Horse coins (Traditional Chinese: 馬錢; Simplified Chinese: 马钱; Pinyin: mǎ qián), alternatively dama qian (打馬錢), are a type of Chinese numismatic charm that originated in the Song dynasty (or as early as the Tang dynasty) and presumed to have been used as gambling tokens. Although many literary figures wrote about these coins their usage has always been failed to be mentioned by them. Most horse coins tend to be round coins, 3 centimeters in diameter with a circular or square hole in the middle of the coin. The horses featured on horse coins are depicted in various positions such as lying asleep on the ground, turning their head while neighing, or galloping forward with their tails rising high. it is currently unknown how horse coins were actually used though it is speculated that Chinese horse coins were actually used as game board pieces or gambling counters. Horse coins are most often manufactured from copper or bronze, but in a few documented cases they may also be made from animal horns or ivory. The horse coins produced during the Song dynasty are considered to be those of the best quality and craftsmanship and tend be made from better metal than the horse coins produced after. Some horse coins would feature the name of the famous horses they depicted. It is estimated that there are over three hundred variants of the horse coin. Some horse coins contained only an image of a horse while others also included an image of the rider and others had inscriptions which identify the horse or rider. During the beginning of the year of the horse in 2002 Chinese researchers Jian Ning and Wang Liyan of the National Museum of Chinese History wrote articles on horse coins in the China Cultural Relics Newspaper, noting that they found it a pity that the holes in the coins covered the saddles of the horses as this could have revealed more about ancient horse culture. Horse coins from the Song dynasty are the horse coins that are produced at the highest quality while horse coins from subsequent dynasties tend to be inferior compared to them.Horse coins often depicted famous horses from Chinese history or famous horses from Chinese mythology, while commemorative horse coins would also feature riders, such as the horse coin that features “General Yue Yi of the State of Yan” commemorating the event that a Yan general attempted to conquer the city of Jimo. Another horse coin depicts the Chinese mythological horse long ju (龍駒), this horse was first mentioned in the "Rites of Zhou". The Rites of Zhou describes a "dragon colt" as a horse which is "more than 8 chi (尺) tall" when its measured from its front hoof to the shoulder. One chi, during the Zhou dynasty period, was about 16.5 centimeters in the metric system.It is rare for horse coins to also feature images of horses in armour but a few rare examples from the Song dynasty exist (and it is even rarer for these coins to also feature a saddle) as well as some from the Mongol Yuan dynasty that feature horses wearing typical Mongolian horse armour. As horse coins from the Yuan dynasty are extremely rare there has not been much research undertaken in determining their usage and origins.

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