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Today the piggy banks have become a source to teach our kids about the significance of savings and make them aware of financial literacy in their own way. Many kids love this coin bank, shaped like a pig. But Why are they shaped like pigs? Why there is no other animal? Where did the concept of piggy bank really come from?

Earlier people commonly stored their money at home as there weren't any formal banking institutions. People used to keep their money in lockers or in common kitchen jars. The aged known money box dates from 2nd century B.C., found in a Greek colony Priene in Asia Minor, and shows the shape of a little Greek temple with a hole in the box. Also, the first true pig-shaped money bank with a slot in the top for depositing coins were made in Java as far back as the 14th century. Unbroken Javanese piggy banks are very rare. In Great Britain, a 650-year old Majapahit terracotta piggy bank was offered for sale at £6,000.00. In Majapahit piggy bank of 15th century, the animal depicted is technically not a pig but the Javanese celeng, a small, black-skinned wild boar. Some theories also suggest this design was exported from Indonesia to Europe.

A very prominent proof of the ancestry of piggy banks occurs during the middle ages when metal was very costly and rarely used element for any household work. And many other utensils like dishes and pots were made of an orange-coloured clay called ‘pygg’. Whenever families could save some extra coins, they dropped it into one of their clay jars, a pygg pot. Vowels in early English had distinct pronunciations than they do today. During the time of the disruptions of the word, pygg would have been pronounced “pug”. But as the pronunciation of “y” changed from a “u” to an “I”, pygg ultimately came to be pronounced as “pig”. Perhaps coincidentally, the Old English word for pigs (farm animal) was “picga”, with the word evolving into “pigge”, possibly because of the fact that the animals rolled around in pygg (clay/mud). Over the next two hundred to three hundred years, as the English language matured, the clay (pygg) and the animal (pigge) came to be pronounced the same, and people slowly forgot that pygg once referred to the pottery, jars and cups of past. So, in the 19th century, when English potters received requests for piggy banks, they started producing banks shaped like pigs.

So that the mystery of the word “pig” is solved, but what about the word “bank” associated with “pig”. In preceding years, the word “bank” initially meant as a “bench”. When a transaction of the money started in Northern Italy, lenders did business in open markets, working over a table. These banks were set up in main courts by men who both switched and lent money. Their benches would be loaded with currencies from the numerous traders of distinct countries. The Italian word for bench or counter is “banco” from which the English word “bank” is derived and that's how piggies got their banks. But early models of piggy banks had no gap in the tail, so the pig had to be broken to get money out. Some people say that’s where we get the expression “breaking the bank,” but a few serious scholars disagree to this.
(Source - Wikipedia)

Presently in some European countries, it is a tradition to give piggy banks as gifts because pigs are assigned with luck and good fortune. At New Years, “Lucky Pigs” are still exchanged as gifts. In Japan, the Maneki Neko, or money cat, is often placed in the home to help bring good luck and are often used as a kind of piggy bank, too, holding change and money for the family. So, from the 2nd century to this day, the colours and features of piggy banks have modified entirely, but piggy banks are still a valuable tool to save money, at least for our kids.