China is not only credited with having invented paper but it is also generally recognized to have been the first country in the world to use paper money.
The inspiration for China's paper money actually came from the "white deerskin" money (飞 钱) of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD).
True paper money became a major form of currency during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) with the issuance of the Jiao Zi (交子) and Qian Yin (钱引), and paper currency then continued under the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) which issued the Hui Zi () and Guan Zi (关子).
The Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) issued paper money known as Jiao Chao (交钞) and Bao Quan (宝券), and the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) continued the issuing of paper money with the Bao Chao (宝钞).
Due to certain drawbacks associated with paper money, the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) relied on coins for a long time with the exception of a brief period (1651-1661) during the Shun Zhi reign of Emperor Shi Zu.
However, the situation changed in 1853 during the Xian Feng reign of Emperor Wen Zong when large military expenditures were required to suppress the Taiping Rebellion. The Hu Bu Guan Piao ("Official Note of the Ministry of Interior and Finance" 户部官票) was issued in a denomination based on a tael of silver.
In addition, the Da Qing Bao Chao ("Treasure Note of the Great Qing"大清宝钞) was issued with the denomination based on bronze coins.
A frequently used term for the Guan Piao ( has become a commonly used word for "paper money" or "bank note" in general.
During the late Qing Dynasty, the government as well as private banks issued various paper notes denominated in silver dollars, cash coins and (machine-made copper coins 铜元).
This was the beginning of the issuance of modern currency in China which then expanded greatly following the 1911 Revolution and during the Republican Period.
A number of the more interesting bank notes from this period are displayed and discussed in the sections below.
But, Chinese paper money is more than just a convenient a form of currency.