700-year-old banknote found in ancient Chinese sculpture

By Daniel Uria   |   Oct. 20, 2016 at 11:48 AM

ARMADALE, Australia, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- A 700-year-old banknote was found inside an ancient wooden Chinese sculpture at an Australian auction house.

Mossgreen auction house shared photos of the upcoming "The Raphy Star Collection of Important Asian Art" which features several ancient sculptures, including the one that held the rare banknote.

"Also part of the collection is a 13-14th century wooden sculpture of a Luohan inside of which our specialists were thrilled to discover a rare, Ming Dynasty banknote when they catalogued the piece," the auction house said. "The sculpture and banknote will be on view alongside the many other highlights of this fine collection."

The auction house staff discovered the initially unassuming, crumpled piece of parchment before realizing it was actually among the earliest printed currency in China, according to CNN.

"This is the first time, that we know of, that a banknote has been discovered inside a wooden Buddhist sculpture," Ray Tregaskis, head of Asian art at Mossgreen, said. "We were surprised, astonished, and once we had translated [the text], very excited!"

Mossgreen Asian art specialist Luke Guan said Chinese sculptures have been known to hold various items inside.

"It's typical to find materials such as mantra rolls, relics, grains, incense and semi-precious stones that have been placed inside gilt bronze sculptures by a monk or lama," he said. "But we've never heard of anyone finding money inside a wooden sculpture before."

Mossgreen's specialists believe the bill may have been placed inside the sculpture 40 or 50 years after it was first made.

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