How important was salt in ancient times? Why is private sale not allowed? It turned out to be very learned

 How important was salt in ancient times? Why is private sale not allowed? It turned out to be very learned

It is not only a kind of seasoning. As a material strictly controlled by the state, although people can buy it in every store now, in fact, salt is still managed by the government in modern China, and this phenomenon was more strict in ancient times. Today, I would like to show you how the ancient government controlled salt.

The salt we are exposed to today can be roughly divided into two types, one is the salt mined from salt mines, and the other is the well-known sea salt. In fact, most of the salt people eat comes from minerals.

The position of salt in ancient times

The status of salt in ancient times should be very high. In modern times, due to the development of chemical technology, there are more and more kinds of seasonings. Therefore, in peoples daily life, salt is only the most common seasoning, and can be bought all over the country.

But in ancient times, salt could only be purchased in areas prescribed by the government. It can be said that salt is a national strategic material, and its importance has exceeded a lot.

In ancient times, salt was a daily necessity for people, and it was very important for people to eat salt. If people dont eat salt for a period of time, their bodies will have nausea and vomiting symptoms, and their limbs are weak and unable to put into labor. As time goes on, human life will be threatened.

We should know that there was no substitute for salt in ancient times, so salt is related to the survival and safety of the whole countrys people. If the government does not control and is controlled by some unscrupulous businessmen, the security of the whole country will be threatened.

Because salt is monopolized by the government, the price and profit margin is large, and it is also a necessity. People must buy it. Therefore, each government can bring a lot of wealth to the country by relying on salt, which is used in various fields of the country. Even sometimes salt can be used to replace the wages given to soldiers and workers. It can be imagined how much wealth salt is.

It is conducive to the maintenance of rule. As an army to protect the rule of the state, soldiers need strong Qi to be able to fight with foreign enemies. If people dont take salt for a long time, they will lose their strength. Therefore, the control of salt can control the combat effectiveness of the army to a certain extent.

Moreover, if there are non-governmental organizations that want to rebel, the government can make these organizations lose their combat effectiveness through the control of salt. To a certain extent, the control of salt can also maintain the rule of the feudal dynasty.

In ancient times, salt was sold through two channels. One was to allow people to make salt, but the government collected taxes from it. However, this method has great disadvantages. First of all, it is not clear how many countries make salt by common people, so it is difficult to collect corresponding taxes if the quantity is not clear. Many unscrupulous businessmen make huge profits through the loopholes, which is undoubtedly stealing the states tax revenue.

At the beginning of the Han Dynasty, the state was to open up the salt industry. Local princes and merchants accumulated a lot of wealth, which threatened the central government. Therefore, after Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty, people were not allowed to make salt privately.

The second is that the state uniformly controls the production and sale of salt. Lets take a look at the system in which the government supervised the sales of merchants in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. In the early Qing Dynasty, the salt producing areas were invited to public bidding, allowing major salt merchants to compete with each other, and those with higher prices could get the production and sales rights of salt producing areas, also known as salt introduction.

Businessmen who buy this means paying taxes to the state in advance. With the right of production and sales, they can get salt from salt producing areas and then sell it in the areas designated by the state. This method makes the government easy. It seems that salt merchants have a great degree of freedom, but in fact, they are under the control of the government, and salt is completely in the hands of the government.

After the Western Han Dynasty, in fact, the government did not control salt from time to time. For example, in the 128 years of Sui Dynasty and early Tang Dynasty, the government did not control salt and exempt salt tax. Although to a certain extent, it reduced the tax revenue of the state, but increased the wealth of the people. This phenomenon ended after the Anshi rebellion, because the tax revenue brought by salt accounted for an unimaginable proportion of the total national assets.

In the Mid Tang Dynasty, half of the states fiscal revenue came from salt; in the Song Dynasty, two-thirds of the countrys revenue came from salt; in the Yuan Dynasty, it was even more terrifying, with eight tenths of the countrys income coming from salt industry; even in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, half of the countrys wealth came from salt; all dynasties strengthened the control over the salt industry u3002

Crack down on illegal salt

For the governments of all dynasties, what really bothered them was not how to manage official salt, but how to crack down on private salt. Private salt, as its name implies, is salt that has not been produced and sold by the government, and it does not pay any taxes, which is completely out of the control of the government.

This is not only a great threat to the governments rule, but also reduces the governments revenue. Therefore, all dynasties hated the phenomenon of illegal salt.

The price of official salt was high and the quality was poor. Because the salt was controlled by the government in ancient times, the quality problem was not considered when mining and manufacturing. For example, during the reign of emperor Renzong of Song Dynasty in the Northern Song Dynasty, officials wrote in a memorial that salt was mixed with sand during transportation, which was bitter and could not be eaten. This shows how poor the quality of salt was at that time.

However, private salt is different. Private salt is generally pure white and inexpensive. Due to the lack of a tax revenue from the government, the price is much cheaper.

Salt profiteering, there are always some outlaws in all dynasties, good money people regardless of their lives. First of all, salt production cost is low, and the price is high. The profit margin in the middle is very large, and the market is wide. People are willing to pay for it.

Under such circumstances, naturally, some people are willing to take risks against the government and make huge profits from it. Moreover, these salt smugglers not only earn money, but also organize their own armed forces in order to fight against the government. Finally, they even developed into rebel forces.

At the end of the Tang Dynasty, most of the uprising forces were smugglers of salt. Huang Chao and Wang Xianzhi, the famous leaders of the peasant uprising army, accumulated strength by selling illegal salt. Huang Chao even led the uprising army into Changan for a time.

And the founders of the Five Dynasties and ten states were mostly salt peddlers, such as Wang Jian, the former king of Shu and Qian Miao, king of Wu and Yue. The peasant uprising leaders such as Zhang Shicheng and Fang Guozhen who rose up at the end of the Yuan Dynasty were all salt Lords.

Salt is not allowed to be sold across the border, which was originally a policy put forward by the ancient government in order to crack down on private salt. However, it led to the emergence of private salt to a certain extent. Although there are many salt resources in China, their distribution is extremely uneven.

Since the Tang and Song Dynasties, in order to ensure the income of official sales, salt circulation was strictly controlled by the government, and salt sales areas were strictly divided, and the policy of marketing boundaries was implemented. Salt sales in different production areas were limited to a certain region, which could not be exceeded. For example, Guangnan salt can not be sold in the vicinity of Qianzhou, because it is from the distant Huai salt sales area.

This kind of artificial regulation makes it difficult for some areas with backward transportation to buy and sell salt. In order to survive, selling private salt has become the only way.

In ancient China, illegal salt trafficking was a very serious crime, almost equal to todays drug trafficking. During the Tang Dynasty, people were sentenced to death for selling illegal salt across the border. Selling more than one stone of salt and two inches of the spine of a stick. In the 4th year of Dahe, those who sold more than two stones were sentenced to death.

However, in the Five Dynasties and ten states period, as long as selling private salt, no matter how many death penalty. However, in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, no matter how many smugglers were, they were punished 100 times with sticks and sent to the army for three years, and the charges were aggravated according to different situations. It can be seen that salt was prescribed by law in all dynasties.

Salt in different production areas has different characteristics. Once the salt sold in a certain area is found to be different from the salt sold before, it can be basically determined as illegal salt, which is especially easy for the government to catch and control. These salt merchants have no way to cross-border sales, to a certain extent, prevent officials from profiting from it.

Some officials made huge profits from it, and some corrupt officials colluded with salt dealers to sell private salt to each other to obtain a lot of wealth. It is also because of the attraction of wealth that there will always be some people who will take risks. In addition, because the official salt is too expensive, some people can not buy it, so they have to go on the road of private salt.

The process of making private salt is very simple; there are many salt mines in China, so the government cant excavate every one of them. People can always find some salt mines, and the residents living in the seaside can even make salt by basking in the sea water. In this case, it is almost impossible to eliminate illegal salt.


Salt, as the money making machine of the ancient imperial court, not only can help the government to obtain a lot of wealth and stabilize the countrys rule, but also can help the government to manage non-governmental organizations to a certain extent, and control a large number of salt merchants in their own hands, to a certain extent, reduce the emergence of domestic rebellion, which is also an important reason for the rule of salt in all dynasties.

(function(){( window.slotbydup=window .slotbydup||[]).push({id:u5811557,container:ssp_ 5811557, async:true }This article is from the historical point of view. Responsible editor: Lin Qihui_ NB13068