Rare 5 elements cash of Emperor Wu Di (561-578 AD), Northern Zhou, China

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Four Chinese characters Wu Xing Da Bu ("The large coin of 5 elements"), no inside rim, outside rim / Blank, inside and outside rim. Issued after 540 AD. 26.5mm, 2.54 grams. Hartill 13.30; Schjoth 246. SKU Q131-37981

The Northern Zhou Dynasty followed the Western Wei, and ruled northern China from 557 to 581. Northern Zhou's basis of power was established by Yuwen Tai, who was paramount general of Western Wei, following the split of Northern Wei into Western Wei and Eastern Wei in 535. After Yuwen Tai's death in 556, Yuwen Tai's nephew Yuwen Hu forced Emperor Gong of Western Wei to yield the throne to Yuwen Tai's son Yuwen Jue (Emperor Xiaomin), establishing Northern Zhou. The reigns of the first three emperors (Yuwen Tai's sons) - Emperor Xiaomin, Emperor Ming, and Emperor Wu were dominated by Yuwen Hu, until Emperor Wu ambushed and killed Yuwen Hu in 572 and assumed power personally. With Emperor Wu as a capable ruler, Northern Zhou destroyed rival Northern Qi in 577, taking over Northern Qi's territory. However, Emperor Wu's death in 578 doomed the state, as his son Emperor Xuan was an arbitrary and violent ruler whose unorthodox behavior greatly weakened the state. After Emperor Xuan's death in 580 (when he was already titularly retired emperor (Taishang Huang)), Emperor Xuan's father-in-law Yang Jian seized power, and in 581 seized the throne from Emperor Xuan's son Emperor Jing, establishing Sui. The imperial Yuwen clan, including the young Emperor Jing, was subsequently slaughtered by Yang Jian.

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