A Drum Sycee from The Bund Customs

Weight: 373 grams/10 taels

Date: N/A

Inscriptions: 江灘關

Jiang Tan Guan (The Bund Customs)


According to official records, no inland or maritime customs in China were named Jiang Tan Guan (江灘關, The Bund Customs). The whereabout of this customs, as well as the origin of this drum piece, is therefore become a mystery.

In the 23rd year of Kangsi (1684 A.D.), the imperial government opened four customs to control trades:  in Kuangtung (as 粵海關, the Kuangtung Maritime Customs), Fujien (as 閩海關, the Fujien Maritime Customs), Chekiang (as 浙海關, the Chekiang Maritime Customs) and Shanghai (as 江海關, the Kianan Maritime Customs) ). The operation of this system basically followed the customs established during the Sung, Yuan and Ming Dynasties.

In the 23rd year of Tao Kuang (1843), as part of terms of the peace treaty ending the Opium War, the Chinese were forced to open the ports of 廣州 Canton (Guandong) in Kuangtung, 福州 Fuzhou and 廈門 Xiamen in Fujien, 寧波 Ningpo in Chekiang, and 上海 Shanghai in Jiangsu. Maritime customs, acting under the contemporary definition, were established in each of those treaty ports.

It is noteworthy that, before the opium war, there were no differences between an inland customs and a maritime customs; the duties performed and the taxes collected by a customs located near the eastern coast were basically the same as one in the rural west. The concept of maritime customs and the related customs tax system were both descended from the peace treaty of the opium war.

As demanded by the British counselor in Shanghai, the new customs in Shanghai was moved from Yuntai Moutain-where the old Shanghai customs was located,  to the west bank of the Whanpoo River which was close to the British settlement and the estury of the river. Although the Chinese name of the customs remained the same, 江海關, as the one continuously used since 1684. The new location of the customs is well-known to westerners as the Bund.      

It is highly possible that, after the customs was moved to the new building in the Bund, Shanghai residents gave the new customs an informal name "江灘關" (The Bund Customs), so that they could tell it from the previous one, even though this name might not have a wider or official recognition.    

Notwithstanding the webmaster's assumption, some people indicated that 江灘關- The Bund Customs was another name for 金陵關- Jin Ling Customs which is close to 南京-Nanjing in Jiangsu Province, although supportive evidences are yet seen.

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