Silver coin


British Museum

British Museum

This coin has a Chinese inscription on one side and a Tibetan inscription on the other. The Chinese side reads 'Qian long tong bao', arranged around the square hole. 'Qianlong' refers to the reign of the Chinese emperor Qianlong (1736-95), and tongbao means 'circulating treasure' or 'coin'. It is interesting how a square hole is represented on this coin, although there was no intention of ever cutting it out.The Chinese presence in Tibet had implications on coin production. The earliest coins in Tibet (around the 1570s) had been made in Nepal, and by the 1720s the Nepalese government was striking silver coins specifically for use in Tibet. In 1791 the Tibetan government mint opened with the permission of the Chinese. However, the mint was closed two years later. Meanwhile, in 1792, the Chinese had opened a second mint in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, where they continued to produce coins until 1836.

Show lessRead more


  • Title: Silver coin
  • Date Created: 1793/1793
  • Physical Dimensions: Diameter: 26.00mm; Weight: 3.68g
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Registration number: 1860,1220.609
  • Production place: Minted in Lhasa
  • Period/culture: Qing dynasty; Qianlong
  • Material: silver
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Authority: Ruler Qianlong
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Hay, William