A Fantasy Coin With  Ancient Connections,The "Wind, Flowers, Snow and Moon"
Exhibit A. Obverse:"Wind, Flowers, Snow and Moon"
Many a time had I been faced with searching questions by fellow members of the Malaysian Numismatic Society (MNS) on the coin illustrated below (Exhibit A); questions as to when it was produced, who made it, for whom was it cast, the purpose to served, the meaning of the Chinese characters, on the obverse, and the reasons for the display of human couples in the four standard natural positions of blissful fulfillment.

Reverse: Pictures of frolicking love scenes of a couple of man and woman
I ( refer to Mr. E.E.Sim, the late President of MNS) had given my explanations to the inquirers; some accepted them in toto, some with a pinch of salt, while others described it was a "joy coin" or "gift coin" or even a pornographic issue.
My research has revealed what other numismatic books say of this type of coin.

1. An authority on Chinese ancient coins had this to say in his book, "An Illustration of Chinese Ancient Coins" by Orlando Y. Tsai (published in 1973 in then Taiwan, Republic of China, pages 438-439):

Congratulatory expressions were widely used not only on social occasion but were also found in writing. Thus they also appeared on coins presented as gifts to friends. This was already common during the Period of the Warring States. On one side of the coin was imprinted the character "JI" (meaning "lucky" or "propitious"). This coin was one of the earliest imprinted with words meaning "luck."

Later, during the "Qin" and "Han" Dynasties, people imprinted on the half-tael and 5-zhu coins such inscriptions as "Great Wealth and Honour", "Happiness Without End", "Blessed With Many Descendants", "House Filled With Gold and Jade", "Harmonious King Lords Relationship", "Forever In Each Other's Thoughts." During the reigns of Eastern Han, Wei and Jin, coins carried propitious inscriptions denoting good luck on their reverse sides. On the obverse side were carved a variety of floral designs. These coins were specially minted for the sole purpose of giving of gifts. When, actually, did such coins come into existence? For now there is no way to find out. However, they should have been in fairly wide circulation after the passing of the Six Dynasties. At present there is a fairly large number of coins with propitious inscription minted by the Tang and Sung Dynasties used as gifts. These inscriptions consisting of 7 or 8 or even more then 10 characters were accompanied by elaborate designs such as "The Three Lights", "The Eight Treasures", "Sea Tide", "The Rising Sun" and "The Roaming Immortals in Flight" and so on.
Obverse:"Wind, Flowers, Snow and Moon".
W:31.45gm. D:43.00mm. T:2.50mm. 
Beginning from the Ming and Qing Dynasties the designs took on a new trend. This included a hole in the coin and propitious words were conveyed in a veiled fashion by flowers like the lotus blooms and pictures of babies. This is a play on the sound of the Chinese characters and was to mean "begetting many sons." Where the carving consisted of a clump of bamboos and a magpie, the concealed meaning is "good tidings!"(Note: "Magpie" in Mandarin is "Xique." "XI" is also "happy". This is play on words.) The imagination combined with the exquisite workmanship is a wonder to behold.

Joy money.
There is no greater joy for the family than the joy of birthday and wedding. Of the old coins now in existence, there is one concerning birthday celebrations. Of these there is one with a diameter measuring about 6 cm. On the obverse side of the coin are words "Longevity matching that of the tortoise and crane." The writing and the minting are incomparably exquisite and the coin is generally thought to be a product of the Tang and Sung Dynasties.
Obverse:"Wind, Flowers, Snow and Moon".
There is another coin measuring about 4 cm in diameter and carries similar writings of comparable calligraphic excellence. On the reverse side, however, the picture depicts also a deity with a stork and heavenly clouds. Judging from the metal, it is possibly a product of the Tang and Sung Dynasties. As for coins with inscriptions of "Prolonged Good Fortune and Longevity", "A Thousand Autumns and Ten Thousand Years", "Longevity Marching That of The Tortoise and Stork" etc; there is a large quantity of them big and small. They were all minted prior to the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The standard of manufacture is by no means inferior to the official coins in general use. Regarding the "happy coins" used in weddings, they are known by many names and are made in different shapes and styles.
The most important and best known to the people are the so-called "fire-evading coins." The description on its face usually carries the words "Wind, Flowers, Snow and Moon" Some are inscribed the words "Royal Silhouette of Emperor Ming." The reverse side usually carries a picture of a couple of man and woman or of 8 persons. Still, some are round and carrying no words. Legends have it that as the families of both the bride and the bridegroom provided a large quantity of dowry what they least wanted is a fire. Fortunately for them, the Goddess of Fire is a shy young maiden. When she found the coin in the dowry, she would shyly withdraw instead of creating trouble. That is why the people described the coin as "fire-evading".
W:9.80gm. D:2.70mm.T:2.00mm.
As for the coin that carries the picture of the Ming Emperor, it is said that the picture is that of Xuan Zhong of Tang Dynasty. Court officials peeped at the frolicking love scenes of the Emperor with Yang Gui Fei. So people gave the coin that description. In fact, this is just an excuse and hardly convincing. This design is found on mirrors of the Qin Dynasty and stone carvings on tombs of the Han Dynasty. The story, therefore, dates back a long time. Probably it had its beginning in the pre-historic era and is a relic of the phallic-worship period, symbolising conjugal harmony and a blessing in the form of innumerable descendants. All this is good reasoning. To say they commemorate Emperor Tang Xuan-Zhong would be ludicrous and sound even more ludicrous to say they repel the God of Fire.
Obverse:"Wind, Flowers, Snow and Moon".
2. Lately, this coin appeared in a voluminous 509-paged publication entitled "Zhong Quo Hua Qian" from Shanghai, People's Republic of China (1992). Illustrations No. 413, 414 & 415 from that publication are reproduced herein as Exhibit B, Exhibit C & Exihibit D respectively.
3. Lastly, this similar exhibit was one of the items put up for sale at the Taisei-Baldwin-Gillio Coin Auction held on the 27th of February, 1997, at Raffles City Convention Centre, Singapore, with the reserve price of US $150-200.The said item was described as follows: "Charm Money in copper with central square hole possibly made in Ming Dynasty. Diameter 38mm. Obverse and reverse four styles of making love in Good Fine Condition".

I hope the contents of this article disproves the conflicting opinions of any Doubting Thomas es in our Society as to the coins' historical background.

I have been in possession of Exhibit A since 1953.

President, Malaysia Numismatic Society.
4th December, 1998
(This article was prepared by the late President of MNS, Mr. E.E.Sim)
Thank you to Kong Wei Yen and Miss Chloe Niew

The 164th Auction by the Society will be held on SUNDAY, 28th.June.2015 commencing at 9.30 a.m. Please note that this Auction will be held at: Muzium Negara, Jalan Petalawati,50480,Kuala Lumpur. For ,more details, please visit these links:


Post a Comment