Exhibition of Chinese money

Jul 18, 15:42 Filed under culture

Chinese Renminbi You have now a great chance to see a traveling exhibition called Money of China. This exhibition was put together by the National Library of the Czech Republic and the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Czech Republic. And it truly is interesting.

China has a long and fascinating history. For many people in Europe, China is a huge distant country with a communistic regime and population that is fairly big. Most recently, China has become the country with cheap labor force driving all European producers mad.

Anyway, this exhibition is about the history of money in China from the very beginning up to the present day. And it is to say that China is one of the world’s oldest civilizations so you will see some progress – from the shells, through money in shape of knives – neat idea, isn’t it? – through the coin money and paper money as we know them today.

In the exhibition there are English posters with brief history of every period. You will read about the problems with establishment of paper money, you will read about the unique status of Hong Kong, about the reforms that changed the planned economy into the market economy – yes it is really there! – and of course about the new versions of Renminbi, the official currency in China with its Yuan.

The exhibition is in the Klementinum Gallery, 1st floor. Klementinum itself is worth visiting so you can make two exhibitions at one time. ? It runs till August 26. Klementinum is in street Krizovnicka 190. Best accessible from the Charles Bridge.

5000 Czech crown banknote

Feb 25, 16:14 Filed under culture

5000 Czech crowns On this banknote could be no one else but Tomas Garrigue Masaryk – the chief founder and first president of independent Czechoslovakia.

He was a Czech statesman, sociologist and philosopher who was also an advocate of Czechoslovak independence, but not from the very beginning. He always supported democratic policies. He, however, did not openly support the idea of independence before First World War, but rather the transformation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire into a federation of self-governing nations.

When the WWI broke out, he knew that being part of the Empire is no longer possible, and had to flee the country to avoid arrest for treason. In the exile he formed the Czechoslovak national council, which was with the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, recognised by the Allies as the provisional government of Czechoslovakia. Masaryk proclaimed the independence of Czechoslovakia on the steps of the Capitol in Washington, D.C..

It is no wonder that Masaryk became the first president of the Czechoslovakia, and was reelected three more times. Masaryk resigned in 1935 because of his advanced age. He died two years afterwards at the age of 87.

Masaryk enjoyed and still does almost legendary authority among the Czech people. He was the great example of a perfect president. He was a man remarkable not only because of his personal courage and devotion to democracy, but for the harmony between his personality and work – the astonishing unity of his words and deeds.

During his presidency, Czechoslovakia became an island of democracy, a great educational workshop and a powerful industrial country. It developed a political system marked not only by free and fair elections but also by the rule of law, separation of powers, and the protection of fundamental liberties of speech, assembly, religion and property. This, however, lasted only 20 years. With Hitler and the Munich Agreement, but that is another story.

An interesting thing about Masaryk is that he married an American woman – Charlotte Garrigue – from whom he took his middle name, which is a radical move even by today’s standards, much less those of a century ago!

Masaryk gained the nickname of the „President-Liberator“ or the „daddy Masaryk“, meaning that he was close to everybody’s hearts. Many refer to him by his initials: TGM.

On the other side of this banknote there is Prague architecture.

See also Czech crown

2000 Czech crown banknote

Feb 22, 12:07 Filed under culture

2000 Czech crowns Czechs have always loved music. How else could you explain so many famous composers like Smetana, Dvorak, Janacek from a country this big? And when we talk about Czech music we can’t leave out Emma Destinova, or Emmy Destinn (1878-1930), who was one of the greatest opera singers of all time – and yes, that is the lady on the 2 000 CZK banknote.

Her real name was Emilia Pavlina Venceslava Kittova, but she adopted her music teacher’s last name for the stage. And soon she became an international opera diva performing in Berlin’s Court Opera, London’s Convent Garden as well as New York’s Metropolitan.

She was known for her ability to learn very quickly. She was fluent in German, Italian, French and English, all in addition to her native Czech. This skill helped her learn roles in several languages without problems. Not to mention that before beginning her vocal studies, she learned how to play both piano and violin so well that she could read any music at sight.

Her roles were various. To name only some – Verdi’s Aida, Mozart’s Pamina and Donna Anna, Wagner’s Eva, Elsa and Senta, Strauss´s Salome, Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. She sang the first Carmen to be recorded, although in German and not French.

Her life was really extraordinary. A movie about her was made in 1979. It is a Czech movie called „Divine Emma”. She gave her final concert in London in 1928, at the age of fifty. She died at the relatively young age of 52.

On the other side of the banknote there is a Muse with violins.

See also Czech crown

1000 Czech crown banknote

Feb 19, 18:48 Filed under culture

1000 Czech crowns On this banknote there is Frantisek Palacky who was a significant Czech historian and a politician. He was born in 1798 and died in 1876 which was, thanks to Palacky himself, a time period of the Czech National Revival – a movement which aimed to revive the Czech language, culture and history.

In this time, Czechs were part of the Austrian Habsburk empire – German was the official language back then. Theatres, newspapers, schools, just everything was in German and Czech language was fading away. And that is when Palacky came up with his monumental work The History of Bohemia, the first great synthesis of Czech history.

This book, which comes down to the year 1526, was founded on laborious research in the local archives of Bohemia and in the libraries of the chief cities of Europe. This book, although first printed in German and then translated into Czech, shook Czech national consciousness by reminding the nation’s past. And that is when the Czech National Revival started. It took few more decades till people were not ashamed to speak Czech anymore.

Palacky is the founder of modern Czech historiography and a leading figure in the political life of 19th-century Bohemia. Without Palacky, Czechs would most probably have spoken German by now.

See also Czech crown

500 Czech crown banknote

Feb 14, 18:52 Filed under culture

500 Czech crowns On the 500 CZK banknote there is painted Czech authoress Bozena Nemcova. Her best known and widely read book is named Babicka, in English Grandmother, published in 1855. It is a book about her childhood and her happy memories of her kind and wise grandmother, describing country life in the Czech lands in the 19th century. Czech kids read this book in schools even today.

Her life is from the very beginning shrouded in mystery – we don’t even know when she was born! Not even the year!! On her tombstone it says 1820 but her school records say 1818 or even further 1817! And the mystery remaines about her parents. Nemcova was born before her lawful parents – laundress and coachman for the duchess of Racibor, Katerina Zakanska – were married. So she was an illegitimate child. Since Nemcova was so different in appearance from these parents and the fact that she was allowed special privileges at the castle and was tutored there, the question is whether she wasn’t the illegitimate child of the duchess herself.

That is however not so important about her. The important thing is that she was a writer which was in her times quite unusual – woman and a writer. Back then writers were just among men. Using today’s words we would call her a feminist. She was breaking the ice also by trying to earn her living with her writing skills only which was, again, very bizarre. On the top of it, she wrote in Czech in a time when German was the number one language. It was not because she couldn’t speak German as she was well educated. She wrote in Czech because she believed that Czech was a nice language and should not be lost in favor of German.

She was very strong woman who was not afraid to challenge social and political attitudes if her time. On the other side of the banknote there is most likely a Muse.

See also Czech crown

200 Czech crown banknote

Feb 10, 15:32 Filed under culture

200 Czech crowns On the 200 CZK banknote there is Jan Amos Komensky, in English John Amos Comenius (1592-1670). Comenius was a Czech teacher, scientist, educator, writer and a protestant bishop. Because of his religion he was forced to leave Bohemia and therefore lived and worked in many different countries in Europe, and thus Comenius became known as the „Teacher of Nations“. He has been stamped the „Father of Modern Education“ since he came up with new ideas concerning teaching methods that we still use today.

Children in Comenius days were taught to repeat and memorize things which was, according to Comenius, of no use because repeating won’t get the students to think about the problem. Rather the subjects taught should have practical use and, where possible, demonstration and observation should be used. His motto was „learning through play“. He also believed that children should be never punished for failing but rather helped and encouraged. If Comenius’ ideas sound modern to you, it is because they were not applied for centuries.

He wrote many didactical books. To name some – The School of Infancy was a handbook for parents and educators, which was the first systematic pedagogic work in the world dealing with pre-school education. And the book Orbis Pictus, which means World in Pictures, was the first picture book for children used up to 19th century in the whole Europe.

One of many very interesting things about Comenius is that he was asked to become the first President of Harvard University. And a European Union school partnership program – Comenius – has been named after him.

On the other side of the banknote there are hands of a child and an adult, and written Orbis Pictus, commemorating the work of Comenius and that wisdom is passed from generation to generation.

The banknote is orange maybe because Comenius is buried in Naarden, Holland, and orange is Holland’s national colour.

See also main site about Czech currency (ceska koruna)

100 Czech crown banknote

Feb 6, 11:25 Filed under culture

100 Czech crowns On the 100 CZK banknote there is Charles IV (1316-1378), Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia who is regarded by Czechs as „Father of the Country“. Prague as it looks now owes a lot to him.

As he was fond of Prague, art and architecture in Bohemia flourished in his time. Many building projects were started during Charles’ reign, including the St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague’s New Town, the Charles University, and of course the Charles Bridge. Without Charles IV there would be a totally different city.

Charles IV established Prague as the cultural capital of central Europe and made it one of the most prosperous European cities at the time. He loved Prague although he was raised mostly in France. His whole life he spent concentrating his energy on development of this city.

He was well educated and could speak fluently five languages – Latin, Czech, German, French and Italian! Interesting thing is – what most people don’t even know – that he was born in Prague as Wenceslas but later chose for his confirmation name Charles. He married four times in his life.

On the other side of the banknote there is Charles IV kneeling in front of the St. Wenceslas, the patron saint of the Czech nation – the man on the horse on the Wencelsas Square. The banknote is green.

See also Czech crown – the currency in the Czech Republic.

5O Czech crown banknote and coin

Feb 3, 15:14 Filed under culture

50 Czech crowns Starting with the banknote 50 CZK. Although a 50 coin is now taking over, the banknote is still widely available. There is portrayed St. Anezka Ceska, in English Agnes of Bohemia, who lived from 1211 to 1282. She is the patron saint of Bohemia and founder of convent and Franciscan hospital in Prague.

She was a princess, daughter of the Czech ruling family and therefore lived in prosperity and was to be married to some nobleman. It was of course arranged marriage for political reasons. Like other noble women of her time, Agnes was a valuable pawn in the marriage game.

Agnes, however, wanted to devote herself to God only. She was engaged four times (to name just one husband wannabe – Henry III of England), but she always managed to break off the engagement – last time with the help of Pope Gregory IX himself. Then she could finally devote her life to religious works, to those that were in need, ill or suffering. She spent 50 years in the cloister helping others. Her charity is glorified.

She was canonised in 1989 by John Paul II, just few days before the Velvet revolution.

The banknote is red as the big heart of St. Agnes, as well as ours.

See also article about Czech currency – koruna.

Czech currency - crown (koruna) - Money, Money, Money!

Jan 30, 18:19 Filed under culture

Czech currency Let’s talk about money – it is always a juicy topic. But don’t worry I am not going to sing the famous song. I want to talk about the Czech currency – the Czech crown (koruna in Czech), abbreviated as Kč, internationally CZK.

When I travel abroad, every time I study the currency. It is interesting to see how it looks like in every country. And I always wonder why they put this or that on their banknotes. It has some meaning I am sure. You don’t have to brood over Czech money anymore for I am going to tell you who are the persons on the Czech banknotes and why they are there.

Although the Czech Republic is part of the European Union (since May 1st 2004), it is however not a member of the Euro Zone yet, and thus the Euro is not used here. For couple more years we can therefore use crowns and hellers (haler in Czech).

The great thing about Czech Republic currency is that the bigger the money, the more valuable it is. And this is valid both for coins as for banknotes. That’s why I got so confused in the US where dime is smaller but is worth more than 5 cents! This can’t happen to you in the Czech Republic! It is really easy.

1 crown consists of 100 hellers. Czech coins are 50 heller and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 CZK. But I don’t want to talk about the little money. Let’s talk big.

Czech banknotes are 50 CZK, 100 CZK, 200 CZK, 500 CZK, 1 000 CZK, 2 000 CZK and 5 000 CZK. To find out about the details, continue reading.

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