Kan He

    Chinese Tally and Scepter have a very long history, it was widely used in State Affairs and in Civil Systems. Before paper was invented and widely used in China, Tally and Scepter were made of bamboo, bronze etc.
    It is believed that Tally and Scepter were first made of bamboo, in chinese they were called Fu-(Tally) and Jie-(Scepter), as they were made of bamboo, both the character Fu-(Tally) and Jie- (Scepter)(the old form of character Jie-) have bamboo radical.
    Fu(Tally) was divided into halves for use, each of the two parties involved in an activity hold a half Fu(Tally). Each half Fu must meet and match with the other half for recognition purpose in the activity like the trade, military movement etc.. That's where the words FuHe-(original meaning was: one half tally matches with the other half, it then represented coincide.) and KanHe-(check and match) came from.
    It is the same for HeTong-(original meaning was: meet and match, it then represented Contract and Deed.) , which was made of bamboo, bronze, flax tissue and even ox hide etc., even more materials to choose from.
    After paper was widely used in China, In order to legitimize some activities,like that in trade, emissary and military systems etc., the Chinese created official paper licenses (had many different names, especailly when in different systems.) for approval.
    Consider that anyone might make a false license, a special system was applied, the system--still used in Asia today--of writing in a registration book with the edge of the license covering half of the writing surface, when the license was removed, only half of each written character remained in the registration book.
    The Chinese officials could check the authenticity of any license by placing it next to its corresponding half in the registration book. Only a real license would match exactly. Using this verification method, the Chinese were able to determine whether the license is a false or genuine one.
    The Chinese paper money and even earlier money order were just invented under such registration book and license system. So the paper money and money order was in fact a kind of license.
    Most of the writing on registration books and licenses was not done by hand but was printed with special stamps. Only a few letters would be handwritten with a brush, and either some of the letters or some of the numbers were in red.


The Registration Book and License system for paper money In Southern song Dynasty.                  

The Bronze Scepter carved with Chu state characters.

The Passport License and Military Tiger Tally


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