Nuruddin Jahangir, the fourth Mughal Emperor’s reign (1605-27 CE) is remarkable in the history of India as a glorious period in the fields of art and culture, economy and trade, as well as political matters. He was the worthy successor of the Great Mughal Akbar as well as the able predecessor of another great Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan who built the Taj Mahal. The economic prosperity during the reign of Jahangir is well evident from the coins he issued. They are one of the best examples of Indian numismatics in terms of sophistication, artistic design and value.
The coins issued by Jahangir before the sixth regnal year is generally considered as his early issues. Here we will concentrate on his later issues, i.e., coins issued after the sixth year of his reign to the end of his reign.
Jahangir continued to issue gold, silver, and bronze coins. The obverse of the coins carries the inscription- Nuruddin Jahangir Shah Akbar Shah. The reverse is marked by the name of the issuing mint, the name of the Persian month, the regnal year of the Emperor and the year in the Hijri era. Though there were little variations over the year and some special issues, these remained the main issues of Jahangir until his 19th regnal year. The special coins included a gold coin issued in a limited number between sixth and ninth regnal years carrying the portrait of the Emperor on the obverse. Some of these coins had a lion inscribed on the obverse. The Emperor is seen as either holding a cup or a rose.
The thirteenth regnal year of Jahangir is remarkable for the issue of the Zodiac coins. Jahangir replaced the name of the Persian months with the Zodiac signs denoting that particular month according to the Persian tradition. These coins are specially revered for their artistic execution.
Jahangir married a beautiful woman, Mehr-un-Nissa in 1611. The new queen is known as Nur Jahan or the light of the world in the Indian history. She is one of the best known figures among the Mughal elites. Nur Jahan, owing to her personality, gradually became the dominant figure in the royal court. She started influencing the state polities to a large extent. After some years of their marriage, the realm was virtually under the control of Nur Jahan. Jahangir became totally dependent on the Empress. And this fact is marked in the field of numismatic too.
By the nineteenth regnal year of Jahangir, there were coins issued which carried the following inscription in Persian-
“Zi Hukm Shah Jahangir zewar
Ba-nam Nurjahan Badshah Begum zar.”
The meaning of this couplet is, By order of Shah Jahangir gold attained a hundred beauties when the name of Nurjahan Badshah Begum was placed on it. This was completely an unprecedented event in the history of the Mughals; and, obviously a rare moment in the history of overtly male dominated Turko-Islamic stae polity. These coins in the name of the Empress were issued from the mints situated all over the Indian subcontinent including Lahore, Allahabad, Ahmadabad, Patna, Surat, Kashmir, Akbarnagar, and Agra.
Apart from the gold coins, there were also silver and bronze coins issued under the reign of Jahangir. They were mainly used by the common people for day to day transactions of small scale. They were relatively simple in style. They carried the name of the issuing Emperor on the obverse and the name of the issuing mint and the year on the reverse.