The Early Issues of Jahangir

Nuruddin Jahangir, the son of Akbar, was the fourth Mughal Emperor. Akbar died in the year 1605 CE after a long and glorious rule of almost half a century. Jahangir was the worthy successor of Akbar. His reign was also marked by prosperity and thriving economy. One the one hand, agriculture was experiencing one of the most glorious periods. On the other hand, the maritime trade and commerce with European countries was flourishing. The Portuguese, the British, and the Dutch- all were competing with each other to gain more profit from the Indian trade. The ruling Mughal elite class was the main beneficiary of this prosperous economic condition. The flourishing state of the economy is well reflected in the coins of the successive Mughal rulers from Akbar to Aurangzeb. Jahangir’s reign and his issues of coins are also testimonies of this phenomenon.

The coins issued after the sixth regnal year of Jahangir were somewhat different in appearance and thus, we will limit our discussion here to the early issues of Jahangir.

Jahangir’s formal coronation took place some months after the death of Akbar in the year 1606. Between the death of Akbar and the coronation of Jahangir, the mint of Agra continued to issue gold coins in the name of Akbar and marking his regnal year. But at the same time these coins also announced the coming of a new Emperor by inscribing the following words, “By the stamp of Emperor Akbar gold becomes bright; this gold is still brighter with the name of the king Nur, i.e., Nuruddin Jahangir”. Some of these gold coins also carry the portrait of the late Emperor Akbar. However, the silver and bronze coins of this period were issued under the name of Prince Salim, i.e., the new Emperor Jahangir’s actual name.

After the coronation ceremony, Jahangir took some major steps in reforming the Mughal monetary system. The weight of both the gold and silver coins was increased. The new weight of a gold coin became 202 grains and new silver coins weighed 212 grains. In his 4th regnal year, the weight of the coins was again increased. This time the increase was by 5 percent. However, the masses face immense problems in using these heavyweight coins in daily transactions. So, the emperor ordered the devaluation of the coins in his 6th regnal year. The devalued gold coins weighed 170 grains and silver coins 178 grains. This weight standard was maintained throughout the reign of Jahangir.

The coins of Jahangir especially the gold and silver ones are remarkable for their artistic value and sophistication besides their monetary value. Amir-ul-Umra Sharif Khan, a courtier of Jahangir, composed a couplet to be inscribed on the coins. The couplet is in Persian and the English translation read thus, “May the face of money shine with the hue of the sun and the moon. Shah Nuruddin Jahangir, the son of Akbar Badshah”. However, all the coins did not carry this inscription and some simply carry the name of the Badshah on the obverse and the Islamic Kalima on the reverse. The year of the issue was also inscribed on the coins- both in the Hijri era and the regnal year of Jahangir.

Unlike Akbar, the coins of Jahangir were issued from a fewer places. The major mints were all situated in the great Mughal cities- Agra, Delhi, Ajmer, Burhanpur, Ahmadabad, etc. These major mints issued coins of all three metals i.e. in gold, silver, and bronze. There were other smaller mints too in places such as Patna, Lahore, Thatta, Allahabad, Surat, etc. These mints issued coins in either of the three metals.

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