Cookies Policy
X

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

On the Function of Cowries in Shang and Western Zhou China

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites

image of Journal of East Asian Archaeology

Cowrie shells are often found in Bronze Age sites in China. The commonly accepted explanation for their function is that they were used as money or currency during the Shang and the Zhou periods, if not as early as the Neolithic. References to cowrie shells in Shang and Zhou bronze inscriptions and in received classical texts are often regarded as evidence for such an interpretation. This paper reviews the hypothesis that cowries were money and examines textual evidence commonly cited in support of the hypothesis. It argues that a number of different concepts, such as wealth, value, and money, are often misleadingly conflated in the discussion of "cowrie money," and that some of the textual references to cowries have been misinterpreted. The paper suggests that, on present evidence, cowries began to assume the role of a standard of value only during the Middle Western Zhou period. The main function of cowries in the Shang and Western Zhou periods is more likely to have been ornamental, funerary, or ritual.

10.1163/156852303776172999
/content/journals/10.1163/156852303776172999
dcterms_title,pub_keyword,dcterms_description,pub_author
6
3
Loading
Loading

Full text loading...

/content/journals/10.1163/156852303776172999
Loading

Data & Media loading...

http://brill.metastore.ingenta.com/content/journals/10.1163/156852303776172999
Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/journals/10.1163/156852303776172999
2003-01-01
2016-08-25

Sign-in

Can't access your account?
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation