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Coins provide not only evidence of art and economy, but also a wisdom
for understanding the history and politics of a nation.
As a means of communication, they speak to the political and religious
ideologies that underpinned a ruler's or state's claim to power.
Coinage of India, issued by Imperial dynasties and smaller middle
kingdoms of India began during the 1st millennium BCE, and consisted
mainly of copper and silver coins in its initial stage.
Punch Marked Coins : The Indus valley civilisation of Mohenjo-Daro and
Harappa dates back between 2500 BC and 1750 BC. There, however, is no
consensus on whether the seals excavated from the sites were in fact coins.
The first documented coinage is deemed to start with 'Punch Marked' coins
issued between the 7th-6th century BC and 1st
century AD. These coins are
called 'punch-marked' coins because of their manufacturing technique. Mostly
made of silver, these bear symbols, each of which was punched on the coin with
a separate punch.
Issued initially by merchant Guilds and later by States, the coins
represented a trade currency belonging to a period of intensive trade
activity and urban development.
They are broadly classified into two periods : the first period
(attributed to the Janapadas or small local states) and the second
period (attributed to the Imperial Mauryan period). The motifs found
on these coins were mostly drawn from nature like the sun, various
animal motifs, trees, hills etc. and some were geometrical symbols.
The Kushan coins generally depicted iconographic forms drawn from
Greek, Mesopotamian, Zorastrian and Indian mythology. Siva,
Buddha and Kartikeya were the major Indian deities portrayed.
These coins carried the motifs of fauna like
elephants, lions, bulls, horses, etc. often
juxtaposed against motifs from nature like
hills, tree, etc
The term Western Kshatraps alludes to the set of rulers who ruled
Western India between the 1st
Century AD. The common
copper coins are the 'bull and hill' and the 'elephant and hill' types.
Gupta coinage (4th-6th
centuries AD) followed the
tradition of the Kushans,
depicting the king on the
obverse and a deity on the
reverse; the deities were
Indian and the legends were
Post Gupta coins
(6th-12th centuries AD), is
represented by a
Gold coins struck between
this period are rare.
South indian coins
The symbols and motifs on South Indian
coin issues were confined to dynastic
crests such as the boar (Chalukya), bull
(Pallava), tiger (Chola), fish (Pandya and
Alupas), bow and arrow (Cheras) and
lion (Hoysala) etc.
Coin legends refer to names or titles of
the issuer in local scripts and languages.
Coins of the Delhi Sultanate
Coins of the Khiljis
Silver Coin, Malwa
Coins of the Vijayanagar Empire
Pagoda, East India Company inspired by the coins of the
Technically, the Mughal period in India commenced in 1526 AD when Babur
defeated Ibrahim Lodhi, the Sultan of Delhi and ended in 1857 AD when the
British deposed and exiled Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal Emperor after
the great uprising. The later emperors after Shah Alam II were little more than
The most significant monetary contribution of the Mughals was to bring about
uniformity and consolidation of the system of coinage throughout the Empire. The
system lasted long after the Mughal Empire was effectively no more.
While the Marathas have had a long history, they came into the limelight in the seventeenth century
led by the charismatic leader Shivaji. The Maratha Confederacy consolidated itself after
Aurangzeb's death in 1707 AD.
As regards coinage, Shivaji first issued coins in 1664 AD when he assumed the title of Raja.
Coins were again issued to commemorate his coronation at Raigadh in 1674 AD. These coins are
rare. Maratha Mints and coinage were consolidated around the middle of the eighteenth century.
Three types of Rupees were in circulation during this period, viz., the Hali Sicca, the Ankushi
rupee which was the standard rupee of Pune, and the Chandori rupee which was on par with the
The monetary system
consisted of the gold
ashrafi, (half, quarter, eighth
and sixteenth of an
ashrafi), the silver rupee
with similar five
denominations and the
COINS OF AWADH
The gold coins carried the Hara-Gauri
motif and the King's name on the reverse.
The silver coins were in the Mughal
tradition, bearing the name of the Mughal
Emperor, Shah Alam II on the obverse
and the name of the mint on the reverse.
Some of the smaller fraction coins
carried the image of the deity Chamunda,
the family deity of the Wodeyar family
COINS OF MYSORE
Coins of Haider Ali
Coins of Tipu Sultan
Around 1777 AD, coins
were issued from Amritsar
without the name of the
Mughal Emperor and were
called 'Nanak Shahi'. These
coins bore the name of Guru
Gobind Singh, the tenth and
the last Guru of the Sikhs.
coins of hyderabad
The coins of the Nizams were issued in the name of the Mughal Emperor till
1858 when a coin legend was introduced with the name of the founder of the
state, Asaf Jha.
Thereafter, they were struck independently and the new coins were termed
the 'Hali Sicca', i.e., the current coins. In 1903-04 coins were machine
struck for the first time.
These coins featured the Charminar on the obverse with Persian inscription
Nizam-ul-mulk Bahadur Asaf Jah around it. The reverse carried the value.