Mystery of the Chinese Medallion: What does it say?
December 27, 2010 6:49 PM   Subscribe

What is this Chinese medallion? What does it say?

My dad acquired this medallion in China in 1945 or 1946. He entered China with the US Army and traveled through Kunming, Yunnan, to Shanghai. Can anybody tell me what it says, or what it might have been used for?

One side.
The other side.
posted by Jasper Fnorde to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can't tell you what they mean, but the text in the first picture is written in what are known as "seal characters".
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:12 PM on December 27, 2010

Best answer: The first side "one side" is ancient script and was hard for me to read, but I just asked my coworker (I'm in China) and she says it says “胜利同盟”, or "sheng li tong meng", which means "Victory League".

As for the other side, it doesn't look like Chinese characters at all, and my coworker had no idea what it was supposed to say. It may be a design or some very ancient form of Chinese.
posted by bearette at 7:14 PM on December 27, 2010

Best answer: The reverse side is photographed upside-down; it's 蒋 (simplified form of 蔣) in a weird pseudo-seal script (much cruder than I would expect to see on a medallion). It's the name of a plant of some sort but in my experience it's better known as a proper noun: the "Chiang" in Chiang Kai-shek.
posted by No-sword at 7:46 PM on December 27, 2010

Also, note that bearette's transcription is how you would write what's on the front of the medallion in China today, post-simplification. The medallion uses the traditional orthography: 勝利同盟 (first character is different).
posted by No-sword at 7:51 PM on December 27, 2010

My dad (born in China in 1928) says it is a victory medal issued for the end of WWII. That makes sense given the circumstances. He adds: a lot of American servicemen were in Yunnan at the time General Stillwell was building the Burma road.
posted by girlhacker at 8:03 PM on December 27, 2010

I found an auction of same here.
posted by girlhacker at 8:07 PM on December 27, 2010

Best answer: (copying text from that link in here because it will go away one day and AskMeFi has saved me before with actual info missing from dead links)

Chiang Kai Shek Allied Victory Copper Medal, UNC. This medal is sent by Chiang Kai Shek as his personal expression of appreciation to the members of the US Armed Forces who served in China. Design of the coin follows the pattern of coins used in China from three to five hundred years ago. On the original coins, there was a square hole in the center. This has been filled in, in order to carry Chinese characters on each side. On one side, there are four characters. These stand for "Allied Victory." On the reverse side, there is one character. This is the chop of the Generalissimo, and stands for "Chiang."
posted by girlhacker at 8:21 PM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks! Very helpful.
posted by Jasper Fnorde at 4:24 AM on December 28, 2010

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