Thursday, May 27, 2004

My Paper Money Collection

My dad was an avid collector of many things including coins and paper money. He stopped collecting for quite a while and generously gave me the opportunity and responsibility to build on his collection. Many of the paper money I have are not used anymore which makes them even more valuable. The collection has been growing pretty fast as I travel and as my friends from all around the world keep sending me.

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There is so much to learn from those tiny little pieces of paper. They give a glimpse into the country's history, its achievements, arts, politics, etc. I enjoy looking at the designs, the colors and fonts used... I research about the person printed in the currency, the watermarked historical sites and all the other details that say quite a lot.

I’ve recently received some Chinese paper money from a Finnish friend of mine. Besides the Chinese characters that appear in large font on one side of the 1 yuan, I noticed 4 small writings on the reverse of it, one of which is written in Arabic script.

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One Yuan: click one image to enlarge

After some research, I learned that it is written in Uyghur which is a Turkic language spoken in Xinjiang province (aka the Chinese Turkistan) Xinjiang Province is the largest province in China and the majority of its population are Muslims. The people in Xinjiang province are not Han Chinese, they are Turkic people mostly Uyghurs and Kazakhs... that’s why they have that beautiful Mogul complexion on their faces:

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Besides the Uyghur in Arabic script, the other 3 written languages that appear in the bottom of the banknote are: Mongol (Mongolian), Zang (Tibetan), and Zhuang. These languages represent the minority groups in the autonomous provinces of China.

Here is a typical? Uyghur sign in Xinjiang Province!

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Even though I knew there are millions of Muslims in China, I didn’t expect that they had a widely-used language based entirely on Arabic script. I remember a Chinese friend of mine saw some Arabic writing in a book I had and it was totally unfamiliar to her. I found that to be a bit strange, given that Arabic script is written on every single Chinese banknote.

Anyway, throughout my research about Uyghurs and Xinjiang province, I learned many interesting facts about Muslims in China. If you're interested, you may want to check out this website for a short summary.


At 6:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey..How u doing? I'm glad to see your's really a canadian uyghur I would like to take this opportunety to thank u for interesting in uyghur people.. all the best.

At 11:15 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Was looking for reference on the languages on the Chinese RMB. Thanks for the info!


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