2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

The Illicit Salt in the Southern Sung Dynasty

Ken-yao Liang

Department of History, National Taiwan University

This article studies the production, transportation, and sale of illicit salt in the Southern Sung dynasty. There are several problems discussed: (1) Where the illicit salt was come from; (2) Why the illicit salt had a ready market under the government’s salt monopoly; (3) How the illicit salt was transported and sold; (4) When illicit salt merchants became groups of bandits, how the stability of society was disturbed by their activities. In summary, although the sale of salt was under the government’s monopoly in the Southern Sung dynasty, but the effect of the control measures was not always good. The production, transportation, and sale of illicit salt was not only flourishing, but also became one important part of economic activities that could not be overlooked in some regions. The government was troubled by the rampant growth of illicit salt sales. Illicit salt merchants did not disappear by the suppression of the government, but however, strict prohibition was sometimes an important element that induced them grouped into bandits. When the government’s control was weak, illicit salt bandits rebelled against the government, and then, the conflict between them and government armies disturbed the stability of society.


Keywords: Southern Sung dynasty, salt monopoly, illicit salt, bandits, social turmoil