Tok or Chicken Blood Money of the Kingdom of Lan in Modern Day Thailand

I’ll continue my series of posts by focusing on ethnographic numismatics by sharing these three pieces of silver ingots, from what is modern day Thailand.

These silver ingot currencies were from the Kingdom of Lan Na, which flourished from the 13th to 18th centuries (specifically from 1292-1775). The Kingdom of Lan Na, also known as Lanna or Lannathai, was an Indianized state in what is modern day Chiang Mai. 🇹🇭

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Lan Na was one of the “first major Tai (Siamese) kingdoms in Thai history. It was founded by Mangrai (r. c. 1259–1317) [and] was a powerful state and a center for the spread of Theravada Buddhism … it was [also] famous for its Buddhist scholarship and literature. It remained independent until it was conquered by Myanmar (Burma) in the 16th century. The Siamese did not reassert control over the area until the 19th century.” 🤔

These ingots were specifically made around the 15th to 16th Centuries, but it is difficult to say. These types of money are known, according to a Spink Auction description, as “Tok money from the city of Nan in northern Thailand of … also known as blood money.” I can speculate why it is known as “blood money” because of the color of these ingots. Specifically, these were lacquered and hence, in very nice and preserved, collector’s condition. There is no chicken blood that some people may say. That is untrue. We are able to see one specimen have a red coating while the other two do not have red coating on the top; yet, all pieces have nice patina on the bottom, as similar to examples sold by Spink. Grades XF nice cast. ⭐️

Appearance wise, these are large, coin shaped chunks of silver with what I think are high-grade silver. On the back there is lacquer and some form of gilt, and there is also what looks like round stamps on the obverse and some depression. They are also pierced, which is normal as compared to auction specimens, and hence, may be carried on a string.🤔

Size: These specimens weigh 66.5g, 65.5g, and 52g. They are around the value of over 5 Baht to around 4 Baht. They are quite heavy, similar to my Chinese sycee.

Provenance: ex. European Collection (1990s to Mid-2000s).