China unearths 18th century Tibetan coins at Everest monastery

Old Tibetan currency.
Old Tibetan currency.

(, May10, 2016) – Did China just announce that it had unearthed evidence that Tibet was an independent country with its own currency system some 200 years ago? Its official Xinhua news agency reported May 9 that more than 5,500 coins believed to be more than 200 years old had been unearthed during renovation work in a monastery near the base of Mount Qomolangma (Everest) in Tibet.

The report said the round coins, weighing 26.6 kg in total and bearing floral patterns, were found by workers digging a hole in Rongpo Monastery of Dingri County on Apr 27.

The report cited Wang Kun, head of Dingri County, as saying the wording on the coins suggested that they were from the 18th century during the rule of the Ganden Phodrang regime. The 18th century was a period when rival Mongol chiefs fought for influence in Tibet during the reigns of the sixth to the eighth Dalai Lamas, with China under the Manchu rule being a marginal player.

The Ganden Phodrang government of Tibet began with the installation by the Mongol chief Gushi Khan of the Fifth Dalai Lama Lobsang Gyatso as the supreme temporal and spiritual leader of a unified Tibet in 1642 AD. Since then Tibet has been ruled by a secession of Dalai Lamas until the Chinese invasion and occupation rule of today.

Citing an expert on coin studies with the People’s Bank of China, the report said documented mintage in Tibet started in 1792, and claimed, in a piece of a doctored history of a hitherto unknown “one country, two currencies” system, that a Chinese central government’s minister to Tibet oversaw the creation of the first batch of standard coins.


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