The Chou Dynasty ( 1125 – 255 BC ) paved the way for the first unification
of China in 221 BC. During the time of the Chou, China evolved from a feudal
state with power divided among vassals to one with a strong centralized
government. The use of monetary shells ( cowries ) slowly changed during
this early historical period to bone and then to other materials.
These cowrie-shaped bone pieces were very simple, showing their
denomination based on the number of striations ( scratches )
across the central spine usually holed for stringing.