“Thuan Thien dai bao” – the first currency of Ly Dynasty

At any time with barter, money is indispensable in the social life. So was Ly Dynasty. The first currency of Ly Dynasty was identified as “Thuan Thien dai bao”. This is widely confirmed; museums and galerries displaying the coins also confirm that these were the first currency of Ly Dynasty, commonly used from 1010 to 1028.


The first currency of Ly Dynasty

Thuan Thien dai bao had the diameter of from 24 to 25.5 mm. On the back of the coin had the word “Nguyệt” (moon). The surface was printed with four Chinese words “Thuan Thien dai bao” in italic type. The coin had ribbed rim and a wide hole. This is a rare type of currency, thus it is often displayed with only one coin. Some collectors have provided many different forms of this currency, leading to the speculation that “Thuan Thien dai bao” could be printed many times.

In the feudal history of the East, only two kings getting the reign name as Thuan Thien were Ly Thai To and Le Thai To. These two kings were Vietnamese kings. In monetary history, there were three types of currency bearing this name, i.e. “Thuan Thien dai bao”, “Small Thuan Thien nguyen bao” and “Big Thuan Thien nguyen bao”. “Big Thuan Thien nguyen bao” was casted in 759 by Su Tu Minh under Tang Dynasty with characteristics of the northern feudal money. Therefore, “Thuan Thien dai bao” and “Small Thuan Thien nguyen bao” were Vietnamese currency.  Thus, some people rank “Thuan Thien dai bao” and “Thuan Thien nguyen bao” as  Le Dynasty’s currency, ordered to cast by King Le Thai To.  However, this is not true.

Although old history does not mention the casting of currency under King Ly Thai To’s reign, it is reasonable to assume that during such a relatively peaceful period of the first king of the dynasty, it is difficult to accept that the reign did not have its own currency. Moreover, “Thuan Thien dai bao” is rare and only appears in the ruins of Ly – Tran Dynasties or mixes with other currencies of Ly – Tran Dynasties.  Meanwhile, in the ruins of Le Dynasty, we have never encountered this kind of currency but “Thuan Thien nguyen bao”.  In addition, there is a huge difference in the way of carving the three words “Thuận”, “Thiên” and “Bảo”. Therefore, many people have agreed to the classification: “Thuan Thien dai bao” was casted under King Ly Thai To’s reign, whereas “Thuan Thien nguyen bao” was casted under King Le Thai To’s reign.

Thus, although new to the throne in place of Tyrant Le Ngoa Trieu Le, opening up a country at peace under Ly Dynasty, Thai To Ly Cong Uan was very keen to the casting of curruncy, asserting the centralized power in the hands of the king and thereby confirming the independence of Dai Co Viet, the official name of our country under King Ly Thai To’s reign.


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