Moneta Gallery Coin Museum



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Ancient Stone carved cowrie - Chinese
Ancient Stone carved cowrie - Chinese

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Moneta



Registered: August 2005
Location: Arizona USA
Posts: 1,866
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This has to be a premier example of an imitation cowry. Every detail has been reproduced in an open-backed cowry carved in stone! Thus it might be considered a very early form of man-made money, perhaps pre-dating the copper/bronze types. Also, this one shows evidence of having been colored (red ochre?).
As everywhere at the dawn of culture, barter was used in China in prehistorical times. Soon periodical markets were held, especially along the borders to neighbouring realms. According to Chinese tradition this happened at the time of the legendary emperor Shen-Nun (2737-2697 AD). Through such markets the Chinese came in contact with cowrie shells for the first time. Since these cowries were popular embellishments, they soon became standards of value the first "coins."
To satisfy the demands of trade and everyday use, large numbers of cowries were needed. And the supply was in constant danger: unpaid taxes and the chaos of war could easily lead to shortages. Hence from about 1350 BC, people began to imitate cowries from clay, bronze, or, like the piece shown here, from stone. This stone cowrie probably dates from the 7th century BC.
Cowries, whether real or imitations, were not yet "real" coins. Coins always bear the official mark of some issuing authority such as a mint; with cowrie shells, this was not the case. Hence, they are referred to as pre-coinage means of payment.
This is 22 x 16 x 7 mm; 2.60 gm - Very Scarce with this intricate detailed carving.
Moneta Library has articles on Cowries to VIEW and DOWNLOAD:
Cowries - Bob Reis: [ link ]
Origin of Cowries in Ancient China - UofPa: [ link ]
Metallic Cowries - Royal Asiatic Society: [ link ]
Nice Video on Cowrie history: [ link ]
· Date: September 8, 2007 · Views: 11,162 · Filesize: 29.5kb, 80.1kb · Dimensions: 850 x 375 ·
Keywords: Chinese Stone carved cowry cowrie
Additional Categories: Archaic: Cowries, Spades & Knives

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