Tibetan silver

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Tibetan silver (chinese Zangyin) in modern usage refers to a variety of white non-precious metal alloys used primarily in jewelry components, with an appearance similar to aged silver.



Silver in Tibet

In ancient times silver was imported from regions near modern Iran (Bactria, Khorasan), and an association of silverwork with Iran appears to have developed. Silver was imported from China (as ingots), India (tankas), and from Mongolia and Siberia. Some silver was mined in Tibet, but imports were required to satisfy the country's requirements for minting. [1]

In addition to coinage silver was used in Tibet for repousse work, and as an inlay in brass and copper statues. [2]

Historically 'Tibetan Silver' did contain silver, and some old items may be predominantly silver. [3]

Modern usage

'Tibetan Silver' includes copper-tin, and copper-nickel alloys; zinc alloys; and other alloy compositions, as well as base metals such as iron plated with a silver alloy. An X-ray fluorescence analysis showed that six of seven items acquired online and described as 'tibetan silver' were alloys containing primarily copper, nickel, zinc. [3]

There are potential health hazards associated with Tibetan Silver due to the undefined or uncertain definition of the alloy - these include allergies due to Nickel, but also could include other serious hazards including the presence of lead or arsenic in the alloy. [3]


Zangyin is a chinese term for 'Tibetan silver' - it seems to originate from a scholar's term for the inferior silver adulterated with high proportion of copper used for Tibetan coinage in the late Qing Dynasty period. [4]

Related Research Articles

Alloy Mixture or metallic solid solution composed of two or more elements

An alloy is an admixture of metals, or a metal combined with one or more other elements. For example, combining the metallic elements gold and copper produces red gold, gold and silver becomes white gold, and silver combined with copper produces sterling silver. Combining iron with non-metallic carbon or silicon produces alloys called steel or silicon steel. The resulting mixture forms a substance with properties that often differ from those of the pure metals, such as increased strength or hardness. Unlike other substances that may contain metallic bases but do not behave as metals, such as aluminium oxide (sapphire), beryllium aluminium silicate (emerald) or sodium chloride (salt), an alloy will retain all the properties of a metal in the resulting material, such as electrical conductivity, ductility, opacity, and luster. Alloys are used in a wide variety of applications, from the steel alloys, used in everything from buildings to automobiles to surgical tools, to exotic titanium alloys used in the aerospace industry, to beryllium-copper alloys for non-sparking tools. In some cases, a combination of metals may reduce the overall cost of the material while preserving important properties. In other cases, the combination of metals imparts synergistic properties to the constituent metal elements such as corrosion resistance or mechanical strength. Examples of alloys are steel, solder, brass, pewter, duralumin, bronze, and amalgams.

Brass Alloy of copper and zinc

Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, in proportions which can be varied to achieve varying mechanical and electrical properties. It is a substitutional alloy: atoms of the two constituents may replace each other within the same crystal structure.

Bronze metal alloy consisting of copper and tin

Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12–12.5% tin and often with the addition of other metals and sometimes non-metals or metalloids such as arsenic, phosphorus or silicon. These additions produce a range of alloys that may be harder than copper alone, or have other useful properties, such as strength, ductility, or machinability.

Metal Type of material

A metal is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appearance, and conducts electricity and heat relatively well. Metals are typically malleable or ductile. A metal may be a chemical element such as iron; an alloy such as stainless steel; or a molecular compound such as polymeric sulfur nitride.

Cupronickel or copper-nickel (CuNi) is an alloy of copper that contains nickel and strengthening elements, such as iron and manganese. The copper content typically varies from 60 to 90 percent.

Cymbals are made from four main alloys, all of them copper-based. These are: bell bronze, malleable bronze, brass, and nickel silver.

Nickel silver Shiny alloy of copper, nickel, and zinc

Nickel silver, Maillechort, German silver, Argentan, new silver, nickel brass, albata, alpacca, is a copper alloy with nickel and often zinc. The usual formulation is 60% copper, 20% nickel and 20% zinc. Nickel silver is named due to its silvery appearance, but it contains no elemental silver unless plated. The name "German silver" refers to its development by 19th-century German metalworkers from the Chinese alloy known as paktong or baitong (白銅). All modern, commercially important nickel silvers contain significant amounts of zinc, and are sometimes considered a subset of brass.

Brazing High-temperature soldering; metal-joining technique by high-temperature molten metal filling

Brazing is a metal-joining process in which two or more metal items are joined together by melting and flowing a filler metal into the joint, with the filler metal having a lower melting point than the adjoining metal.

Orichalcum Real alloy and fictional material

Orichalcum or aurichalcum is a metal mentioned in several ancient writings, including the story of Atlantis in the Critias of Plato. Within the dialogue, Critias claims that orichalcum had been considered second only to gold in value and had been found and mined in many parts of Atlantis in ancient times, but that by Critias's own time orichalcum was known only by name.

Plating is a surface covering in which a metal is deposited on a conductive surface. Plating has been done for hundreds of years; it is also critical for modern technology. Plating is used to decorate objects, for corrosion inhibition, to improve solderability, to harden, to improve wearability, to reduce friction, to improve paint adhesion, to alter conductivity, to improve IR reflectivity, for radiation shielding, and for other purposes. Jewelry typically uses plating to give a silver or gold finish.

Nickel (Canadian coin)

The Canadian five-cent coin, commonly called a nickel, is a coin worth five cents or one-twentieth of a Canadian dollar. It was patterned on the corresponding coin in the neighbouring United States. It became the smallest-valued coin in the currency upon the discontinuation of the penny in 2013. Due to inflation, the purchasing power of the nickel continues to drop and currently the coin represents less than 0.5% of the country's lowest minimum hourly wage.

This article is a collection of numismatic and coin collecting terms with concise explanation for the beginner or professional.


Panchaloha, also called Pañcadhātu is a term for traditional five-metal alloys of sacred significance, used for making Hindu temple murti and jewelry.

Architectural metals

Metals used for architectural purposes include lead, for water pipes, roofing, and windows; tin, formed into tinplate; zinc, copper and aluminium, in a range of applications including roofing and decoration; and iron, which has structural and other uses in the form of cast iron or wrought iron, or made into steel. Metal alloys used in building include bronze ; brass ; monel metal and nickel silver, mainly consisting of nickel and copper; and stainless steel, with important components of nickel and chromium.

Colored gold

Pure gold is slightly reddish yellow in color, but colored gold in various other colors can be produced.

Historical money of Tibet

The use of historical money in Tibet started in ancient times, when Tibet had no coined currency of its own. Bartering was common, gold was a medium of exchange, and shell money and stone beads were used for very small purchases. A few coins from other countries were also occasionally in use.

Group 11 element

Group 11, by modern IUPAC numbering, is a group of chemical elements in the periodic table, consisting of copper (Cu), silver (Ag), and gold (Au). Roentgenium (Rg) is also placed in this group in the periodic table, although no chemical experiments have yet been carried out to confirm that it behaves like the heavier homologue to gold. Group 11 is also known as the coinage metals, due to their former usage. They were most likely the first three elements discovered. Copper, silver, and gold all occur naturally in elemental form.

The coinage metals comprise, at a minimum, those metallic chemical elements which have historically been used as components in alloys used to mint coins. The term is not perfectly defined, however, since a number of metals have been used to make "demonstration coins" which have never been used to make monetized coins for any nation-state, but could be. Some of these elements would make excellent coins in theory, but their status as coin metals is not clear. In general, because of problems caused when coin metals are intrinsically valuable as commodities, there has been a trend in the 21st century toward use of coinage metals of only the least exotic and expensive types.

Qing dynasty coinage Historical coinage of China

Qing dynasty coinage was based on a bimetallic standard of copper and silver coinage. The Manchu Qing dynasty ruled over China from 1644 until it was overthrown by the Xinhai revolution in 1912. The Qing dynasty saw the transformation of a traditional cash coin based cast coinage monetary system into a modern currency system with machine-struck coins, while the old traditional silver ingots would slowly be replaced by silver coins based on those of the Mexican peso. After the Qing dynasty was abolished its currency was replaced by the Chinese yuan by the Republic of China.


  1. Bue 1991, pp. 26-7.
  2. Bue 1991, p. 27.
  3. 1 2 3 Helmenstine, Anne Marie (27 Dec 2017), "What Is Tibetan Silver?", www.thoughtco.com
  4. Fei, Li (Jan 2018), "In the name of "Zangyin (Tibetan silver)": material, consumption and identity in ethnic tourism of China", Tourism Tribune, 33 (1): 74–85, ISSN   1002-5006