1 - 2 - 3

Sometime around 1650, while still in retirement in Nanking, Li Kuang-t'ien undertook to write and publish an account of the defense of Kaifeng. The account is a day-by-day record of the siege. The original title of this work was The Daily Record of the Siege of Pien. In 1664, a Mr. Liang, a Censor who had been present at the siege had the book reprinted so that "after-generations might ... know of the bitterness of the defense of the city of Ta-liang, and the grief and fear of its misery," also so that might be remembered Li Kuang-fien's "loyalty and integrity, his ability and powers of control.—5  This edition changed the title of the work to Diary of the Defense of the City. In 1689, Li Luan-chieh had the text of this work revised by Chou Ssu-sheng, an eminent scholar, to improve the literary quality of the text. According to Li Luan chieh, Li Kuang-fien in his will had stated that his work was only a rough draft produced in his illness, and that it was his wish that its style be improved. This improved text was published in 1689 as Diary of the Defense of Pien. This text contained a long colophon by Li Luan-chieh giving this history of the text. This same text was reprinted in 1708 with a new colophon by Li Kuang-fien's grandson. It was reprinted again in 1852 the Honan official printing bureau.

About the very time that Li Kuang-fien was composing " his Diary, the rebuilding of Kaifeng under the new emperor Shun Chih (1644-1662,) the first of the Ch'ing dynasty, resulted in the opening of a new mint in Kaifeng for the minting of cash. This took place in 1647. This mint in Kaifeng was called the Ho Nan Sheng Chu or "Honan Provincial Mint." This name is indicated on coins of this mint by the Chinese letter rendered in English as "Ho." This mintmark appears on the reverse of the coins (the side with two letters,) to the right of the central square hole. Cash continued to be issued from this mint almost to the end of the Ch'ing dynasty. The coins of Kaifeng, and particularly the early cash, are our best numismatic souvenirs of this heroic, if tragic, moment in the history of China and of its small community of Jews.

Though this small group of Jews lived among millions of others of other faiths, many of them rose to positions of dignity and honor. None distinguished himself more than Li Kuang-fien, the defender of Kaifeng.

Cash of Emperor K'ang Hsi (1662-1722) issued in Kaifeng. (Schjoth 1434A)
Cash of Emperor Shun Chih (1644-1661) issued in Kaifeng. The top and bottom characters of the obverse are the emperor's name. (Schjoth 1400)

Footnotes

  1. The story told in this article is reconstructed from various references and translated texts scattered throughout William Charles White; Chinese Jews, a Compilation of Matters Relating to the Jews of K'ai-feng Fu 2nd ed. (New York, 1966) - 3 vols. bound in one. Besides this source, I have also consulted general works on Chinese history and numismatics.
  2. White, II, 63.
  3. White, III, 117.
  4. White, III, iv.
  5. White, III, 150.

1 - 2 - 3


A.I.N.A.
P.O. Box 20255
Fountain Hills, AZ 85268
(818) 225-1348