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Bonhams Sydney: A gold offering coin, Chunhua period, (990-994), Northern Song dynasty

incised to the top a character si (four)

Dimensions: Diameter – 1.9 cm, 3/4 in.

Sold at Bonhams Sydney on 22 December 2022, (lot 57) on behalf of the Hsiao family, Melbourne for A$34,440 (Estimate A$12,000-18,000).


Chunhua is the fourth reign title Emperor Taizong of Song used, dated from 990 to 994 during the Northern Song dynasty. The four characters, Chunhua yuan bao, are believed to be based on the Emperor’s own calligraphy. It has been suggested that the Emperor commissioned coins of this type as an offering when he visited Mount Wutai in Shandong Province for Buddhist ceremonies. Although the identities of the Buddhist deities on the reverse are not documented, the scene may represent “tongzi bai Guanyin“: Child of Wealth standing on the lotus base on the left offering prayers to Guanyin seated in dhyanasana on the right. 

Compare with three coins of the same commission, each incised with character one, two, and four, see Christie’s, New York, 24 to 25 Mar 2022, lot 762. Examples are also found in the Shanxi Museum, see Rare Treasure in Shanxi Museum, Shanxi, 2005, no.230.


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