Kuangtung Square Trough Inscribed with Title of Deputy Commissioner on Salt Administration
Salt tax was one of the major sources of income for the Chinese government. During the Ching Dynasty, in order to secure this important source of financing, a number of salt administration officials were deployed to the salt production provinces--such as Shandong, Jiangsu, Chekiang, Anhuei, Kuangtung, and Kuangsi--to oversee and govern the production, transportation, and warehousing of salt and to issue sales licenses and collect the related tax levies. These officials were all under the supervision of the board of revenue of the imperial government.
The salt administration in each producing province was assigned to officials of different ranks. From high to low, they were:
(1) 鹽運司 (Yen Yun Shi): Salt Transportation Commissioner
(2) 運同 (Yun Tong): Deputy Commissioner
(3) 運副 (Yun Fu): Associate Commissioner
(4) 運判 (Yun Pan): Commissioning Judge
(1) was the chief of the administration of a salt production province.
(2)-(4) were each assistants and representatives of the Salt Transportation Commissioner and governed the business of a salt production region in a province.
The specimen shown above is inscribed with a place name of 潮 "Chao" which is an abbreviation of the Chao District of Kuangtung Province. "Chao", in conjunction with the stamp of title (2), indicates that it was a salt tax silver collected by the Deputy Commissioner for Salt Administration of the Chao District from his jurisdiction, and was prepared for submission to the Salt Transportation Commissioner in Canton.
There is rarely a sycee of the Ching Dynasty inscribed with the title of an official; this one may be one of few exceptions.
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