A Research on Dun [Dun] -
A Kind of Silver Coin Circulated in Taiwan
during Holland Colonial Period (1624-1662)

Stephen Tai
Jun.14, 1998

Holland Utrecht Leeuwendaalder 164?

Holland City of Campen Arendschelling


In the early 17th century, Taiwan was an uncultivated and undeveloped island where once had not been accepted by the civilized Mainland China as part of it, for both their geographical and cultural departures. In Year 1624, i.e. the 4th year of Tien Chi in Ming Dynasty, Hollanders invaded into Penghu, a tiny island even much more smaller than Taiwan, yet more closer to Fukien Province of Mainland China, and where Chinese empire started claiming its sovereignty since Yuan Dynasty. Ming's army fought against the Hollanders for 9 months, however before the war came to an end, the two parties had both been exhausted. They eventually signed up a peace treaty prescribing that the Hollanders shall withdraw from Penghu and other Chinese territories, and, if they like, move eastward to Taiwan island, the Chinese government will have no objection. In the same year, the Hollanders occupied Taiwan island accordingly, ever since became the ruler of this island for 38 years, until 1662 Zheng Cheng Gong (Koxinga, Guo Xing Ye ) and his troops expelled them.

A Kind of Silver Coin Called Dun [Dun]

During the 38 year's rule of Holland, Taiwan was reported to use a kind of silver coins, in Mandarin called Dun (Dun), as its legal tender.

According to Tai Wan Tong Shi (The Overall History of Taiwan) written by Lian Heng (Lian Heng), a grown-up male inhabitant was to be levied 4 Dun per year as poll tax. The tax income of the Holland colonial government in Taiwan, was from 3,100 Dun for the first few years, then increased to 33,700 Dun at the prime time.

What is Dun ? Is it a name of coin? Or, Is it a monetary unit? As far as I know, Chinese historians do not pay attention about it, for I have not found any material in Chinese explaining where does this word come from. I have great interest in collecting a Dun that had been circulated on my homeland more than 300 years ago, however, before that, I have to know first: What does Dun mean? And, What kind of Holland silver dollars could be it?

A Netherlands friend who being familiar with Holland coins indicated to me: No such a pronunciation of "Dun" in their language is related to their monetary terminology. In such a case, it is not possible that Dun was a monetary unit. It occurs to me, the word could be named by then Taiwan natives, it has to be interpreted in Chinese! The word: Dun in Mandarin, means Shield. I was suddenly lighted up: It seems to be all the Holland coins have a shield or a emblem which is looked like shield, the Taiwan natives must be naming their new silver coins after this characteristic, for they did not understand the words as inscribed on the coins.

Aiming at expanding their commercial opportunity and colonial business in Asia, Holland government established its East India Company in 1602, who was authorized with many privileges including mintage. The kind of Holland silver coins for Taiwan colony could be minted and supplied by such company, but we can not confirm this, nor know exactly what coins had been minted for circulation in Taiwan. Besides, there were other Holland silver coins possible to be circulated in Taiwan. The shown 2 Holland silver coins were both provincial issues, minted at the time when Holland ruled Taiwan, and also carried symbol of Shield, the Leeuwendaalder weighed 27+g, is similar to the Spanish Pillar Dollar which was introduced into Taiwan later, it might be perhaps circulated in Taiwan then as one Dun.

Foreign Silver Coins Circulated in China