sacrificing since ancient times. The Qing dynasty Coin Offering Palace Coin was originated from this tradition, and it was common in the Years of Tongzhi and Guangxu in the late Qing Dynasty.
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"Thousand Seniors Feast" was a large-scale banquet for the purpose of respecting the elderly, held by the nobles of the Qing Dynasty, which was similar to the get-together nowadays. Two types of silver medal of the "Thousand Seniors Feast" can be seen presently - both are elliptical and auspicious-cloud-shaped. The obverse is the words in regular script: "Taishang Huangdi Yu Ci Yang Lao (Retired Emperor Bestowed Upon Elderly)", encircled with Two dragons playing with a pearl as well as sea water and cliff motifs. The reverse is carved in "Bing Chen Nian Huang Ji Dian Qian Sou Yan Zhong Shi Liang (Thousand Seniors Feast at Hall of Great Supremacy in 1676, 10 Taels)"; The observe of the other type is a four-word regular script:  "Yu Ci Yang Lao (Bestowed Upon Elderly)", shared the same dragon and cliff patterns, while the reverse carved in "Qianlong Wu Shi Nian Qian Sou Yan Zhong Shi Wu Liang (Thousand Seniors Feast in Qianlong 55th year, 15 Taels)". Rarely the silver medals have been passed down.

There is a renowned item in the category of birthday blessings Palace Coin - that is "Wan Shou Wu Jiang Bei Da Ya (Boundless Longevity with 'Daya' at back)" Palace Coin, which was minted for the 60th birthday of the Empress Dowager Cixi. The money is huge and heavy. The 4-letter words on the head "Wan Shou Wu Jiang" was written by Cixi, while the words "Daya" at the tail is in seal script. Its handwriting was same as the "Wan Shou Wu Jiang" inscribed board at Hall of Dispelling Clouds, located at the front of Longevity Hill at the Summer Palace. Both were written by Cixi.  "Da Ya" stands for "Da Ya Zhai", which was usually used by Cixi. Her paintings were often autographed by "Da Ya Zhai", while there is guan ware porcelain with "Da Ya Zhai" extant today.
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The most prevailing Qing Dynasty Palace Coin is "Feng Xian Dian Tian Xia Tai Ping (Hall of Ancestry Worship World Peace)" Palace Coin, commonly referred as " Taiping Money", with year on the observe side and "Tian Xia Tai Ping (World Peace)" on  reverse. Currently the coins with the Year of Qianlong, Jiaqing, Daoguang, Xianfeng, Tongzhi, Guangxu, Xuantong are found. Taiping Money was firstly mentioned in "Da Qian Tu Lu (Money Catalog)" written by Bao Kang in the 2nd year of Guangxu (1876). It recorded the coins in the Year of Xianfeng, Tongzhi, Guangxu, and proved "The four corners of cloth-wrappers used in the Hall of Ancestor Worship were all tied to this coin. When the emperor died, the new emperor recasts the coins with a new year and replaced the old money with new ones".

This kind of Palace Coin must be crafted by the Imperial Workshop of the Forbidden City, and its mintage was probably in the Year of Tongzhi and Guangxu in the late Qing Dynasty. An exhibition was once held in“Yilan Pavilion”of the Forbidden City, displaying the wedding ceremony and the congratulatory gifts of Puyi, the last emperor of the Dynasty. One of the exhibits was a silver-gilt Palace Coin with words“Tian Xia Tai ping (World Peace)”. The differences are a wider inner circle and twill lines. The coin was tied to one end of the lace of a bright yellow satin cloth-wrapper, which was used to hold down the heavy objects.  In accordance with "Da Qian Tu Lu, "The four corners of cloth-wrappers used in the Hall of Ancestor Worship were all tied to this coin", in which the purpose of the coin was described.

Similarly, there is the "Tian Xia Tai Ping" Palace Coin in Manchu alphabets or Chinese ,used in various memorial occasions such as beam raising. The ritual of beam raising was necessary in ancient times to pray for a sturdy house, richness and long-lasting. Several  coins were put in the box or stuck on the cloth, and then put it on the beam to get rid of the evil spirits and pursue good fortune. This custom is continued to the present. Folks often use "Tai Ping", "Five-Emperor Money" and other auspicious coins as "beam raising coin". Precious metals such as gold and silver were usually used in the palace.
Hall of Mental Cultivation has been renovated in 2018 for the celebration of the 600th birthday of the Forbidden City in 2020. A ‘treasure box’ time capsule was unveiled with five ingots of different metals (gold, silver, copper, iron and tin), five samples of herbal medicines, five cereal seeds, Buddhist sutras and crystals and pearls  in it in the hopes of good fortune. In the meanwhile, 24 gold coins bearing the Manchu alphabets and the Chinese words “World Peace” were also found in the box, which proves the wide usage and multi-purpose of Palace Coin.

As one of the top categories in the Qing Dynasty coins, Palace Coins have always been shrouded in mystery. The lack of documentation brings difficulties to the study of Qing Dynasty Palace Coin. The purpose, use and signification can be explored by investigating the physical coins in hand and figuring out their historical background and environment - you are being invited to go on a voyage to the royal world. At least some points and inferences can be summarized below:

First of all, Palace Coin is suitable in a wide range of application, ranging from sacrificial offerings, blessings, appreciations, rewards to decorations such as tying to cloth-wrapper, pendant lamp, and so on. Secondly, the craftmanship of Palace Coins was increasingly elaborate and complex. They were basically crafted by the Imperial Workshop, and was even of direct participation and supervision by the emperor. Therefore, the standard of the Palace Coin is on same level as other court art. Third,  the special materials used, craftsmanship and specifications shows the unique structure of Palace Coin - it was the embodiment of  its royal spirit.

(The article is excerpted from "Palace of the Qing Dynasty - Palace Coin in the hands of the Emperor". The full text is available in the Shouxi.com.)
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发表于 2019-3-22 14:53:07 | 显示全部楼层
敬谢管理老师上传共享
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发表于 2019-3-22 20:03:13 | 显示全部楼层
好文章,也看到中文版了: http://coin.shouxi.com/news/opinion/2019/0322/5309.html
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