Xinjiang, Qiuzi Kingdom
Bilingual Cash Coins

Vladimir Belyav,
February 11, 2002

Weight 1.89 g, diameter 21.1 mm

Weight 2.13 g, diameter 19.6 mm

Weight 1.33 g, diameter 19.5 mm

Weight 1.13 g, diameter 17.0 mm

Obverse: Chinese Wu Zhu             5 Zhu

Reverse: two unknown characters.

Metal: copper
Catalogs: Jen911, XN66

      Shown coins are attributed to the Qiuci (also Guizi, Qiuzi, Kuche) Kingdom located on the Xinjiang territory. The Qiuzi Kingdom had established relations with the Western Han dynasty during the Emperor Wudi's reign (141-87 B.C.).

      Coins of four main types are known (in time order):
  • Jen910
    obverse: Wuzhu from right to left; two unknown characters from top to bottom
    reverse: plain
  • Jen911
    obverse: Wuzhu from right to left
    reverse: two unknown characters from top to bottom
  • Jen912
    obverse: two unknown characters from top to bottom
    reverse: plain
  • Jen913
    tiny unepigraphic coins
      There are no final version of the reverse characters reading. Jen, p.181: "Some Chinese numismatists claim the symbol under the center hole stands for 50 in the Kharosthi language and for 1/10 of the Zhu; the two symbols together denote the amount of 5 Zhu, which in the Han language reads Wu Zhu".

      Another opinion is that unknown characters are written in the Tocharian language. Francois Thierry wrote to me in e-mail on 8-Sep-2000:
      Qiuzi is the old Chinese transcription for the Tokharian name of Kucha. Qiuzi was the old kingdom of Kucha, a very important state on the middle way of Silk Road from the Han time to the Tang period.
      The coins have two inscriptions, wuzhu on the reverse and one other on the obverse (some coins have only the local inscription, without wuzhu, and with a blank reverse; for this reason I thinks that the local inscription is the obverse). This local inscription is not yet decifered: the Chinese scholars would that the meaning should be read wu zhu (five zhu) in Tokharian, but it is absolutly wrong as said me some specialists of Tokharian language and script (Wolfgang Krause & Thomas Werner, Tocharisches Elementarbuch, Heidelberg 1960-1964, or Lore Sander, Palaeographisches zu den Sanskrithandschriften der Berliner Turfansammlung, Wiesbaden 1968). The Chinese position is more political that scientific: the goal of this position is to given the demonstration that Kucha used the Chinese metrology from many centuries ago...
      From two years ago I am triying to solve this problem with the help of specialists of Central Asian languages and scripts (Bactrian, Tokharian A and B, Pehlevi, or local form of Kharosthi) but till now these scholars doesn't find an acceptable solution. We have some of these coins both in Cabinet des Medailles and in Musee Guimet in Paris, with more than six different types in size, script, rims and inscription.

      Xinjiang Numismatics simply states that inscriptions are in Han and Qiuzi languages:
      Qiuzi, one of the numerous states of the ancient Western Region, covered roughly the present day Kucha County of Xinjiang. The place was under the jurisdiction ot the Xiyu Duhufu of the Han Dynasty. Its people all believed in Buddhism and enjoyed a life of plenty. They were able foundrymen as well.
      In the Wei and Jin dynasties and in the Epoch of Division between South and North, Qiuzi turned out “wuzhu” cash, Qiuzi “wuzhu” cash (Han-Qiuzi bilingual cash) and Qiuzi small cash. The varieties of the Qiuzi coinage evidence the prosperity of the ancient domain in economy and trade. The Qiuzi people wrote a unified form of their language, and were famed for their wonderful music and dances. The territory, having Luntai (Bugur) as its borderland in the east and Bachu as its frontier in the west, reached the foot of the Tianshan Mountain Range in the north and the Tarim Basin in the south. The place was one of the four “zhen” (Garrison Districts) under the Anxi Duhufu, the seat of which was in Qiuzi for a whole century. In the later years of the Tang Dynasty, the land was taken up by Huihus (Uygurs now), who were to be known as Qiuzi Huihus in history. It was called Quxian in the Yuan Dynasty and has been known as Kucha since the Qing Dynasty.
      Qiuzi “wuzhu” cash were made of copper and of brass as well, modelled in type on “wuzhu” cash and inscribed bilingually in Han and Qiuzi. About 10,000 or more Qiuzi “wuzhu” cash have been unearthed in Xinjiang.


  1. XN: Dong Qingxuan, Jiang Qixiang Xinjiang Numismatics, Hong Kong, 1991, p.17.
  2. Jen: Jen, David Chinese Cash: Identification and Price Guide, 340 p, 2000.
  3. Shanghai Encyclopedia ("Daxi", Zhong Guo Li Dai Hou Xi), Shanghai Numismatic Society, Volume 3: Sui, T'ang, 5-Kingdoms/10-States Period, 619p, 1991.

Any additional information highly appreciated.
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