Helen Wang of the British Museum publishes the Chinese Money Matters blog. A recent post describes two interesting cabinets of coins at the Hermitage Museum in St.
LAI Yu-chih: ”Casting the Territory: A Study of Two Cabinets of Coins from the Qianlong Period in the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg”, Bulletin of the Institute of
Modern History, Academia Sinica, Vol. 101 (2018), pp.1-62.
Article in Chinese, with English abstract, available online (open access) at http://www.mh.sinica.edu.tw/bulletins.aspx
The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg houses two cabinets of coins from East Turkesktan presented when the Qing empire conquered the territory in 1759. The museum asserts
that these two cabinets were a diplomatic gift from Emperor Qianlong to Catherine the Great. The cabinets were both made of valuable Zitan wood and are covered with inscriptions
in Chinese, Manchu, Mongolian, and Uighur scripts. Both cabinets contain three tiers of coins, 32 and 51 in total respectively, dating from 2 BCE to 12 CE.
Scholarship on the coins themselves has neglected the circumstanced of their gifting. However, the archives of the Qing court allow us to reconstruct when, how, and even why
Emperor Qianlong ordered the coins to be collected and displayed. This article situates the analysis of these two cabinets of ancient Chinese coins in the context of both Chinese
and European numismatic traditions, and offers an interpretation of the political meanings of Qianlong’s gift. Its visual and material aspects show Qianlong’s understanding of
European practices and his use of non-verbal forms to promote his political agenda.
To read the complete article, see:
56. TWO CABINETS OF COINS FROM THE
QIANLONG PERIOD IN THE STATE HERMITAGE MUSEUM
Wayne Homren, Editor
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