Coins of Later Mughals

The 18th century in Indian history is full of political turmoil. On the one hand, it witnessed the slow downfall of the great Mughals and the emergence of several regional powers all over the subcontinent; on the other hand it also saw the emergence of another powerful empire- the British Empire under the East India Company. The death of Aurangzeb in 1707 CE marked the starting point of the decline of the Mughal Empire. However, Mughals continued to rule nominally up to 1856 CE. They were regarded by all the regional powers as well as the Company to be the sole source of sovereignty in the whole of South Asia. Coins were still struck in their name and Friday prayers or Khutba were still read in their names in the mosques all over India. We will look at some of those 18th century Mughal coins and the various interesting facts associated with them.

Since the second decade of the 18th century, the centralized Mughal state faced increasing difficulties in resource mobilization. Their main source of income was the land revenue collected from the provinces. With the weakening of the Mughal centre, the revenue supply from the provinces became irregular. This is also evident in the later Mughal coinage.

Gold and silver coins were continued to be issued in the name of the Mughal Padshah from Delhi. But their value and number was declining.

Farrukhsiyar who ruled as the Mughal emperor from 1713 to 1719 issued Gold Mohurs and silver rupees from both Delhi ( also known as Shahjahanabad after the great Mughal Shahjahan) and Itawa which is situated in modern Uttar Pradesh. The gold Mohurs of Farrukhsiyar weighed around 10.90 gm and recorded the name and reigning year of the Padshah on the obverse and reverse respectively. The dates were recorded in Al Hijri following the Mughal Islamic tradition.

A silver rupee of Ahmed Shah Bahadur (r. 1748-1754) was issued from Khambayat or Cambay, a port town on the western coast of India known for its considerable importance in maritime trade. This coin was issued in 1748 (1161 AH) and weighed around 11.50 gm. The style and decoration of the coin followed the usual Mughal style of inscribing the name and the regnal year of the emperor in beautiful ornamental calligraphy.

Shah jahan III (1759-60 CE) was a titular ruler but issued a silver coin from Delhi. These coins are particularly interesting for the numismatists for their strange source of silver. At that point of time, the Mughal emperor was in a difficult position facing the advancing Afghans. The Marathas from the south India marched towards Delhi to help the Mughal emperor. The Maratha general Sadashiv Rau Bhao reached Delhi to help the Emperor but he was short in cash which was essential to meet the expenses of the massive campaign against the Afghans. To solve this problem, he ordered the silver linings to be stripped off from the ceiling of the Diwan I Khaas and coins to be struck using that video porno gratis. Diwan I Khaas is a hall situated in the Red Fort, Delhi which was used by the Mughal Emperor for private audiences. Around 900,000 Rupee coins were issued using that silver.

Ancient Chinese Currencies

China, the Asian super-giant is marking its presence in every sphere of global politics, economics, sports, culture and several other fields for some decades. However, China was a resourceful country in the past too. The ancient and mediaeval Chinese Empires known as the Middle Kingdom in their history was no less influential in ancient polity. In those days, India, China, and Turkey dominated the global politics and European powers were mostly marginalized. The tide changed only with the Great divergence in Europe in the 17th and 18th century. We will discuss here some of the interesting facts about Chinese currency systems in ancient and mediaeval age when China was in its full glory.

Chinese issued the first recorded instances of banknotes back in 2nd century BCE. The notes were made of white deerskin and measured approximately 1 sq. foot each. It was also the Chinese who introduced the paper currency in the world of trade and commerce. The first instance of issuing a paper currency is from 9th century CE China.

The main medium of exchange for the ancient Chinese was copper coins. Almost all the dynasties issued copper coins of various shapes and sizes. The shape of some of these coins was very unusual. They included coins issued in the shape of knives and spades. The spade shaped coins were first used in the early part of the Han dynasty, and the design was later imitated by several other dynasties in the subsequent years.

Along with the notes and the coins, several other forms of currency were also used extensively in the rural areas. These included the extensive use of cowry shells by a large number of ordinary Chinese. Cowry shells were first used in China as a medium of exchange in the 3rd millennium BCE. To counter the limited number of natural cowry shells, artificial cowry shells made of bone, bronze, and even stone were issued on many occasions. Cowry shells made of bronze can be considered as bronze coins. They were issued during the “Warring States” of porno mexicano period (475-221 BCE). These coins had some strange figures inscribed on them such as the face of a monster or an ant.

Gold coins were also not rare in ancient China. The first dynasty to issue gold coins was the Chu dynasty. These gold coins carried the inscription “Ying Cheng”; where Ying denoted the capital of the Chu state and Cheng was the monetary unit. The coins were round in shape and contained a square hole in the middle.

Coins with such holes in the middle were abundant in ancient China. The Ban Liang coins which became the legal tender of the united China in 3rd century BCE had similar square holes in the middle. However, some of the coins carried round holes in the middle instead of square holes.

All these coins were minted following the indigenous Chinese technology. It was only in the late-19th century that the Chinese state introduced minting in a western style. They brought some minting machines from Britain and cast some copper and silver coins from the mint of Guangzhou.

Interesting Facts about Ancient Roman Coins

The Roman Empire lasted over a period of about five centuries. Besides keeping back a number of historic wars and other important political events, Rome experienced great economic prosperity under various Emperors. This is evident from the variety of coins they issued throughout the lifespan of the Empire. We have gathered some important facts about the coins of Ancient Rome which you should know.

  1. Roman coins were issued in all the three principal metals- bronze, gold and silver.
  2. These coins were of various sizes. These coins were valued on the basis of their weight. The earliest of the Roman coins discovered was made of bronze and it was issued around 269 BC.
  3. These coins were minted in over 40 different cities. The name of the mint in Rome was Juno Monet and it is from here, that the term ‘money’ came into being.
  4. Similarly, the term ‘coin’ came from the word ‘consecratio’ which was issued by the Emperor in order to pay homage or tribute to their deceased family members.
  5. The ancient Roman gold coins were called Aurei which contained about 95% of pure gold. The silver coins were called Denarius, which consisted of 85% silver.
  6. The copper coins were known as As which was stamped on one side carrying the image of the beak of a ship. Two types of silver coins were Denarius Sestertius and Denarius Victoriatus. Some other notable silver coins were Smebella, Teruncius and Libella. Libella has the same value as that of the As. The principal gold coin was Aureus Denarius.
  7. Roman coins bear the name of the issuing emperor. We find a lot of emperors issuing coins in their names. Some of the famous emperors were Constantine, Marcus Antonius, Septimius Severus. Some of the Roman coins also included women in the impressions. These were of Antonia, Valeria Messalina, Cleopatra Selene and also many of the daughters of the ancient Roman leaders.
  8. At first, the portraits of Pagan Gods and Goddesses were used by the Romans in their coins. This idea was copied from the Greeks. Later on, they started to put impressions of buildings on the coins. Symbols like stars and eagles were also used in the coins. In order to make an emperor popular, the images of the kings were also used in the coins.
  9. Rome was one of the most powerful political as well as economic powers of the ancient world. Romans had trading connections with ancient India, Iran, Mediterranean world and northern Africa. Thus, in the archaeological excavations a large number of Roman coins have been unearthed from various parts of the aforementioned areas.
  10. The ancient Roman coins are prized possessions for the modern collectors. Thus, a large number of forged coins are circulated in the market. You can only differentiate between a fake and real ancient Roman coin with the help of a test kit. Some of the important fake symbols of the coins include incorrect marks of the mint, wrong lettering on the coins and variation on the thickness in the coins. You can also detect the fake coins from the original one collected from a reliable source.

The Coins of Sher Shah Suri

Jahiruddin Babur defeated the last of the Sultans of Delhi in the Battle of Panipat I in 1526 CE and founded the rule of the Moguls in India. But their position in India was precarious owing to the strong presence of different other video porno all over India including the Rajputs and the Afghans of Bihar. Sher Shah Suri, one such warlord of Afghan descent from Bihar, proved to be the most formidable of them. He defeated Humayun, the Mogul emperor, in 1540 CE and established the rule of the Sur dynasty in Delhi. Sher Shah is regarded as one of the most talented rulers in the history of India. The impact of his administrative, economic, and military reforms were so far reaching that they were imitated even by the Moguls who restored their rule in Delhi after the untimely death of Sher Shah in 1545 CE.

Sher Shah was a petty warlord before he ascended to the throne of Delhi. But even in his limited capacity, he issued some silver and copper coins. However, they are not of much significance.

The important phase started when he occupied the throne of Delhi after defeating Humayun in several battles. Sher Shah issued coins in silver and copper. The silver coins were known as Rupiya which is still used in India as a general term for money. The copper coins in which the large numbers of transactions were made by the masses were known as Paisa. The term Paisa is also used in present day India as a term for money of lower denominations. However, issues in gold are not yet known from the reign of the Sur rulers.

The Rupiya of Sher Shah can be used as a rich source of historical facts. The obverse of these silver coins is inscribed with the Islamic Kalima- La ilah-il-illah Muhammad ur Rasool Allah (meaning There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah). The obverse also carried the name of the first four holy Khalifas- Abu Bakr, Umar, Usman, and Ali. These inscriptions showed the devotion of the Sur rulers to the cause of Islam. But, by no means, they were bigots. The tolerant nature of the rule of the Sur rulers is evident from various other facts. The obverse of the coins is marked by the full name of the ruler Farid ud Dunia wa din abu al-Muzaffar Sher Shah Sultan, the pious wish “Khald Allah Mulk” (meaning may Allah perpetuate his kingdom), the name of the issuing mint and the year of issue. Some of the Rupiya coins are also marked by a Devanagari inscription which read as follows- Sri SerSahi, indicating them as issues of Sher Shah. Mints were situated all over the realm. Some of the major mints issuing Rupiya coins were Chunar, Agra, Panduah, Delhi, Bhakkar, Kanauj, and Gwalior. Besides these mints, coins were also issued from the camp mints of the Emperor. These issues carried the word- Jahanpanah instead of the name of the issuing mint. The silver coins weigh around 180 grains and became the standard weight throughout most of India and continued to be the standard under later Mughal rulers.

The copper coins or the Paisa of Sher Shah were issued from different mints such as Gwalior, Narnol, Kalpi, Delhi, Hissar, Chunar, etc. The weight standard of the copper coins was, however, not uniform. Some of the Paisa coins issued from Narnol mint weigh around 328-9 grains while the issues from Chunar weigh 304 grains. Most of the copper coins carried the following inscription on obverse- fi ahad al-amir al-hami which means “in the time of commander of the faithful, the protector of the Religion”. The reverse carried the name of the ruler, the issuing year and the name of the mint.

The Coins of Menander

Menander was a king of the Indo-Greek line who ruled in the north western India during the Mid-2nd century BCE. King Menander is the most famous of the Indo-Greek kings due to a number of reasons although the exact date of his reign and realm could not be ascertained. First and foremost among them is various stories about his patronage of Buddhism recorded in the various Buddhist religious books. One such famous book is Milindapanha which is actually a conversation between the king and the Buddhist sage Nagasena about different philosophical problems. Apart from the literary sources, Menander is also famous for his coins which are found in large numbers in various parts of northern and western India.

Menander was quite popular among his subjects as has been evidenced by the writings of several contemporary chroniclers including Plutarch. His reign saw the growing trade between India and Europe via west Asia. To facilitate trade and commerce Menander issued a large number of coins. These coins were struck in the well established Indo-Greek fashion with elaborate details. Menander was also influenced by the Indian tradition and accommodated the Indian cultural and social elements in his coins. The silver coins of Menander were known as Drachms.

The coins of Menander carried legends in both Greek and Kharosthi. The legends on his coins read the following: ‘Maharaja Tratarasa Menadrasa’. The earlier silver coins of Menander carried a portrait of goddess Athena on the obverse and the figure of an owl on the reverse.

In the later issues of Menander, the coins also carried the portrait of the king on the obverse. The reverse of these later coins carried the figure of Athena Alkidemos throwing a thunderbolt. After this, Athena Alkidemos became the royal standard emblem of several other Indo-Greek kings and rulers.

These above mentioned silver coins of Menander were very light weight. They weigh a little more than 1 gram to a little less than 2.5 gram.

Another series of Menander’s coins were struck in Attic weight standard carrying the portrait of King Menander wearing a helmet and depicting him as throwing a spear in the obverse. The reverse depicted the portrait of goddess Athena. The legend of these coins read ‘Of King Menander, the Saviour’. These coins weighed 13.03 gram each. Probably, these coins were special issues to mark some significant event during the King’s reign. But in our present state of historical knowledge it is not possible to find out the exact reasons or events for the issue of these coins.

There were also a number of bronze coins recovered of Menander. These Bronze coins were of relatively inferior value. But they are important for different reason. These bronze coins of Menander carried the images of several deities of both Greek and Indian pantheon.

The coins of Menander are a rich source of Indian socio-economic as well as political history. The number of Menander’s coins found was greater than any other Indo-Greek rulers. They have been found in widely varied geographical regions such as modern day Afghanistan, Indian state of Kashmir, Punjab, and Gujarat. Even centuries after the conclusion of Menander’s reign, his coins were in much use among the traders of Gujarat. This is evident from the narrative of the ancient text, ‘Periplus of the Erythraean Sea’ where the unknown author of the stated that coins of Menander were largely used in the trading activities in the great port of Barigaza or modern day Broach situated in the Gujarat coast by the traders hailing from different regions.

The Kushana Coins

The Kushanas established their rule over a vast area of northern India and central Asia during the 1st century C.E. Many significant rulers of early India belonged to this dynasty including Kujula Kadphises, Kanishka, etc. The Kushanas originally belonged to the Yu-Chih tribe. They took the advantage of political instability in the region of northern India during the 1st century C.E. and established their dominance. The empire of the Kushanas experienced much prosperity due to the trading activities of the merchants. They carried out their trade mainly in silk with the Roman Empire. Their commercial activities generated huge amount of wealth; part of which find its way into the Kushana treasury. The prosperity of the Kushana Empire is well reflected in their coins.

The first two Kushana kings, Kujula and Vima issued gold coins. Archaeologists and Numismatists have also found their copper coins. The Kushana coins are excellent examples of artistic excellence and sophistication. The coins were die-struck and produced in large numbers to facilitate growing trade and commerce. They resembled a great similarity to the earlier Indo-Greek coins as these coins also depicted the portrait of the issuing monarch in a great detail. The Kushanas also closely followed the Indo-Greek weight standard in minting their coins. Some of the coins of Vima Kadphises were minted following the Roman aureus. The early gold coins of the Kushanas weigh around 8 gm. We have also some specimens of silver coins issued by Vima. The silver coins were mainly circulated in the area of lower Indus region.

Another main characteristic of the Kushana coins are the depiction of various deities on the reverse of the coins. Various Greek, Iranian, Bactrian and Indian deities were featured in the Kushana coins. We found the Indo-Iranian deities like Mazda, Mao, Athsho, etc. inscribed on the coins of the Kushanas. This is significant because it showed the syncretism nurtured by the Kushana rulers.

Another significant example of the syncretism of the Kushanas is evident from their issue of bilingual coins. The obverse of the coins carries Greek inscriptions and the reverse Kharosthi inscriptions using the Prakrit language which was the lingua franca of northern India during the early centuries of Christian era.

The greatest of the Kushana rulers is Kanishka I. He expanded the Kushana rule to many far flung areas of central and eastern India. He also reformed the currency system and issued new variety of coins. The martial character of the king is well depicted in the coins. He can be seen carrying a spear in his left hand in many of the coins. The Greek and Indian gods and goddesses continued to feature in the Kushana coins. The prominence of the Indian god Shiva in the coins of Kanishka and later Kushanas is regarded by numismatists as a proof of their conversion to Saivism in later days. Buddhism also had a profound effect on the Kushanas. It is well documented in the archaeological remains. Buddha is also represented in various forms in their coins. Buddha is regarded as Boddo and Sakamano Boddo in these coins. These corroborate the literary texts which described the great patronage provided by Kanishka to Buddhism. Kanishka is still much revered as one of the greatest patrons of Buddhism. However, the policies of issuing bilingual coins were discontinued in favor of Greek or Bactrian legends.

The later Kushana rulers such as Vasudeva, Huvishka, etc. continued to issue highly sophisticated gold coins. The portrait of Huvishka in the coins is highly appreciated for its artistic excellence and exact depiction of the.

Due to the abundance of the gold coins of the Kushanas, they are considered as the worthy predecessors of the Guptas by some scholars.

The coins of Shah Jahan

Shihabuddin Muhammad Shah Jahan Badshah Gazi was the fifth Mughal ruler. He ruled from 1628 C.E. to 1658 C.E. The reign of Shah Jahan is considered by the historians as the most glorious period of the Mughal rule in India. Shah jahan was a great admirer of artistic excellence. The world famous monument Taj Mahal was a creation of this emperor. But at the same time he was a devout Muslim. So, he was against any form of idolatry. Thus, in his we see a great amount of artistic work without depicting any living being which was prevalent in the coins issued by his father and predecessor Jahangir.

After his coronation as the Mughal Badshah, Shah Jahan immediately banned the Zodiac coins issued by Jahangir. The Zodiac coin carried figures of humans as well as animals which was considered by Shah Jahan as un-Islamic.  He also announced death penalty for those found using these coins. All the Zodiac coins were brought from the market and melted. After this, Shah Jahan issued new coins in his name. In course of time, the Zodiac coins issued by Jahangir became one of the rarest coins of India and a much valued possession of the modern numismatists in India.

The new coins issued by Shah Jahan were no less elegant. Coins were issued in gold, silver and copper as well. They were in various shapes such as round, square, and octagonal. Kalima or Islamic religious messages were introduced in the inscriptions of the coins in accordance with the orthodox Islamic belief of the emperor. The Kalimas were inscribed on the obverse. The name of the issuing mint was also inscribed on the obverse. Some famous places where Mughal mints were situated were Agra, Thatta, Surat, etc. The reverse carried the name and the full title of the emperor. The coins were marked with the Hijri date on the obverse which was prevalent among the Islamic dynasties. Apart from the regular coins of gold, silver and copper; Shah Jahan issued special silver coins called Nisar to present them to his favorites and notables. The Nisar can be regarded more as a medallion than a proper coin but it was designed and regarded as a coin.

As idolatry was prohibited according to the religion, the emperor took the refuge of calligraphy to design his coins. The religious messages, the name and title of the emperor- all were inscribed on the small space of the coin in a very beautiful manner and with great precision. The excellence of Persian calligraphy mesmerized the audiences till date.

However, the end of Shah Jahan’s reign was not a happy one. After Shah Jahan fell ill, his four sons engaged in a fratricidal civil war for the throne. Aurangzeb Alamgir emerged victorious in this struggle. He promptly imprisoned his father and declared himself the new emperor. He also started issuing coins in his name as the mark of a sovereign emperor. Aurangzeb was a more orthodox Muslim than his father. The Islamic orthodoxy of Aurangzeb is a different story need not to be narrated here in detail. What is important for us is the story of his redesigning of the Mughal coins according to a more orthodox Islamic fashion. He removed the Kalima from his coins. He feared that whenever such a coin bearing the kalmia fell in the hand of a non-Muslim or Kafir it became polluted which is not desirable in Islam. Apart from this, his coins were more or less the of his father’s.

The Indo-Greek Coins

South Asia, and more precisely the modern state of India has experienced the incursion of several tribes throughout its history. Many of the famous military generals of the world had made their mark in the territories of South Asia. The Greek military genius Alexander also attacked north western India albeit without much success. The invasion of Alexander took place in the year of 326 BCE. However, he succeeded in establishing several Greek colonies. He left some of his military generals and soldiers to occupy and rule his Indian and Central Asian conquests. These Greek generals came to be known as Indo-Greeks in the history. They ruled roughly during the period between mid-3rd century BCE when Diodotus I established an independent kingdom to early 1st century BCE when they were overwhelmed by the Parthians and the Shakas.

Their rule extended over a vast part of central Asia and north western South Asia. It included the modern areas of Afghanistan, north western part of Pakistan, the Indian provinces of Kashmir and Punjab. There were several dynasties and over 40 rulers of the Indo-Greek lineage who ruled over this extended time period. And surprisingly the main sources of information about the rule of these numerous kings are the numismatic evidences.

The Indo-Greek coins inaugurated a new phase in the history of South Asian coinage. These coins carried elaborate details about their issuing authority. The name, the issuing year of the coin and a portrait of the reigning monarch was die-struck very precisely on the metal pieces.

We can identify elaborate measures of coin circulation in the Indo-Greek territory. The coins circulated in the north of the Hindu Kush Mountains were mainly made of gold, silver, copper and nickel. They were struck according to Attic weight standard. The obverse of the coins carried the portrait of the issuing monarch. The reverse of the coin was marked by the depiction of Greek gods and goddesses. The name of the monarch and his royal titles were also mentioned in the reverse in Greek.

The coins which were circulated in the south of the Hindu Kush bear more Indian touch. They were mostly made of silver and copper. Most of these coins are of round shape, while some of them are square. These coins were struck according to Indian weight standard. They bear the royal portrait on the obverse. But their reverse was marked by Indian religious symbols rather than Greek. These type of coins also carried bilingual and bi-script inscriptions using the Greek and Prakrit languages; and Greek and Kharosthi or Brahmi porn scripts.

The Indo-Greek coins have been found in large numbers in the modern Afghanistan. The largest number of coins was discovered from Gardez. This hoard is known as the Mir Zakah hoard. It yielded 13,083 coins. Among these large number of coins 2,757 were Indo-Greek coins. Other major finds are the hoard found at Khisht Tepe near Qunduz and the coins found during excavations at the city of Ai-Khanoum.

The Indo-Greek coins are very important source of ancient Indian history. Out of 42 Indo-Greek kings who ruled, about 34 kings are known only through their coins. Coins of such kings as Menander depicted them slowly progressing from their teenage to old age, which also indicated their long reigns. The high standard of coinage set by the Indo-Greeks worked as a model for several other Indian dynasties for a very long period of time. The representation of Indian religious figures and symbols in the Indo-Greek coins has a greater significance for the cultural history of South Asia. This illustrated the syncretism of the Indo-Greek rulers. A sort of cultural and religious fusion between India and Greece can be traced from these coins.