It is well known that jiaozi
, world's earliest paper money,
originated in China some 800 years ago. But latest research
indicate that Jews assisted ancient Chinese in doing this.
Jiaozi, also named jiaochao, appeared in China in
1154 during the reign of the Jin regime (1115-1234).
was believed in the past that Jin regime hired coining workers of
Song (960-1279), Jin's preceding dynasty, to make the paper
But Qiu Shiyu, researcher of the Harbin Academy of Sciences and
expert of Jin history, concluded that Jews used to take part in the
work of designing jiaozi, based on his study of a copper
printing plate left behind from the Jin regime.
Made of coarse jute paper, jiaozi was too hard to be
preserved and not a piece of such paper has been discovered so far.
The copper printing plate used during the Zhenyou period (1213-
1217) of the Jin dynasty is kept in the Museum of the Chinese
History now, has become the only proof to tell the identity of
Qiu said that the brim area along the four sides of the plate
presents a typical pattern of fanye, which only belongs to
the Jewish nation. The pattern has more or less influenced the
design of many nations' paper notes.
Historical materials say that a group of Jewish people came to
China for trading in the middle of the 10th century. Most of them
reached what is known today as Kaifeng in Henan Province, the
capital of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) and the most
prosperous business metropolis at that time.
After the Nuzhen people set up the Jin kingdom in the middle of the
12th century, they took the Jews back to their capital city of
Shangjing, which today is the city of Acheng in northeast China's
Nuzhen people were deeply impressed by Jew's business talent.
The group of Jewish people not only printed jiaozi for
China, but also helped Jin to recoin the sycee that had been
prevailing in China for several thousand years into silver coins
named baohuo and made them the legal tender.
was more surprising that a special association appeared later on to
manage the currency circulation, adjust the rate of exchange
between sycee and copper coins or paper notes. This might be
considered the rudiment banking system, according to Qiu.
Jewish people had important roles in the governmental departments
in the businesses of taxation, financing and trading, according to
Qiu's study, which revealed that "they were possibly omnipotent
people," said Qiu.
Jews enjoyed great honor for their talent and hard work. During the
reign of Jin Shizong (1161-1189), the central government
established a synagogue for them, which was China's earliest church
of its kind.
Jewish people perfectly preserved their own custom though they used
to travel across the world. But the group of Jews that came to
China some 800 years ago seemed to be assimilated into Chinese
tradition, for none of their descendants has been found in China,
(People's Daily 12/15/2000)