So this is by no means a restart of this blog. In a perfect world I’d post regularly (not with years in between), but I simply lack time and motivation. I just had an observation that I’d like to share with the internet.
At the moment I’m writing an essay on the usage of history on the banknotes of post-independence Ukraine and today I, again, visited the royal coin cabinet of Stockholm. I was very happy to find a couple of coins from the medieval Kiev Rus’ era featuring to dudes which have returned in the modern era. The two coins above are from the 10th and 11th centuries and the feature the Rus’ princes Volodymyr (often called the great) and Yaroslav (the wise). To the right of the coins are portrays of the princes on the current edition of the Ukrainian hryvnia. It’s fascinating that a thousand years since these princes lived they still play an important role in the creation of a modern Ukrainian identity. It should of course be mentioned that they also play a huge role in the creation of modern Russian identity as well, even though I’ve yet to seen them on the ruble.
Who knows, maybe I’ll write some more in the future!
Filed under Coins, Culture
China is a country that you really wouldn’t call communistic today. The current Chinese superpower is far from what the country was in the 1950s and 60s. The country is still highly authoritarian with only one accepted political party and with limitations in for example freedom of speech. Economically speaking the country is acting far from the ideals of Marx, but this is what has given the country its international success. But when it comes large parts of the country’s population the development have been devastating. Wealth in China is increasing hand in hand with pollution.
The country has certainly made an interesting journey during this past century, but whenever change is happening too quickly the man featured on this 100 yuan banknote has always been mentioned as an ideal to strive back to. This is Mao Zedong (1893-1976) who lead the communist party during the civil war that followed the Second World War. The communists were victorious and the country would change down to its foundations. Mao is a well-known figure, both from his portrait at Tiananmen Square in Beijing and pieces of art by Warhol. In China many see him as a symbol for the old and better way that existed before the economical reformations. As with many communist leaders they often get a nostalgic aura surrounding them. Let’s not forget that Mao was responsible for the murders of millions of dissident, the starvation of millions during the Great Leap Forward (1958-1961) and the destruction of cultural treasures during the Culture Revolution (1966-1976).
Now we got three bankotes left…
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791), possibly the world’s most famous representative of classical music, is featured on this Austrian euro coin. Mozart’s signature is also featured and I think this is a very nice touch. Under the text EURO next to Mozart you have the outlines of a flag. If the striped areas would be colored red and the smooth area white you’d have the Austrian flag. Mozart, born in Salzburg, is a huge symbol of the country, and he’s present almost everywhere – in statues, landmarks and in souvenirs. This is something I experienced this summer when Vienna was one of the European capitals I visited.
So I’ve been in Austria, but I actually got this coin in Italy. The euro coins have special motifs on one side, representing one of the countries, but they are spread all over the euro zone. A good friend of mine is a musician and I would think that this is his favorite coin of all time. He also got one in Italy, but he lost it when he wasn’t thinking about which coin he paid with. Good thing I managed to get another for him later.
The euro replaced the Austrian schilling in 2002.
Moldova is an ex-soviet state which gained its independence with the fall of the USSR in 1990/1991. Since the independence Moldova has had quite a troublesome time. The country hasn’t had the same economic development like successful ex-soviet states such as Estonia, and Moldova is today considered to be one of Europe’s poorest countries. It’s been politically unstable as well. Just a couple of years ago, in 2009, the parliament was besieged by angry protesters. Fortunately Moldova has been spared by the type of dictatorship still present in Belarus.
Unfortunately I would have to say that Moldova is one of Europe’s most anonymous countries. A minority of people in Sweden knows the location of the country and fewer knows the name of the capital Chișinău (many people think that this is hard to pronounce). It’s sad, because I think that the country has a lot to offer, with a rich and diverse culture and history.
The Moldovan coat of arms is featured on the coin, and my favorite part of is the small cross in the eagle’s beak. The bani is the subunit of the Moldovan leu.
One last thing that I need to say about Moldova is that they always have very catchy song in the Eurovision Song Contest (a music competition with European countries represented by one song each). This song is from Moldova’s first year in the competition. In translation it’s called: Grandmamma Beats the Drum.
Filed under Coins, Culture
Following Estonia and Latvia, we now come to the third and last of the Baltic States. The centų is the subunit of the Lithuanian litas. As with many European currencies the litas was supposed to have been replaced by the euro in an earlier state, but since the economic crisis has severely damaged the union this has been moved to the future. Now the litas is set to be repaced in 2014.
Oh, and did you hear that the EU will receive the Nobel Peace Prize this year? Such a bad timing… But now I’m drawing away from the subject. Maybe I’ll write another post just concerning this prize…
The mounted horseman on the coin is from the Lithuanian coat of arms. This is the symbol used on all coins and have been used in Lithuania and the area since the 14th century. The identity of the horseman is unknown, though there seems to be a couple of theories. I would put my money on him being some sort of nobility of high importance from an early age. The cross on the knights shield is known as the Cross of Jagiellons in Lithuania and has been used by officials in Lithuania since the country was first Christianized. This also happened in the 14th century.
This is one of two common designs of the Ukrainian 1 Hrivnja coin. The text that reads YKPAÏNA (Okraina) is the name of Ukraine in Ukrainian and above the name you have a trident in the country’s coat of arms. This trident (sometimes also interpreted as a hawk) dates back to the medieval ages. The trident is also strongly connected with Volodymyr Velikij (Vladimir the great) and it is he who is featured on the other side of the coin. Volodymyr was the ruler of the Kiev Rus’ kingdom from the late 10th century until the year 1015. Kiev is today the capital of Ukraine with about 4 million inhabitants. The country itself has about 45 million inhabitants. It’s one of Europe’s largest country, but unfortunately overshadowed by its huge neighbor, Russia.
The early history of the Kiev Rus’ kingdom is very interesting. In the beginning it was actually founded, to a large extent, by Viking settlers coming from Sweden. The Swedish Vikings went eastward (the Danish and the Norwegians went westward) and this led to many places of Eastern Europe becoming colonies and settlements ruled by these Vikings. There’s a theory that the Vikings that founded Kiev Rus’ in the 9th century originated from the region of Roslagen, the coastal area of the province Uppland of Sweden (where I’m at). The name of Kiev Rus’ should by this theory come from Roslagen. Kiev Rus’ later became a vital part in the founding of the Russian empire, or Rossiya. It’s quite a funny thought that some people from Sweden in the 9th century are the cause of Russia bearing its name of today.
Let’s continue with Volodymyr. On the coin he’s holding a cathedral – symbolizing the fact that it was Volodymyr that introduced Christianity to Kiev Rus’ and other parts of Eastern Europe. The cathedral does actually exist in reality, in Kiev. Its name is Sofiyskyi sobor (Saint Sophia Cathedral) and it was Volodymyr that decided that it would be built. Saint Sophia Cathedral is a UNESCO world heritage site since 1990 and it’s as beautiful outside as it is inside (but you’re not allowed to take photos inside). I’ve got first hand experiences from this cathedral because I visited it last year, and it was amazing.
Ukraine is a country with a lot to offer – both for travelers and coin collectors!
Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, was born in 1809. This 2£ coin was minted in 2009 commemorating the birth of this very important scientist. The obverse side features Elizabeth II who’s been queen since 1952. The reverse side features Charles Darwin face to face with, the origin or our species, a chimpanzee. Of course, humans haven’t evolved from chimpanzees but according to Darwin’s theory we and other primates share the same ancestors. Darwin and his theory were despised during his lifetime and it wasn’t until the 20th century that his ideas were taken seriously – when they became the truth.
This coin was one of the first ones I managed to get my hands on during my visit to London earlier this year. And later during my stay there I met Darwin again – now as a huge statue inside the Natural History Museum.