Household Certificate Silver of the Northern Sung Dynasty

No. Su/13


Weight: 935 grams/25 taels 


Inscriptions: 什邡縣戶帖銀重貳拾參兩肆錢


Xi Feng County (in Szechuan Province) Household Certificate Silver Weighed 23 Taels and 4 Candareens

In the 5th year of the Xi Ning reign (熙寧五年) of the Northern Sung Dynasty, i.e., 1072 A.D., the agricultural administration enacted a land reform named "Land Squaring and Tax Equalization Policy"(方田均稅法) .

As part of the reforms, officials in each county yearly measured all taxable lands under their jurisdictions on the 9th month and announced the result of the measurement to the public on the 3rd month of each following year. The regulations dictated that land measuring 1,000 steps square was named one "Fang"(方), namely, "Square". 

Each landowner was issued a land certificate from the local government certifying title to his property. In the reform, there were 4 types of  land certificates issued to local agents and landowners: "Square Account"(方帳), "Village Account"(莊帳), "Gia Certificate"(甲帖) ("Gia"-甲  was a basic administrative organization under each village), and "Household Certificate"(戶帖).

"Household Certificate"(戶帖) was a land certificate issued to a landowner who was a head of household. This allowed the Northern Sung government was able to impose land tax on the landowner, and the landowner was allowed to transfer the land either as part of a transaction or inheritance.   

This piece is a rare example relating to "Household Certificate" of the Northern Sung Dynasty, which is the only one known to exist. This piece also implies that the issuance of Household Certificates contributed incomes to the Northern Sung government, which was not mentioned in the written history.   

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