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Coin, Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE)

Coin (Qi Dao), 206 BCE–220. China. Bronze. Asian Art Museum, The Avery Brundage Collection, B71B2. Photograph © Asian Art Museum.

Coin (Qi Dao), 206 BCE–220. China. Bronze. Asian Art Museum, The Avery Brundage Collection, B71B2. Photograph © Asian Art Museum.

Both a literal and symbolic indicator of wealth, the top of this knife-shaped coin is a representation of the heavens and the earth. According to ancient Chinese beliefs, the square opening or "eye" is a depiction of the earth and is enclosed within the circular perimeter of the coin, which represents the heavens.