Khotan lead coin

December 03, 1999

Obverse: Yu Fang - a contraction of the inscription:
[] - Yu [Tian] (Khotan)
[ ?] - Fang [Qian] (ruler's name)

Reverse: plain

Size: 26.2 mm
Weight: 5.5 g

Dr. T.D.Yih (30-Aug-99): Yu-fang lead cash from Khotan (Xinjiang)
I am not quite convinced your piece is genuine. It should be a lead coin with at the obverse along the rectangular hole a raised rim.
This coin is one of the two cast lead pieces from the British Museum reported to be found in the Khotan area. The obverse has on either side of the rectangular central hole from right to left the legend Yu Fang. The central hole has a raised rim. The reverse is blank. The reverse has a raised outer and inner rim. Weight 17.5 g.
The legend Yu Fang is considered to be a contraction of the name of Fangqian, a king of Khotan ruling from AD 129-130 and Yu Zhi (i.e. Khotan). Apparently this king also issued well-known sino-kharosthi horse-coins, since the character "fang" also occurs on some of them.
This king is reported to have rebelled in AD129 against the Chinese who just 2 years before had re-established Chinese influence and brought to end a period of Kushan political control. In 132 Khotan was attacked by Kashgar and brought again under Chinese control.
Except from the reports of the British explorers Hoernle and Stein, a similar lead piece with oblong central hole (diameter 23 mm) has also been obtained by the Swedish Eastern Turkestan explorer Sven Hedin.
More recently some more lead coins have been discovered in the Khotan area. They appear to exist in small and big specimens, diameter 25 and 16 mm, respectively; weight 6.5 and 1.3 g (Qian Boqan, 1998). Moreover, there was one specimen with a different legend.

  1. J. Cribb (1984) The Sino-Kharosthi coins of Khotan,
    Part 1 Numismatic Chronicle 144, 118-151,
    Part 2 Numismatic Chronicle 145, 136-149.
  2. F. Bergman (1935) Lou-lan wood carvings and small finds discovered by Sven Hedin, The bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities 7, 1935.
  3. Qian Boqan, A study on lead coins with rectangle holes excavated in the Hotan area, Zhongguo Qianbi, 1998 (4), 41-42. [Here are copies of this reference in Chinese - pages 41 and 42. If somebody can help to translate text from Chinese - such help will highly appreciated.]
  4. Stein, A. (1907) Ancient Khotan, Oxford, Clarendon Press.
Illustration from A.Stein:
A.Stein illustration
Illustration from Qian Boqan:

David Jen, ANS (31-Aug-99): It is from Khotan, Han Dynasty, and is made of lead. I had never seen a genuine example. The inscription is Kharosthi, and is something like "yu tien", the place name (= "Kho Tan").
I hope this helps. The coin is not in the Xinjiang Numismatics book, but it has been published in China Numismatics.

Andrew Turner, (13-Dec-99):
I recently purchased the pictured "coins" in a Guangzhou antique market. The owner said they may have come from the Xinjiang region.
All appear to be made from lead.
Others have an eagle, various horse/camel combinations and a goat. I would be interested to know what they are.
Click image to enlarge Weight: 14.7 g
Size: 37 mm

Weight: 9.37 g
Size: 25 mm

Click image to enlarge Weight: 18.8 g
Size: 32 mm

Click image to enlarge Weight: 13.1 g
Size: 27 mm

Click image to enlarge Weight: 9.4 g
Size: 30 mm

Click image to enlarge Weight: 7.7 g
Size: 27 mm


Similar pieces appeared not long ago at the eBay auction sales.

Any additional information highly appreciated.
Chinese Coinage Web Site