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36. Korean and Japanese coins.

Japanese and Korean culture developed under the strong influence of Japan. The form and functions of Korean and Japanese coins were also borrowed from China (see exhibits № 38).

37. A Chinese Taoist sword made of old coins and used for expulsion of evil demons.

Taoist magicians and fortune-tellers were famous in China as highly reliable specialists capable of rescuing people from the unfavorable influence of natural and supernatural forces. A sword made of coins, fixed together through holes drilled in them, was one of the most powerful magical «instruments». The coins were included in the system of Chinese magical symbols and had profound links with general cultural contexts. Their form, names and legends were governed by numerological classification schemes. All this determined the role of coins as amulets and talismans and led to their use for magical and protective purposes. A sword made of such coins promised to protect its owner from evil forces and to ensure him peaceful existence not only in the material, but also in the spiritual world.

38. Chinese coins and the Order of the Double Dragon (of the blue degree). 19th century.

Coins in China were not used in the ordinary sense as circulating currency. Their appearance, selection of material as well as relations between different means of monetary circulation were governed mostly by ideological considerations. Copper was the main coin-making material throughout most of the history of China. It was regarded with respect as the only material whose value was constant and did not depend on market fluctuations as in the case of precious stones.

The shape of the coins was already established in the third century BC: they were usually round with holes in the center, which were of round or square shapes. The legend on the front side consisted of four signs: the first two, as a rule, contained the motto of the ruling family, and the other two came from one of the coin’s names, for example «a walking treasure», «a heavy treasure», etc. Coins were beaded on a string and a bunch of coins was used as a monetary unit. Bunches could be bigger or smaller containing from 500 to 1000 pieces. Since the weight of one coin was 3.5 grams, one bunch would normally weigh from 1.5 to 3 kilos.

The coins were also used as sacred objects — amulets, talismans and bearers of the forces of good. The image of the dragon displayed on the order is also deeply symbolic: the dragon played a great role in Chinese life. Dragons were worshipped as deities of rivers and lakes, and as patrons of regions and homes. They also personified the emperor’s power.

39. Bronze portrait of Peter the Great, possibly 18th century. Work by C. Rastrelli.

This portrait of Peter I is made in the baroque style, which can be traced in all the details: the rich costume and regalia, the tense posture of the torso and the head. The tsar’s majestic head is crowned with the laurel wreath of a victor. In this portrait Peter is represented as a typical victorious warrior: he is despotic, proud, fearless and severe. The talented sculptor rendered well the intellectual power and the iron will of the first Russian emperor.