Reference: Hartill 15.14-15.27
Later Zhou Dynasty (951-60)
Zhou Yuan Tong Bao 955 AD
Mint mark: Crescent
Zhou Yuan tong bao (Chinese: 周元通寶) coins were issued by Emperor Chai Rong Shi Zong from 955. The pattern is also based on the Kai Yuan coin. They were cast from melted-down bronze statues from Buddhist temples. When reproached for this, the Emperor uttered a cryptic remark to the effect that the Buddha would not mind this sacrifice. It is said that the Emperor himself supervised the casting at the many large furnaces at the back of the palace. The coins have amuletic properties because they were made from Buddhist statues, and are particularly effective in midwifery – hence the many later-made imitations.
A crescent-shaped and dot marks are often found on the reverse. The legend is that the Empress Wende inadvertently stuck one of her fingernails in a wax model of the coin when it was first presented to her, and the resulting mark was reverentially retained. Other imperial ladies have also been proposed as the source of these nail marks, especially the Imperial Consort Yang. Peng explores the possibility of a foreign source for them. More prosaically, they appear to be a control system operated by the mint workers.