Tiger Tally

Warring States Period, 475BC - 221BC
Shaanxi History Museum, Xi'an

Made of bronze with inlaid gold characters, objects like this were used to verify the authority of the bearer. They were split into two halves; a king, for example, would keep one half, and give the other half to his general. When the king wanted to give an order to the general, he would send a messenger with the matching half of the tally. This enabled the general to verify the authority of the messenger.