A Sycee Evidencing a Piece of History
Sc10/5 Szechuan Donation in 10 Tael Drum
Weight: 344 grams
The 1st year of Tong Ze (1862)
Fu Soon (County) Donation
When historians can not otherwise find proof of certain historic events, sometimes sycee can play an important role. This Szechuan Drum is a case in point.
Donation was one of the major sources of income for the imperial and local governments in the latter part of the Ching Dynasty, especially for Szechuan Province. In fact, the so called "Donation" was not at all a voluntary contribution, at least not since the Tong Ze reign (1862-1874). It became a kind of tax assessed in addition to the primary tax--grain tax or land and poll tax. In Szechuan, for example, taxpayers who would typically pay a grain tax of one tael of silver would need to pay another 1-3 taels of silver as donation, meaning that the "Donation" was even more than the primary tax government collected!
When did Donation become a compulsory tax in Szechuan? There are different sources* indicating different answers, from the 1st year, 2nd year, to the 3rd year of Tong Ze (1862, 1863, 1864). This specimen gives the correct answer.
"Szechuan Historical Financial Materials of Ching Dynasty" edited by Szechuan Social Science Academy, 1984, Chengdu, Szechuan, China.
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