Wu Zhu cash, Emperor Wen Di (581-604 AD), Sui dynasty, China (H#10.26)

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Two Chinese characters Wu Zhu (=5 Zhu), outer rim, inner rim by "Wu" only / Blank, complete outer and inner rims. 23mm, 1.70 grams. Cast ca.584-604 AD. Schjoth #-; Hartill 10.26; Gratzer/Fishman "One Thousand Years of Wu Zhu Coinage" #9.5. 

In 583, Emperor Wen ordered the examination of the existing coinage in the empire by ordering samples of one hundred coins from all corners of the empire and ordered the casting of new Wu Zhus. The following year, in 584, he banned the circulation of all old coins, only the newly cast Wu Zhus were to circulate. These new second issue Sui Wu Zhus are identical to the first issue coins, but are smaller and lighter (~22-23 mm, 2-3 grams). They were cast for much longer than the heavy first issue coins, and are more common.

The Sui Dynasty (581-618 AD) was followed by the Tang Dynasty and preceded by the Southern and Northern Dynasties in China. It ended nearly four centuries of division between rival regimes. The Sui Dynasty, founded by Sui Wendi, or Yang Jian, held its capital at Luoyang. It was marked by the reunification of Southern and Northern China. This dynasty has often been compared to the earlier Qin Dynasty in tenure and the ruthlessness of its accomplishments. The Sui dynasty's early demise was attributed to the government's tyrannical demands on the people, who bore the crushing burden of taxes and compulsory labor. Weakened by costly and disastrous military campaigns against Goguryeo which ended with the defeat of Sui in the early seventh century, the dynasty disintegrated through a combination of popular revolts, disloyalty, and assassination.



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