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This 10,000 dollars Hell banknote is a form of Joss money. Hell Bank notes are also called “Spirit Money” and are used in funeral ceremonies in many far-eastern countries to provide money and goods in the afterlife for the dead person.

Hell is not as the Christian faith believes it to be rather it simply designates where the souls of the departed reside. The banknotes are redeemable in the afterlife for goods and money as required.

These banknotes mimic the design and dimensions of the U.S. $10,000 banknotes. Salmon P. Chase has been replaced with the Jade Emperor.

Signatories to this note series are Yen Loo, the King of Hell, and Yu Wong, the Jade Emperor.

The rather grand pagoda on the reverse of this note and many others is often referred to as the Bank of Hell corporate HQ.

The Hell notes are many and varied and offer a colourful and inexpensive avenue of banknote collecting.



China Hell Banknote 10,000 Dollars

Size: 155 mm x 65 mm

Material: Paper (Joss money)

Design: Mimics the 10,000 treasury bill from the United States


Hell money is a form of joss paper printed to resemble legal tender bank notes. This faux money has been in use since at least the late 19th century and possibly much earlier. Early 20th century examples took the resemblance of minor commercial currency of the type issued by businesses across China until the mid-1940s. The notes are not an officially recognized currency or legal tender since their sole intended purpose is to be offered as burnt-offerings to the deceased as often practiced by the Chinese and several East Asian cultures. The identification of this type of joss paper as “hell bank notes” or “hell money” and singling them out is largely a western phenomenon, since these items are simply regarded as yet another form of joss paper in East Asian cultures and have no special name or status.

Hell money springs from a very old tradition in Chinese culture, arguably stretching back as far as 1600 BC. Archaeologists have found tombs of that era in China with imitation metal money placed among the human remains. China has been using some form of paper money since the 9th Century, and paper money’s been dominant there for nearly 800 years. Joss paper copies of this money have been burned at funerals and graves for almost as long, and some people still prefer to use this form of spirit “cash” in paying their respects today.

The name “Hell money” is thought to derive from a misunderstanding between the first Christian missionaries to reach China and the people they tried to convert there. Thinking “Hell” meant merely the afterlife in general, rather than the zone it sets aside for evildoers alone, Chinese people were happy to use this word on their dead relatives’ offerings. The habit’s stuck ever since, with a dozen “Hell Money” designs appearing for every one which labels itself “Heaven Money” instead.

The Chinese concept of the afterlife is that the dead person’s spirit lives on, doing much the same things it did in life. It follows that money will be needed to buy all those little treats that make death worth living, as well as the occasional gift like the consumer goods I found in San Francisco. Sometimes, the hope is that sending your loved ones cash in this way will help to speed their progress through the afterlife’s various stages to a happy reincarnation. This can be achieved either by supplementing the offerings they made in life to atone for their sins, or simply by bribing the spirit world’s ruling administrators. Chief among these are Yu Huang, also known as the Jade Emperor, and Yan Luo, the King of Hell. Their twin signatures appear on many of these banknotes, though the Romanised spelling often varies.

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