Valuable – literally! – the exhibition was presented to the public by the National Bank (NB) of the republic. There was no shortage of those who wanted to learn about the history of the Kyrgyz currency. Young people were especially curious. The guys literally bombarded the guides with questions about what paper and where the som is printed on, what degrees of protection it had, when a 20 som coin would appear and many others. There were also some tricky ones: is it hard to fake catfish and how many such cases have been identified?
“They not only told us about the modern national currency, but also gave us a short digression into history,” Nurzat Ishimova, a ninth-grader of one of the Bishkek schools, shared her impressions with the RG correspondent. – The Great Silk Road passed through the territory of Kyrgyzstan, which means that trade with different countries flourished. I can imagine how camel caravans loaded with goods once walked through our city. It turns out that one of the first and most common coins in those ancient times was the turgesh, round pieces made of silver, copper or some other metal with holes inside. They were tied to ropes and worn around the neck. Then the money of tsarist Russia appeared, then Soviet rubles appeared, and now Kyrgyzstan has its own currency unit – soms.
By the way, according to the National Bank of the Kyrgyz Republic, the som was officially introduced into the territory of the republic at four o’clock in the morning on May 10, 1993. Kyrgyzstan became the first of the Central Asian republics to have their own means of payment. The exchange rate was fixed immediately: one som was equal to two hundred rubles, and one dollar could be bought for four soms.
– In 1993, my first salary was only 28 soms, – said one of the visitors to the exhibition Zhibek Kurutova. – They gave me a blue 20 som bill and eight new red 1 som bills. They looked so strange and unusual back then. It even seemed to me that the money was printed on ordinary thick paper. And in circulation there were banknotes of small denominations. The red ones cost 1 tyiyn, the green ones 10 tyiyn and the blue ones 50 tyiyn By the way, I still have several of these at home. Many then reacted to the new money with some skepticism and even called it candy wrappers. Russian rubles were still in use and there was more confidence in them. The attitude towards the som changed when the banknotes of the next series appeared.
In 2023, in honor of the anniversary of the national currency, the National Bank of the Kyrgyz Republic will issue a new, fifth consecutive series of banknotes in denominations of 200, 500 and 1000 soms. On the obverse of the banknotes are portraits of representatives of art and culture, and on the reverse side are views of Kyrgyzstan.