A Gold Ingot from the Southern Sung Dynasty

Weight: 38 grams/ 1 tael

Date: N/A

Inscriptions: 鐵線巷/陳二郎.十分金/鐵線巷

Iron Thread Alley (in the Capital City-Ling An of the Southern Sung Dynasty)

Chen Er Lang (Smith)

Pure Gold


This is a piece of gold ingot in the weight of 1 tael cast by a smith in the capital Ling An during the Southern Sung Dynasty. According to researches, gold was circulated in the occasions similar to silver at that time.

The famous Japanese historian 加藤繁 (Kato Shigeru), in his masterpiece "唐宋時代金銀之研究"(Research on the Gold and Silver in The Tang and Sung Periods), concluded that, except that gold was much scarcer and valuable than silver, these two precious metals circulated without any difference during the Sung Dynasty in the usages or for the purposes summarized below:

In private economic activities:

Briberies, Gifts, Donations, Compliments, Prizes, Bets and Gambling, Indemnities, Pricing and Payments, Treasuries, Ransoms, Loans, Traveling Expenses, Rents, Dowries, and so on.

In public economic activities:

Tax Payments, Incomes from Monopoly Business, Submittal Silver to the Emperor, Presentation Silver, General Governmental Expenditures, Rewards, and so on.

Weights of almost all of the surviving 1 tael gold ingots are ranging from 36-42 grams; to be accurate, they are approximately 1 tael, rather than 1 tael sharp. Moreover, the average exchange rates between gold and silver were ranging from 12 to14 during the Southern Sung Dynasty, then, it becomes my speculation that the weight of each piece of gold might have been manipulated based on then exchange rate between gold and silver, for those goldsmiths were intending to cast a piece of gold in a value equivalent to a 12.5 tael silver sycee- An unit sycee during the Southern Sung Dynasty.      

This piece is assumed to be part from the recent Nanjing excavation.  

Return to Sycee Talks