Qing Dynasty Good Luck Coins Found in Canada

21 May 2016  Sat

Archaeologists made a startling discovery of a 340-year-old coin, struck by the Qing Dynasty Emperor Kangxi, featuring traditional Chinese characters in Canada’s Yukon area. This unique find suggests that trade was prevalent in this area even before the times when people across the globe came down to Dawson City and Klondike, looking for gold. The team believes that the coin, made of 60% copper and 40% zinc was minted between 1667 and 1671.

A total of three circular coins with square hole in the centre were discovered, out of which one dates from 1724 and 1735 and the other one, between 1403 and 1424. The latter coin has four additional small holes. The additional holes on these coins were used to tie them up on a house ridgepole, door or gate for protection. Some coins were also knit on clothing for protection from evil spirits or ghosts.

Kangxi coins were considered to be very lucky because kang translates to wealth and xi to prosperity. Apart from that, this popular emperor ruled for 60 long years, making the coin even more auspicious. Coins were cast by 20 different mints during Kahnxi’s times. The Chinese followed a tradition of collection coins form all these mints, tie them up in a string in a particular order to form a poem and use them as amulets. A Ming Dynasty coin, minted by Cheng Zu between 1403 and 1424 featured the inscription yong le tong bao, meaning "happiness forever." Experts believe that gold diggers got them to Yukon as a lucky charm, but the find clearly indicates that trade began much before the gold rush.

In the mid-1700s, glass beads, silk, coinage and other goods from China were traded by Russians with the Tlingit. They exchanged it for furs, such as sea otter, seal, beaver, fox and marten. Exotic goods were traded by the Tlingit with the Athapaskan First Nations people. They had monopoly over trade at the Chilkoot Pass in the Coast Mountains which was a prime attraction during the gold rush.

Experts also state that the Chinese coins could have been used as armour by sewing them on leather. One of the artefacts that was found at the site is a single chest armour piece with over 200 coins.

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