Ancient Thai Currencies


Introduction :

"Pod Duang Money" was made from bars of silver bent or folded and hammered into shape stamped with the mark of the ruler.

Standardized Pod Duang money was used during the Sukhothai , Ayutthaya,Thon Buri and Rattanakosin periods. In the reign of King Mongkut, the country was opened for commerce and trade with the West. Because of the increasing demand for currency in circulation due to the rapid expansion of foreign trade, King Mongkut ordered the modern machines to mint flat coins instead of Pod Duang. From that point until the present day, coins became part of monetary system of Thailand.

Sukhothai Period (13th - 15th Centry A.D.)


Cowrie shells
, or Bia, were used for small denominations in Thailand for hundreds of years. They were brought into Sukhothai by oversea merchants from the Maldive Islands in the Indian Ocean. There were 8 different types of cowrie shells: Bia Plong, Bia Kaa , Bia Chan, Bia Nang, Bia Moo, Bia Pong Lom, Bia Bua and Bia Tum. Bia Chan was of regular size and was widely used in China and countries in Africa since the ancient time.

Pod Duang was made from a piece of a small silver ingot with weights varying considerably according to size. This type of money was unique, using silver manually formed into eliptical bars with both ends pressed inwards and hammered into shape resembling a Duang or a worm called "Ngoen Klom" or "Ngoen Pod Duang" or "Bullet Money".

Generally there were 2 marks stamping on Pod Duang, one of which was constant, representing the Dynasty's Mark or Kingdom's Mark. The other varied and represented the personal emblem of the reigning monarch.. During the Sukhothai period, most pieces bore more than two marks such as Ratchawat ( Pyramid of dots), an elephant, the Wheel of Law (Buddhist Symbol), etc.



Ayutthaya Period (1350 – 1767 A.D.)


Pod Duang of Ayutthaya Kingdom were reshaped to be more rounded. The legs of Pod Duang became shorter until the hole between the legs disappeared and gradually the cuts grew smaller and smaller and finally disappeared. Later in the Ayutthaya period,the legs were replaced by a small eliptical nick, called "Met Kao San" in Thai, which could be found on one side or often lower part on the thigh of the coins.

Pod Duang was usually stamped with two marks on top and in front. The most common marks on Pod Duang were emblems of Ayutthaya Kingdom known as Dharmachakra or "Wheel of the Law" of the Buddhist faith or Chakra, one of the attributes of Vishnu with beautiful design. Other marks of Pod Duang of the Ayutthaya period included conch shell, Krut (garuda), elephants and anchors. It was believed that each king might have issued his own separate distinctive coinage by changing the marks on Pod Duang to commemorate his own reign.


Thonburi Period (1767-1782 A.D.)


The coinage of this reign followed the Ayutthaya system consisting of Pod Duang and Cowrie Shells.

Pod Duang of the Thon Buri period was similar to Pod Duang of the late Ayutthaya Period. There were the Chakra mark representing the mark of the kingdom, and personal mark was figure of tri or trident, weapon of Vishnu.


Rattanakosin Period


King Phra Buddha Yodfa Chulalok the Great (King Rama I)
1782-1809 A.D.

Pod Duang in this period was similar to the one used during Thonburi Period. The Unalom mark was regarded as the king's personal mark which had the form of a conch shell. The other mark was the Chakra, representing the Chakri Dynasty.


King Phra Buddha Lert La Nabhalai (King Rama II)
1809-1824 A.D.

The mark of Chakri Dynasty was still Chakra. While the Krut or Garuda, the vehicle of Vishnu, was chosen as His Majesty's personal royal emblem for Pod Duang.


King Phra Nang Klao (King Rama III)
1824-1851 A.D.

King Rama III ordered the Pod Duang of this reign to be issued bearing Chakra and Prasart marks. Pod Duang circulated in his reign consisted of both silver and gold, commemorative issues and issues for general use. Gold and silver commemorative Pod Duang were issued for many special occasions such as Krut Sio (Garuda in Profile) mark, Dok Mai (Flower) mark, Bai Matum ( the Bale-Fruit leaf) mark, Arrowhead Mark, and Chaleo mark.


King Mongkut (King Rama IV)
1851-1868 A.D.

King Mongkut ordered bullet coins to be minted for distribution with stampings of Chakra and Mongkut (Siamese Crown, the King's former name). During his reign, the king also ordered the production of silver and gold bullet coins bearing "Phra Tao" or Royal Water Pot mark.

In this period, the country was opened for commerce and trade with the west. Foreign trade and commerce expanded rapidly, And the currency supply did not meet the demand of foreign merchants. So King Mongkut ordered flat coins to be minted with modern machines, thereby establishing the Royal Mint or Rong Kasap Sitthikarn in 1860 A.D.

Contemporany Currenecies Neighbouring Kingdoms

Lanna Kingdom

               Under King Mengrai and subsequent monarchs, the Lanna Kingdom were responsible for the introduction of several different types of cast coinage :


Tok Money

Tok Money was made of silver mixed with some alloy. There were two types of Tok Money, Chiang Mai Tok and Nan Tok.


Chiang Mai Tok

Chiang Mai Tok was usually found with a blackened top while the underside was yellowish brown caused by the chemical reaction of the silver alloy mixing with egg yolk or chicken blood during the casting process.


Pig-Mouth Money (Ngoen Pak Moo)

Pig-Mouth Money (Ngoen Pak Moo) took its name from the rather odd shape of its high dome and unusual texture of better quality silver.


Flower Money or Pak Chee Money

Flower Money or Pak Chee Money resembled sea shells or flowers. This type of money contained a high percentage of fine silver and thus was considered a high denomination .


Chiang Money

Chiang Money was apparently the standard coinage of the ancient kingdom of Lanna. It was also considered the highest denomination among other types of money in the Lanna kingdom. Chiang money bore three distinctive marks - the Royal seal, the principality of origin, and the weight value.


Sycee Money

Sycee was Chinese money made of silver ingots which was brought down from Yunan with the trading caravans. This type of money was saddle-shaped or shoe-shaped.

Lan Chang Kingdom

               While Sukhothai and Lanna power were the main focus of development in the central and northern part of Thailand, other Thai or related groups had developed small communities in Laos, northeast Thailand and along the Mekhong river.


Hoi Money

Hoi Money, Tiger tongue, money or market money in silver were all prevailing currencies of the period. This money might carry two or more marks stamped on its concave surface, but usually three. The constant marks stamped on the Hoi money were elephants and the Chakra, but sometimes with one more marks of lotus, bunches of flowers or Dok Pikul etc.


Lat Money

Lat Money was produced in different sizes denoting value denomination. Some, if not all, were marked with either an elephant or a snake symbol. Lat money seemed to have been used as a smaller value currency compared to Tiger Tongue pieces.


Lat Hoi Money

Lat Hoi Money was produced in different sizes denoting value denomination. Some, if not all, were marked with either an elephant or a snake symbol. Lat Hoi money seemed to have been used as a smaller value currency compared to Tiger Tongue pieces.

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