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.

The Punch-Marked Coins of Ancient India

South Asia is the cradle of human civilization for a very long period of time. The river basins of north and north western India have experienced human occupation since 5000 BCE. These people did not live isolated. They engaged in trade and commerce with people from other regions such as Central Asia and Arabian Peninsula. The earliest trading activities were conducted through barter. But with the advent of more complex economic transactions the coins became the medium of commercial exchange.

The earliest reference to coins in the context of south Asia can be found in the Vedas. However, the archaeological findings suggested that the earliest instances of coin circulation in India can be traced back to 6th-5th century BCE. These earliest coins are known as the famous ‘punch-marked’ coins.

The punch-marked coins were mainly made of silver. There were copper punch-marked coins too. These coins are mostly of rectangular shape, occasionally square or round. These coins have been found in large numbers in various places of northern India ranging from the Taxila-Gandhara region of north western India to middle Ganges valley.

The process of making these coins was quite interesting. The coins were cut from large metal sheets. Sometimes metal globules were also flattened to shape them as coins. Next, the symbols were inscribed on the coins using dies or punches. These coins did not show any great artistic or aesthetic excellence in their appearance. This was because they were the earliest attempts of coin minting in India. There shapes were also mostly irregular, but they showed excellence in maintaining the weight standard of the coins. The majority of the punch-marked coins made of silver weighed about 56 grains or 32 rattis. The weight-system of the punch-marked coins as well as all the other ancient Indian coins was based on the red and black seeds of a particular variety of tree called Abrus precatorius. The weight of these seeds was known as the rattis. The uniformity of the weight system was one of the main reasons behind the long usage of these coins over a vast area of South Asia.

These coins did not bear any inscriptions on them. Instead they carried symbols of geometric designs; natural bodies such as sun, moon, mountains; depictions of different animals and plants, etc. Some of them also carried human figures. These punch marks are not properly inscribed in all the coins and some of them have become illegible by now. The significance of all these symbols inscribed on the coins could not be ascertained by the numismatists with certainty.  They may have some political or religious importance.

The coins of this variety which were circulated in northern India were categorized into four main series by the numismatists. They divided the coins in different series based on their weight, the nature of the symbols inscribed, and their area of circulation. In the distant hilly terrains of Taxila-Gandhara, the punch-marked coins were a little heavier and carry a single symbol. In the Kosala region of middle Ganges valley, the coins were also of heavy weight nature but came with multiple punch-marked symbols. In the Avanti region of western India light weight single punch-marked coins were in use. Magadha, a powerful state in eastern India issued their own punch marked coins with a light weight standard carrying multiple symbols. With the political ascendancy of Magadha in the 3rd and 2nd century BCE, the Magadhan punch-marked coins became the most circulated coins in South Asia. It also shows the importance of studying the numismatic trends in grasping a proper understanding of ancient Indian history.

The Coins of Muhammad Bin Tughlaq

Muhammad Bin Tughlaq was one of the most interesting personalities of Medieval Indian history. He ruled from 1324 to 1351 AD. Muhammad Bin Tughlaq was interested in Persian poetry, mathematics, medicine, and astronomy and was also noted a philosopher.  He was well-versed in the religious topics and fluent in both Arabic and Persian. From the beginning of his kingship, the countrymen had a huge expectation from him. He took some very bold and strong measures to reform the Sultani administration at the advent of his rule.

He took great steps in revenue reformation. He decided to shift his capital from Delhi to Devagiri, which is now known as Daulatabad. Daulatabad is situated in Central India. Though controversial, Muhammad Bin Tughlaq showed a great sense of pragmatism in this decision. He not only saved his capital from the Mongol raids but also ensured the proper administrative rule in both the northern and southern part of the India.

His rule is also significant for the introduction of token currency.  He understood the importance of currency as a medium of commercial exchange and that is why he took keen interest to circulate gold and silver coins. The gold coin was introduced as Dinar. Tughlaq’s silver coin was named Adl.  However, it was difficult to maintain the supply of gold and silver coins on a large scale. So, Tughlaq replaced those coins and started the circulation of copper and brass coins as the token currency which had the same value of gold or silver coins in 1330-32 CE. He was well aware that the state had to act as a responsible guarantor for the token money by ensuring high degree of security which will prevent others from making fake currencies.

But the administrators failed in maintaining the security measures. These coins totally lacked the artistic design and perfection in finishing and even the administrators of the king took no measure to keep the design secured and protected.  In fact, the coins just had some inscriptions and no royal seals. These loopholes make them easier to copy. Thus, ordinary people easily copied the design and started making coins in their house. Soon the entire market was flooding with the fake coins. The ordinary people started to pay the state revenue with their home made coins and this caused a great problem for the state treasury. Within a very short period of time the state treasury was full of fake coins. Historians have argued that the value of the coins decreased for such wholesale forgery and it became worthless like the stones.

As a result, the trade and commercial activities were heavily disrupted. Muhammad Bin Tughlaq was forced to take back all the token currency. He had to exchange them with old gold or silver coins. Thousands of people exchanged their copper coins with silver tankas or gold dinars and the state treasury faced a huge loss. However, the detected forged coins were not exchanged. In 1333 CE, the use of the token coins was stopped. Ibn Batuta, the famous medieval traveler who came to Delhi in 1334 CE wrote an account of contemporary India which had no mention of these token currencies.

Muhammad became very much unpopular among his subjects for his failed administrative reform policies. Soon one by one his provinces started to revolt. He was not able to suppress all those revolts; thus, creating much chaos and confusion everywhere. His failed and ruthless experiments with government policies made him famous in the history textbooks as the “Mad Sultan” of India.

Coins of Independent India

The year 1947 is considered as the most important year in the history of modern South Asia. This year witnessed the departure of the British from South Asia and the emergence of two nation states replacing the British Raj- India and Pakistan. Before independence, the Indian economy was completely dominated by the British. The coins and currency notes circulated in India also carried the image and the seal of the British monarch. However, with the coming of the independence the situation changed. The Indian economy came under the control of the Indian people. The Government of India replaced the authority of the British royalty and started circulating coins and currency notes bearing symbols reflecting indigenous tradition and culture.

India, though gained its independence in 1947, issued its first coins in the year of 1950. The first series of Indian coins were released on the occasion of the 3rd anniversary of Indian independence on 15th August, 1950. These coins replaced the image of the British monarch which was inscribed on the coins of the earlier regime. Instead, the image of the Sarnath capital of Mauryan emperor Asoka was inscribed on the obverse of the coins. The obverse also carried the inscription ‘the Government of India’. The reverse carried the image of a wheat plant. The denomination of the coin was also inscribed on the reverse. The Roman script was used for this purpose. These coins were made of an alloy of copper and nickel. Coins were issued in both Rupee and Pice denomination.

A major step was taken by the Indian government in 1957 in a view to reform the monetary system. The prevalent system of dividing a Rupee in 64 Pices was replaced by the decimal system. From 1957, the Rupee was to be divided into 100 Pices. 1 Pice became the smallest unit of Indian monetary system. The earlier denominations of .5 Pice or .25 Pice became obsolete. The new Pice came to be known as “naya Paise” or the new Pice. In these new Pices the ‘Government of India’ inscription was also shortened into simple ‘India’. It was a very important change. This change contributed in a large amount in modernizing the Indian monetary system, and in turn, the Indian economy. Only some beggars complained about this change as they had to meet only 64 people earlier to gather a Rupee. Now, they had to meet 100!

From 1964 onwards, coins of various denominations were being issued made of Aluminum-Magnesium alloy. The increasing cost of issuing Cupro-Nickel coins was the main reason behind this decision. This year also saw the issuing of the first series of memorial coins in India. The first memorial coins were dedicated to the first prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. Till then, the government had issued coins in memory of several other leading public figures too. Most important among them is the father of the Indian nation, Mahatma Gandhi.

In 1968, a 10 Pice coin was issued by the Government of India made of an alloy of Aluminum-Bronze. These coins were of golden color. It led many illiterate and semi-literate people in India to believe that these coins were made of gold. They collected these coins in large numbers and melt them in search of gold. The government stopped the issuing of these coins to control the mass hysteria; and started issuing another series of coins in October, 1971 made of Aluminum-Magnesium alloy.

In 2010, the Government of India selected a design by D. Udaya Kumar as the official sign of the Indian currency. This sign is now used by all the government organizations, financial institutions, etc. to denote Rupee.

A Short History of Indian Coins

The earliest references to coins in the Indian context have been found in the Vedas. Though Vedas are primarily religious texts, they are not solely concerned about Yoga, spirituality or after-life. Rather there are numerous references to ‘nishka’ and ‘nishka-griva’ which are believed to be earliest specimens of Indian coinage.

Another breakthrough in the Indian coinage can be traced back to 6th century BCE. Several small states emerged in the northern India during this period. The trading activities grew rapidly. We came across several terms such as the nishka, karshapana, shatamana, vimshatika which were coins of different weight and value. Interestingly, the weight-system of the coins was based on the red and black seeds of a particular variety of tree called Abrus precatorius. The coins of this age were mainly made of silver and copper. They are known among the numismatists as punch-marked coins. Punch-marked coins did not show any great instance of artistic expertise.

But the coins of the next age which was circulated in India were destined to be the best examples of artistic expertise. They were issued by the Indo-Greek kings of north western India. These coins were found in large numbers in various places of modern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. These coins are significant because they carry detail information about the issuing monarch, the year of issue and sometimes even an image of the reigning king. Coins were mainly made of silver, copper, nickel and lead.

The reign of the Gupta dynasty is described by some historians and scholars as the ‘Golden age’ age. And this is quite evident from their coins. Numismatists have found number of gold coins of this dynasty. These coins are also rich in details of their issuing authority. The gold coins of the Guptas were known as dinaras. The writings on these coins were in Sanskrit. These coins depicted the reigning monarch in different poses.

Apart from the coins another major medium of exchange xxx in the early Indian market was the cowrie shell. Cowrie shells were used in large numbers by the ordinary masses for small scale economic transactions. It is said that the cowrie shells carried definite value in the market just as the coins.

With the fall of the Gupta dynasty in mid-6th century CE there was a marked decline in commercial activities in Northern India. This period is also significant in the history of Indian coinage because the decline of monetary system. The decline of coinage can be noted in their number, their appearance, and value.

However, the situation changed with the invasion of the Turks in 11th and 12th century CE. Vast areas of northern India came under the rule of the Sultans. Trade and commerce with West Asia was again flourishing. The various dynasties of the Delhi sultans issued silver and copper coins. The inscriptions on the coins were mainly in Perso-Arabic script. Interestingly the coins did not bear any image of the issuing monarch. The reason was the prohibition of idolatry in Islam.

Muhammad binTughlaq, one of the sultans of 14th century was famous for his monetary reforms. He circulated bronze and copper coins and token paper currency. However, his measures failed miserably as his subjects resorted to wholesome forgery of the currency notes. Ultimately he had to withdraw the currency notes.

The Great Moguls of 16th and 17th century issued coins closely resembling other Central Asian dynasties. Sher Shah, a ruler for a very short period of time in the mid-16th century was a bitter enemy of the Mughals. He is also remembered for his introduction of a kind of silver coin namely rupee. Interestingly, in India money is still known as rupiya.

The Moguls were succeeded by the East India Company’s colonial rule. The Company rule brought the monetary system of India in direct connection with the global economic system. However, the name of the Indian currency continued to be rupee under the Company rule.