Thu, Feb 17, 2011 - Page 15 News List

Temple hands out red envelopes with 100 trillion Zimbabwe dollar notes
五結天公生 百兆辛巴威幣當紅包

Yang Pi-tsun, chairman of the Jhihtian Temple in Yilan County, displays Zimbabwean 100 trillion dollar banknotes before placing them in red envelopes on Feb. 8.


Have you ever seen a 100 trillion dollar gift money red envelope? Jhihtian Temple in Yilan County’s Wujie Township recently held an event last Thursday in which participants cast divination blocks. Anyone who got three positive results from the gods was given a red envelope containing 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollars.

The temple authorities prepared 100 red envelopes to give away at the event.

The ninth day of the first month in the lunar calendar is the birthday of the Jade Emperor, the supreme divinity in Chinese mythology. Jhihtian Temple, which honors the Jade Emperor, planned a series of events to mark the day. When a friend of temple committee chairman Yang Pi-tsun gave him the 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollar banknotes, he was taken aback and said “What? 100 trillion?” He decided to put 100 of the banknotes in red envelopes as gifts for people who came to the temple to cast divination blocks. Some devotees were surprised at the sight of 14 zeros on a single banknote, saying that this was the first time they had ever seen a banknote with such a big denomination. The highest-denomination banknote in Taiwan is NT$2,000.

So what are 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollars worth in New Taiwan dollars? Those in the know say they are pro-bably worth only a couple of dozen dollars in Taiwanese currency. Yang says that Zimbabwe has very high inflation, and the value of its currency is adjusted several times a day. He knows people who collect currencies from all over the world, and they say that a 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollar banknote is traded at no more than NT$300.

Yang says that giving out 100 trillion dollar banknotes on the 100th year of the Republic of China symbolizes that everything will go smoothly in the centenary year.


1. divination n.

占卜 (zhan1 bu3)

例: Gypsies use tealeaves for divination, and Turkish people use coffee grounds.


2. taken aback v. phr.

驚訝 (jing1 ya4)

例: Sarah was taken aback, but secretly pleased, when Ronnie said he loved her.


3. drastically adv.

大幅地 (da4 fu2 di5)

例: Thanks to detente, military spending has fallen drastically.


Zimbabwe’s economy isn’t performing well, and the country often issues new currency. Four versions of the currency have been issued since the country gained formal independence in 1980. These 100 trillion dollar banknotes come from the third currency issue, which was popular when it was first issued. But the Zimbabwean dollar depreciated drastically and was soon worth no more than a piece of wallpaper. Zimbabwean civil servants prefer to receive their salaries in US dollars. It is said that no one would even bother to pick a Zimbabwean dollar banknote up from the ground, and piles of the money have been sold as waste paper for recycling.

Foreign tourists in Zimbabwe often take Zimbabwean money home as a souvenir, or sell it online for a bit of extra cash. Apparently some grownups in Taiwan used to give these banknotes to children as gift money, but when the children saw so many zeros on the notes, they rejected them, thinking they were just toy money.










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