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Tibetan Coinage II

The Kong-par Tangka Coins



Tibet is located on the Tibetan plateau of Central Asia. It is known as 'the Land of Snows' or 'the Rooftop of the World'. To the West, Tibet has represented a forbidden land of strangers and or an exotic region of mystery. I agree that Tibet is mysterious in a way few other places are.

Coins used in Tibet were imported from Nepal during the middle of sixteenth century. Many debased silver coins were struck in Nepal and sent to Tibet. Later, the minting of adulterated coins which had been the cause of the war between Tibet and Nepal in 1791. The Eighth Dalai Lama requested the Qing Government for military help, and Nepal troop (Gurkha) was defeated by the Qing army.
According to a Chinese reference '
藏學研究論叢第六輯 - Zang Xue Yan Jiu Lun Cong', (page 87, ISBN7 223 00747 8/2. 46) the Qing Government had paid 10,520,000 taels in weight of silver for the Qing troop during the war. The amount of silver was equal to one quart of the total annual income of the Qing Government at that time.

After the war, the Qing Government promulgated the new regulations '
欽定藏內善後章程二十九條 - The Authorized Regulations for the Better Governing of Tibet' in 1793. This new royal decree of 29 article was published in order to strengthen the Qing Government's control over Tibet.

It is believed that Tibet had begun its own coinage probably in about 1760s. The first coin was minted by the order of Regent of the Tibet government Dican Hutuktu. As I know that the first Tibetan coin bears only the motifs of Buddhisim to assert its local origins, there is no any inscriptions on the both sides of the coin.

Some Western scholars believed that the first Tibetan mint opened in 1791, but operations were suspended two years later. In 1792, Qing government established a second mint in Lhasa to issue silver coins for the local market until 1836. But I have collected some speciments of Tibetan Tangka which denoted minting in 1791. Might be the dies had already prepared in 1791, but they were used two years later. Really, I am confused with the dating of the early Tibetan Tangkas. This can only prove that there were at least two mints existed in Tibet during the 1790's. The Tibetan silver coins normally were known as Tangkas, they were minted in Tibet during the period of 1791 to 1946. They exhibit a wide array of varieties and yet the features of Tibetan tangkas remained nearly invariable for over a century.

Two major types of Tangkas have been catalogued. The early minted Tangka coin features of a lotus in an inner circle, surrounded, in eight compartments, by the eight lucky symbols on one side, and on the other side, it features of an inner square with the date, surrounded by scrolled ornaments. I cannot determine the minting place of Kong-par Tangkas which denoted minting during the 1790's. Mr. Oliver D. Cresswell believed that they were probably minted in Giamda.
For the later minted Tangkas, it features on the reverse with a wheel symbol surrounded, in eight compartments, by the legend [
Dgar Ldan Pho Rdang Co Las Nam Rgal] with means 'The gaden palace victorious on all sides'.

Normally Tangkas don't bear a denomination, and only the first six coins listed bear a date. They were minted between 1791 to 1891. They are known as "Kong-par Tangka" coins. For those bear without date are known as "Gaden Tangka" which will be talking about in a near future.





Symbol of Eight Good Omens

The order of the eight lucky symbols used in Kang-par Tangka coins:

  1. The magic umbrella [rin chen gdugs]
  2. Gold fish [gser nya]
  3. Holy lotus [pad ma]
  4. Diamond knot [dpal bevu]
  5. Gold wheel [vkhor lo]
  6. Satin cylinder [chos kyi rgyal mthsan]
  7. White snail of right spiral shell [dung dkar gyas vkhyil]
  8. Magic bottle [gter cher bum pa]



Marks of Rareness of the Collected Currencies
Extremely Rare A ~ Very Rare B ~ Rare C ~ Not So Many D ~ Common E

The Kong-par Tangka Coins

Description

Coin No.:0362
Diameter : 27 mm.
Weight : 5.2g
Rareness : B
Dates : Cycle 13 Year 45 [AD1791]
Fineness :95%
Obverse : Inscribed with Tibetan 1345 in the centre. Crescent and 3 stars or dots above date arch.
Reverse : A lotus in double circles, surrounded by the eight lucky symbols. Please be noted the two fish have formed a 'S' shape.
Coin No.:0363
Diameter : 27 mm.
Weight : 5.5g
Rareness : B
Dates : Cycle 13 Year 46 [AD1792]
Fineness :80%
Obverse : Inscribed with Tibetan 1346 in the centre. Crescent and 3 stars or dots above date arch.
This coin is also known as the first edition of 13-46 Tangka by the Chinese collectors
Reverse : a lotus in double circles, surrounded by the eight lucky symbols
Coin No.:0364
Diameter : 27 mm.
Weight : 5.4g
Rareness : C
Dates : Cycle 13 Year 46 [AD1792]
Fineness :80%
Obverse : Inscribed with Tibetan 1346 in the centre. Crescent and 3 stars or dots above date arch.
This coin is also known as the second edition of 13-46 Tangka by the Chinese collectors.
Reverse : a lotus in a single circle, surrounded by the eight lucky symbols
Coin No.:0365
Diameter : 27 mm.
Weight : 5.0g
Rareness : B
Dates : Cycle 13 Year 47 [AD1793]
Fineness :90%
Obverse : Inscribed with Tibetan 1347 in the centre. Crescent and 3 stars or dots above date arch. This silver tangkas is one of the extremely rare Kong-par coins
Reverse : a lotus in a single circle, surrounded by the eight lucky symbols
Coin No.:0366
Diameter : 26.5 mm.
Weight : 5.5g
Rareness : B
Dates : Cycle 13 Year 46 [AD1792]
Fineness :Unknown
Obverse : Inscribed with Tibetan 1346 in the centre. Crescent and 3 stars or dots above date arch but below a sun and a moon.
Reverse : The design of lotus pattern is the same as the 2nd edition of 13-46 Tangka. Please be noted that the design of the magic umbrella has been changed. This is the 3rd edition of 13-46 Tangka.
Note :Some of the scholars believed that this type was struck in the 1820's. But the Chinese articles believe it was first minted in 1840 and only very few were struck as the Ga-den Tangka started to mint at the same period.
Coin No.:0367
Diameter : 27 mm.
Weight : 5.1g
Rareness : C
Dates : Cycle 13 Year 46 [AD1792]
Fineness :Unknown
Obverse : Inscribed with Tibetan 1346 in the centre. Crescent and 1 star or dot above date arch but below a sun and a moon. This is also the third edition of 13-46 Tangka coins.
Reverse : a new lotus pattern in a single circle, surrounded by the eight lucky symbols. The umbrella pattern is different from the above coin too. The fish pattern showing the two fish have formed a 'S' shape.
Coin No.:0368
Diameter : 27 mm.
Weight : 5.7g
Rareness : D
Dates : Cycle 13 Year 46 [AD1792]
Fineness :Unknown
Obverse : Inscribed with Tibetan 1346 in the centre. Crescent and 3 stars or dots above date arch and 1 star or dot at the center of the date arch.
Reverse : a new designed lotus pattern in a single circle, surrounded by the eight lucky symbols. The satin cylinder appeard of five dots.
Note : Some of the scholars believed that this type was struck in the 1860's and numerous minor varieties exist. I think this coin should be the fifth edition of 13-46 tangas.
Coin No.:380
Diameter : 28 mm.
Weight : 5.3g
Rareness : D
Dates : Cycle 13 Year 46 [AD1792]
Fineness :Unknown
Obverse : Inscribed with Tibetan 1346 in the centre. Crescent and 3 stars or dots above date arch. There is no star or dot at the center of the date arch
Reverse : a new designed lotus pattern in a single circle, surrounded by the eight lucky symbols. The satin cylinder appeared of six dots.
Note : Some of the scholars believed that this type was struck in the 1860's and numerous minor varieties exist. I think this coin should be the fifth edition of 13-46 tangas.
Coin No.:0369
Diameter : 26.5 mm.
Weight : 4.8g
Rareness : D
Dates : Cycle 15 Year 24 [AD1890]
Fineness :80%
Mint :Glamda Mint
Obverse : Inscribed with Tibetan 1524 in the centre. Crescent and 3 stars or dots above date arch.
Reverse : The lotus pattern is completely different from those minted a century ago, but it still locates inside a single circle, surrounded by the eight lucky symbols. Please notice the E symbol had changed significantly to nine dots instead of a lotus.
Coin No.:0379
Diameter : 26 mm.
Weight : 4.7g
Rareness : C
Dates : Cycle 15 Year 24 [AD1890]
Fineness :80%
Mint :Unknown
Obverse : Inscribed with Tibetan 1524 in the centre. Crescent and 3 stars or dots above date arch.
Reverse : The lotus pattern is completely different from the above coin. This coin is rather crude design and the strokes are quite bold
Coin No.:0370
Diameter : 26.5 mm.
Weight : 4.7g
Rareness : C
Dates : Cycle 15 Year 25 [AD1891]
Fineness :80%
Mint :Glamda Mint
Obverse : Inscribed with Tibetan 1525 in the centre. Crescent and 3 stars or dots above date arch.
Reverse : A new lotus pattern in a single circle, surrounded by the eight lucky symbols. A 'S' shape is formed in the fish pattern.




More about Tibetan Coinage
Tibetan Coinage IV - The Miscellaneous Tangkas


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Szechuan Rupee : the Imitation of Indian Rupee


More about K'ang Ting Rupee
The Red Face Rupee


More about Tibetan Coinage
The Nepalese and Tibetan Coinage in Qing Dynasty


An unknown Tibetan Item

Some of My Spare Tibetan Coins

A New Tibetan Coinage Book - A Catalog of Tibetan coin of China



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    Bibliography

  1. Hsiao Huai Yuan : The History of Tibetan Money
  2. Tibet Branch of the People's Bank of China: China Numismatics 1990.1 No.28
  3. N G Rhodes : The Gaden Tangka of Tibet, Oriental Numismatic Society 1983
  4. Oliver D Cresswell : Tibetan Coins by Numismatics International Publication 1977
  5. Dong Wenchao : An Overview of China's Gold & Silver Coins of Past Ages - the Gold and Silver coins and Medals of Modern China, ISBN: 962-531-0001-0
  6. A History of Chinese Currency (16th Century BC - 20th Century AD), 1983 Jointly Published by Xinhua (New China) Publishing House N.C.N. Limited M.A.O. Management Group Ltd. ISBN 962 7094 01 3
  7. Pang Hsin Wei : The Currency History of China, 1988. ISBN7-208-00196-0/K.47
  8. Chester L. Krause and Clifford Mishler Colin R. Bruce II. : Standard catalog of World Coins 1991, 18th edition.
  9. N G Rhodes, K. Gabrisch & C Valdettaro : The Coinage of Nepal
  10. 布爾努瓦:西藏的黃金和銀幣(法)中國藏學出版社 1999
  11. 張惠信:中國貨幣傳奇 可筑書房 1991
  12. 張惠信:中國貨幣圖錄 台揚出版社 1992
  13. 張惠信:中國貨幣史話 台揚出版社 1994
  14. 姜宏業:中國地方銀行史, 湖南出版社 1991
  15. 趙萍 續文輝:簡明西藏史 民族出版社 2000
  16. 曾國慶:清代藏史研究 西藏人民出版社 1999
  17. Zang Xuan Yan Jiu Lun Cong, No.5,6,7,8 1993-1996 藏學研究論叢 西藏人民出版社

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