Huge Ban Liang cash, 186-182 BC, Empress Lu Zhi, Western Han, China

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Two Chinese characters - Ban Liang ("Half an ounce"), no rims or other marks / Blank, no rims. 32mm, 7.08 grams. Hartill #-; Gratzer/Fishman "The Early Round Coins of China" #A13.10. SKU T1748-48726

Nice and scarce large coin.

The officially allowed privately cast elm-seed Ban Liangs (types A13.1-A13.9) were extremely light and variable in weight and appearance, and were probably causing economic problems. The earlier Qin Ban Liangs, some of which were probably still circulating, were also variable in weight and appearance. To alleviate the monetary confusion, Empress Lü forbade private casting of coins in 186 BC, and ordered the government to cast the new heavy coins. The new Ban Liangs were cast to the heavy 8-zhu standard (theoretical standard of 6.7 grams). 

Empress Lü , born Lü Zhi (241-180 BC), was a brutal and fascinating figure of the early Han period. She was the empress-consort of Emperor Gaozu, the founder and first ruler of the Han Dynasty, becoming the first woman named Empress of China (as Empress Gao of Han). After the death of Emperor Gaozu in 195 BC, she was honoured with the title of an Empress Dowager and later as Grand Empress Dowager during the short reigns of her son Emperor Hui (195-188 BC) and her grandsons Liu Gong (Emperor Qianshao (188-184 BC)) and Liu Hong (Emperor Houshao (184-180 BC)). A strong, cruel and domineering figure, Lü Zhi stood by her husband side, assisting and advising him during the civil war. Following his death, she was given the title of an Empress Dowager by her son, Emperor Hui. As Empress Dowager, she dominated her Imperial son and grandsons, and was the main figure of the Chinese political scene for fifteen years following the death of her husband in 195 BC. She died at the age of 61 in 180 BC and was interred in her husband's massive tomb in Changling in Shaanxi.


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