Brace yourselves, this year a ‘mystery money discovery is heading for London’.
Australian auction specialists have recently uncovered a rare Ming dynasty banknote—distinct with three official red seals—within the cavity of a Chinese sculpture set that was set to showcase at The Beaumont Hotel in Mayfair this November where the ancient artefacts will be made available to view, by appointment only.
Mossgreen specialist, Ray Tregaskis describes the discovery as a ‘thrilling moment’ for Australia’s archaeological community. The Ming dynasty, from which the banknote originates, was the ruling dynasty in China for approximately three hundred years during the C14th-C17th. The dynasty’s founding Emperor, Zhu Yuanzhang (Hongwu), was instrumental in reforming China’s civil service and implementing land reforms (having been born a peasant himself) for the country’s rural population.
Also noteworthy is that the Ming dynasty was the first Chinese dynasty to replace coins with paper money—a trend which was later adopted on a global scale. Typically, Ming banknotes were inscribed with the title ‘Great Ming Circulating Treasure Certificate’ and a warning that counterfeiters (who prevailed regardless) would be forcibly punished with decapitation.
However, the historic importance of the banknote extends beyond its own four corners. Tregaski reminds us how it has been used to verify the date of the statue in which it was found. The wooden head of the Luohan (a Chinese word referencing those who have completed the four stages of Enlightenment), now boasts a value in excess of £22,000.
To learn more about China’s rich history, check out our Ultimate China guide, where Globe Trekker favourites: Megan McCormick, Justine Shapiro and Zay Harding divulge the fascinating centuries of Imperial reign.