These Ban Liang coins were the first unified currency of Imperial China, a system introduced by China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huang around 210 BCE. Drawing from an earlier design first produced during the Warring States period, Ban Liang were produced until the early Western Han dynasty, when they were eventually replaced with the equally iconic Wu Zhu coins.
The name "Ban Liang" translates to "Half-Ounce," reflecting its weight and value in the ancient monetary system. This denomination was not just a mere representation of value but also a testament to the emperor's vision of standardizing weights, measures, and currency across his realm. The Qin economy, which had started its journey towards monetization in the mid-fourth century, saw various bronze coins in circulation. By 210 BCE, the first emperor amplified the issuance of these "half-ounce" coins, further solidifying their place in the economic landscape. Interestingly, the Qin also employed standard-sized bolts of cloth as an exchange medium, where a single length of cloth equated to eleven of these coins.
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