uest for a Manchurian Drum
Weight: 368 grams/10taels
I acquired this piece 5 years ago, and it is still the only specimen from the Manchurian provinces (Fengtien, Jilin and HelungJiang) that I have seen in the shape of a 10 tael drum, which was mainly circulated in Szechuan.
Because no other piece of this type has been found, I have been suspicious of its identity, thinking that it might not have been cast in Manchuria. I suspected it might be a Szechuan drum which was overstamped with the name of "Fengtien Prefecture" before or during its circulation in Fengtien, or it may have been a consignment from the government of Fengtien prefecture to a Szechuan silversmith, just like another mysterious Square Trough in Kuangtung Pattern but with an obsolete place name of Jiangsu in my collection. This suspicion was suddenly eliminated when I found a piece of information in Joe Cribb's "A Catalogue of Sycee in the British Museum".
On page 45 of the book, under the caption of "Provincial table of ingot names, as recorded by Miyashita", the categories of the ingots circulated in Manchuria includes a type called "Yuanding" in a weight of around 10 taels. "Yuan-Ding" means "Round Ingot" in Chinese, and in the past this term generically applied to all sycee in a round, oval or drum shape. Accordingly, the Manchurain provinces did circulate drum shaped sycee.
Now, my question about this piece has turned to "why have all other Manchurian drums disappeared?"
Return to Sycee Talks