Thursday, February 21, 2019
Numismatics – Gupta Coins
Introduction The score of run intos is interwoven with the history of mankind. To trace its story, whizz has to look back to the hostile past. When people settled in localities and the communities grew in size, the change over of products became a demand then the mutual exchange of things took the shape of trade and the system of trade was evolved. In course of time, certain commodities got preference over a nonher(prenominal)s and a high value was attached to them. They assumed the character of a medium of exchange and got a exemplification by which the value of other things was estimated.Thus emerged the notion of the unit of value. This was the first step towards the evolution of specieage. The reconstruction of ancient Indian history necessitates the importance of archeologic presents of a grumpy period. Amongst the motley archaeological sources the numismatical shows be of prime importance. Numismatics is generally known as the translate of old attains whic h be habitd for the reconstruction of ancient Indian history. The obtain of the Guptas in Indian history is a fascinating one. As a matter of fact, it saw a prosperous and plentiful spiritedness.Towards the beginning of the quaternary century A. D. , the dynasty of the Gupta emperors rose out of a small principality, situated some(a)place in Eastern Uttar Pradesh or Bihar and it lasted for more(prenominal)(prenominal) than two centuries. The founder of the dynasty was Sri Gupta. It was the virtually renowned, prosperous, ever reaching and self sufficient dynasty in ancient Indian history. This dynasty produced emperors of branch who not only expanded and consolidated the political power of India plainly alike administered excellent sparing and administrative techniques which led to happy well-disposed living during their triumph.As compared to the empire of the Mauryas, the Gupta empire was less(prenominal) extensive, but more enduring than that of the Mauryas. This period of the Guptas is known as the classical age of Indian history because this period witnessed the growth of arts and scientific disciplines in all the credible branches of learning. Al close all Gupta normals issued their own moves. The coins of the Gupta rulers are in truth useful for the reconstruction of their history. Features of the Gupta Coins The Gupta coins had certain remarkable touts which were originally an idea of the Guptas themselves.These features were more or less quasi(prenominal) throughout the rule of incompatible Gupta emperors. The coins are classified into 4 groups- Gupta bills coins Gupta smooth-spoken coins Gupta copper coins Gupta lead coins The Gupta emperor chiefly issued capital coins. They issued them in such a large number that a present-day(a) poet has rightly termed the phenomenon as _a reign of metallic_. The earlier gold coins of the Guptas were deeply functiond by the mintage of the later(prenominal) Kushanas. But the later Gup ta coinage show more superiority in their execution, and they are con alignrably original in their entitle.The influence of the Kushana coins on the before egest(predicate)(a) coins of the Guptas is recognisen especially in their dress and posture as fork outed on their coins. For e. g. the early coins of the Guptas show the standing(a) index at the altar. This is precise much similar in pose and posture of the world powers as shown of the Kushana coins. The king on these coins is hitchn habiliment the Kushana dour coating and trouser of the Kushana aim or replace by Indian dhoti and form was changed as the king is shown bare- bodied.The Guptas retained the method of placing the name of the king perpendicularly in Chinese fashion on the unexpended roll. They placed the circular Brahmi muniment nigh the king. On the reward side of the early coins of the Gupta rulers, Hellenic divinitydess Ardokshowas retained. Gradually, this pattern was changed, and Lakshmi, a n Indian goddess with a white lily in her fleet is depicted on the coin. On some coins she is shown seat on a throne and on some others seated on a white lotus. The archer persona coins of the Guptas are the near commonly issued coins by all the rulers of the Gupta dynasty.These coins generally show the king belongings a remit in his leftover travel by. Sometimes the king likewise holds an arrow in his right hand. Another remarkable feature of these coins was the use of significant symbols and accompaniments like trees, alters, tulsi plant, dwarf, garuda, deviates and arrows, animals like tiger, lion, cavalry, elephant, peacock butterfly, etc. These elements added more meaning to the coins and withal think overed the artistic approach of the Guptas. Another interesting feature was the re rawing and sub- variety found in each personasetters case of coin issued by the different emperors.Also the debasement of the ash gray metal was an interesting and innovative fea ture which reflected the development of science in this age. Also, the art of writing which is depicted by the apologues inscribed on these coins show that the literature of that period was at its greenback and Sanskrit was a well researched language. Thus, the use of Sanskrit and the art of calligraphy marked an key feature of the Gupta coins. Coins of Samudragupta Samudragupta ruled from 335 A. D to 380 A. D. The deed of conveyance Samudragupta meant that he was protected by the sea up to which his dominion extended.He was famous for his campaigns and conquests which earned him the title of _Indian Napoleon_. He expanded the Gupta Empire in all spheres from political, economical to ethnical aspects. Samudragupta inaugurated a new idea in the history of Indian numismatics. He issued as many as 8 different types of coins in minute gold. He learnt the technique of minting coins from the foreign rulers who brought the techniques with them and then he added his own notional sensi bilities and thereby evolved an indigenous pattern of coins which was acclaimed to be the best coins. shopworn suit It is the earliest and the most common type of the Gupta coins. On the obverse the king is shown standing. A halo can be seen around his head. The dress like coat and trousers recall the Kushana influence. He is in any case seen wearing a long, rope necklace and earrings. He holds a measurement in his left hand and sprinkles cense on the altar with his right hand. Besides the altar there is a garuda. The word Samudragupta is engraved on it along with a apologue in the innocence of the king.On the reverse, goddess Lakshmi is shown. She is seated on a throne, has ornaments and is seen property a cornucopia- a symbol of fertility and prosperity. Her feet rest on a lotus. The subtitle of Parakrama is inscribed on the reverse side of these coins. Chandragupta causa The name of these coins is Chandragupta type because on the come after we see Chandragupta I and his queen Kumaradevi. This type is withal called as Dynastic King and Queen display case. A halo is seen around the kings head. He is property a staff.On the left is the fable, Kumaradevi or Shrikumaradevi. On the reverse, goddess Durga is seated on a lion holding a cornucopia in her left hand and a lotus in the right hand. The fabrication is _licchavi_, it suggest of a special honour in which licchavi was placed by Samudragupta. He takes pride in his archive to proclaim Licchavi Dauhitra. Archer typewrite Coins of the Archer fictional character of Samudragupta are truly rare. They are frequently mistaken for the common Archer Type coins of Chandragupta II.From a study of their design, style, and fabric its apparent that these coins were struck during the early stages of Gupta Empire period the mint masters were still trying to refine the styling and design. King Samudragupta is shown as a young man on all of the coins of this type (as compared to coins of the Lyrist type wher e he is shown as an older person). These coins were most definitely struck during the early stage of his campaign to conquer majority of the neighbouring Kingdoms to unite them under a new unified Empire the start of what was to finally become the glorious Gupta Empire.On the pick up, the king is shown standing. He holds a bow in his left hand and an arrow in his right hand. A garuda standard is on his left. The reverse shows a seated Lakshmi. Battle Axe Type Usually, these coins are found in much worn condition. During Samudraguptas early reign, while he was conquering all of the kingdoms from the North to the South, East and West, this type of coin must have been a very popular form of advertising the Kings prowess and an excellent way to send a message to the unbeaten regions of the upcoming siege.The Allahabad Pillar Inscription does not contain the description of Samudragupta as Kritantaparasuh, Battle-axe of the God of Death, although the epithet is invariably applied to him in later official documents. This type obviously celebrates Samudraguptas many successful battles and showcases his legions might. In this coin type, he holds a battle axe in place of a standard with one hand and his other hand is usually on his waist. In place of an altar (as shown on the Standard Type), there is a dwarf holding a crescent-topped banner.The circular romance on the obverse is Kritanataparasur-jayatya jita rajajetajitah it describes the irresistible prowess of the emporer and states that Victorious is the conquerer of unconquered kings, himself invincible as a veritable battle-axe of the God of Death tiger Slayer Type At the height of his power, Samudragupta now starts living the Royal life and his coins depict his Royal Stature for the populace. This coin is very unique in its style for the first time in Indian history a coin shows a king as a brave and powerful king, cleanup spot the powerful Tiger.On the conserve the King is standing on the left, wearing ceremonial turban and dhoti, drawing his bow and aiming at an open mouthed tiger which rears up in front of him as he tramples on it, legend Vyaghraparakramah at right, crescent above lions head. On the reverse Raja Samudraguptah, in written report right, the goddess Ganga standing on the left, on an elephant-headed fish (makara), she holds a long-stemmed lotus in left hand, her empty right hand is outstretched and a crescent topped standard decked with ribbons is in field. The progressive change is seen on these coins with assure to the design, execution and content.There is no trace of foreign influence. Asvamedha Type The Asvamedha coins of Samudragupta are probably one of most stunningly executed coin designs in all of Indian numismatics. The Asvamedha ceremony or horse collapse was a way for Samudragupta to celebrate the victories of his conquests of Northern, Western and Southern India. These coins were probably turn over out as commemorative tokens during this hold cere mony and were probably not used as part of commerce. This may be the reason that Asvamedha coins discover 2000 years later are still in untroubled condition. This particular coin is a very rare variety of the Asvamedha type.The Queen is shown in the reverse as a fraught(p) Queen. On the observe, A beautiful rendition of the horse, level(p) to a yupa, the letter si (short for siddham). Horse standing on the platform vedi. Penons of cloth flying from the top of _the yupa over the horse. pecker Legend Rajadirajah pritvimavitva divam _jayatayahritavajimedhah (The King of Kings, who had performed the Vajimedha (Asvamedha) sacrifice, wins heaven after protecting (or conquering) the earth). On the reverse, Pregnant Queen (Queen Dattadevi) shown standing next to Yupa, holding a Chauri in hand and standing on a Lotus.Asvamedhaparakramah (One powerful enough to perform the Asvamedha Sacrifice). Lyrist Type On the observe, the king is shown sitting over a frame up tutelage a veena on hi s lap. He has only a waist cloth with big earrings and a necklace. The legend Mahadhiraja Sri Samudragupta is seen. The reverse of the coin depicts a goddess standing. Samudraguptas personal accpomplishments as a musician is fully confirmed in this coin. The goddess, therefore, must be Saraswati as she is the muse for music in Indian Mythology. The Tiger Slayer and Lyrist type are the best specimens of Samudraguptas coins with regard to his non- regal activities.With these coins, we can say that India had set her standard in the science of Art and Minting. Kacha Type On the observe, the king is shown standing, holding a standard which has a chakra on the top of it. He sprinkles incense on the altar. The legend reads, kacha after conquering the earth, conquers heaven by means of good deeds. On the reverse, goddess Lakshmi is shown standing. She holds both a lotus and a cornucopia. The legend reads, the eradicator of all kings. Coins of Chandragupta II Archer type This is the most co mmon type coin.The observe shows the king holding a bow and arrow, while he is offering incenses to the altar. Besides him there is a standard with a garuda on the top. The legend shows Chandra. The reverse side shows Lakshmi holding a lotus and a cornucopia. The legend reads Srivikramah. The archer type has 2 varieties, the throne reverse and the lotus reverse. Couch Type These types of coins are rarely found and issued in the early kings reign. On the observe, the king is seen seated on a couch, holding a lotus in one hand and resting the other on the couch. The king is wearing a waist cloth and jewelry and is completely Indianised.The legend reads Rupakriti and Vikramadityasya. The reverse side shows goddess Lakshmi seated on the couch with a lotus and a cornucopia in her hands with her feet on the footstool. The legend reads Srivikramah. These coins depict the kings success and prosperity and are an expression of his physical and cultural qualifications. Chhatra Type Lion Slaye r Type These coins represent a large variety of specimens. On the observe side of these coins, the king is dressed as a hunter, killing a lion. The legend reads, Narendrachandra Sinha Vikrmamah. On the reverse, goddess Durga is seated on a lion.It may be tell that Samudraguptas Tiger killer type signified his conquest of Bengal whereas Chandraguptas Lion slayer type signify his conquest of the Gujarat region. Silver Coins Chandragupta II was the first Gupta ruler to issue cash coins. After conquering the Ksatrapa kingdoms in western India, Chandragupta started topic specie coins which were very similar to the local money in the region the silver Ksatrapa coinage. The observe of these coins show the kings bust with the date of the Gupta era. On the reverse, the symbol of the Saka coins is replaced by the figure of the garuda.These silver coins are very rare and few in number. They are mostly found in the western region of his empire. Copper Coins Chandragupta II Vikramaditya w as once more the first to issue copper coins. Generally on these coins, the king is seen on the observe and the garuda on the reverse with variations in their figures. Evidence shows that there was as well a Chhatra type of copper coin. There were in all 9 types of copper coins. Copper coinage had not evolved to its maximum and they were withal very rare and hard to find. Thus, the innovations in the coinage of Chandragupta II Vikramaditya comprise of gold, silver as well as copper coins.This was a remarkable progress in the art of coinage. Coins of Kumaragupta I Kumaragupta I reined from 414 A. D to 455 A. D. Historical evidence shows that he was also called Sakraditya and Mahendraditya. The power and the glory of the Guptas were at its peak and succeed great heights under Kumaragupta. Besides other political, economical, social and administrative works, he is noted for the large number of coins he issued. The types and varieties of coins that he issued reflect the extent of the territory in which the coins were in circulation. He chiefly issued gold, silver and copper coins.A few types of coins issued by Kumaragupta I are as follows Archer type They were of different variety and types. The legends which appear on the observe are Kumara, Maharajadhiraja Sri Kumaraguptah, etc. While the reverse side bears a undivided legend, Sri Mahendrah. Swordsman type This was a type of innovation carried out by Kumaragupta I. The observe side of this new coin shows the king wearing a waist cloth and jewellery. He is seen casting incense on the altar with one hand and the other hand is on the sword that is tied at his waist.A garuda is seen on the left side and a legend is inscribed on it. The reverse side of this new type of coin shows goddess Lakshmi seated on a lotus. She is seen with a lotus in her hand and a garuda is shown along with a legend which is similar to the one on the observe. horse fancier Type The observe shows the king equitation a horse and it has a variety of legends. The reverse side shows the goddess Lakshmi seated on a wicker stool with a lotus with a long fore in her hand and there is a uniform legend, Agitamahendrah. This is consistent on all the varieties of this type.Lion Slayer Type The observe side shows the king wearing a waist cloth with a sash. He is also wearing jewellery. He is shooting a lion with a bow in one hand. The reverse side shows goddess Durga seated on a lion, holding a cornucopia and a lotus in her hands. The legend on the reverse is _Sri Mahendrasinhah or Sinha Mahendrah. _Varieties in this type are seen mainly in terms of legends which are differently attributed in excellent, flowery language. Tiger Slayer Type Like Samudragupta and Chandragupta II, Kumaragupta also issued both the tiger slayer and the lion slayer coins.They were similar to his predecessors but due to evolution of new techniques, skills and styles, these coins were more skilfully and meaningfully carved. On the observe we see the king wearing a head dress, waist cloth and jewellery and is shown in action of shooting a tiger. The bow is held in the right hand and the left hand is shown drawing the string of the bow. His right foot is shown trampling the tiger. The legend shown is Srimam Vyaghraybala parakramah the glorious king, whose strength and valour is like that of a tiger. The reverse shows goddess Durga in a standing position.She is holding a long stalked lotus in her left hand and is feeding a peacock some fruit with her right hand. The legend reads as Kumaraguptadhiraja. The most outstanding feature of this coin is that for the first time a peacock is has been used in a Gupta coin. This was a new trend started by Kumaragupta. Peacock / Kartikeya Type Elephant Rider Type The king is shown on the observe holding a goad in his right hand and is seen seated on an elephant. Behind him is an attendant holding an umbrella over him. The reverse shows goddess Lakshmi standing on a lotus flower and also hol ding a lotus in her left hand.Kumaraguptas gold coins were more skilful and refined. Though gold was the chief metal used, he all the same issued silver coins. Silver Coins Kumaragupta I issued silver coins in abundance. His silver coins are classified in 4 categories or classes with some varieties in each. The coins in the class I category was similar to Chandragupta II. The obverse had traces of corrupt Greek earn and a well executed garuda was shown on the reverse. In class II, one can see that the features of the Ksatrapas are done away with. Also the Greek letters from the obverse and the garuda from the reverse are omitted.Class III marked the return of Kushana features. The Greek letters are reframed and well executed and the garuda is seen with all body, no neck and prominent wings on the obverse. On the reverse a legend is inscribed. In the class IV coins all Ksatrapa features were omitted. The obverse was changed by eliminating Greek letters and replacing them with a Br ahmi date. A peacock that is the vehicle of the god Kartikeya of whom Kumaragupta was a devotee was shown. Later on class V of coins was introduced. They were silver plated and had a copper core. This lead to the debasement of silver. Copper Coins Coins of SkandaguptaSkandagupta, the son of Kumaragupta reigned from 455 A. D to 467 A. D. He was considered the sole hero of this dynasty. The Junagadh pillar inscription and the Bhitari pillar inscription gives us a detailed account near the life, succession, history and achievements of Skandagupta. Although the standard of coins decreased, the issuing of new coins did not. He issued different types of coins both in gold and silver. Archer Type On the observe, the king is seen holding a bow and arrow with a garuda to his right. The reverse shows goddess Lakshmi with a lotus with the legend Sri Skandagupta. This is the most common type of gold coin.King and Lakshmi Type On the observe he king is shown with a bow, arrow and a lady who is not the queen, but is goddess Lakshmi, with a garuda between them. On the reverse, again we can see goddess Lakshmi with a lotus in one hand. This type of coin is also called the King and Queen Type. Some historians say that they are somewhat similar to the Chandragupta type coins of Samudragupta, but this is not entirely true. Silver Coins Mainly 3 types Garuda, Bull and Archer type. Coins of other Gupta Emperors neology of the Guptas was at its peak during the reign of Samudragupta, Chandragupta II Vikramaditya, Kumaragupta I and Skandagupta.After these rulers, the Gupta coinage saw a down graph. After Skandagupta, Purugupta also issued gold coins of the Archer type. He also issued the Horseman type of coins. Kumaragupta II succeeded Purugupta. He took an active interest in issuing coins. He promoted minting of coins even during the lean days of the empire. Once again we see that his most commonly issued coins were of the Archer type. The reign of Buddhagupta is very important in the history of Gupta coinage because it is the rediscovery of the pride and prestige of the Gupta coinage after the unlit ages it went through. He issued rare silver coins.Though the coins of the later Guptas reflect the stock of the dynasty and the art of coinage, one can see evidently that each ruler tried his best to continue the tradition of issuing coins of confused types and forms. close A detailed study of the Gupta coinage reveals the outstanding features of the Gupta dynasty. The contribution of the Guptas to the field of coinage was remarkable and greatly appreciated. Though the art of coinage started very early, it reached its zenith in the classical age of the Guptas. The contribution of the gupta coins is of great help in the reconstruction of the history of ancient India.It not only serves as the numismatical evidence but also gives us an insight into the political, social, economic, cultural and religious life of that age. These coins give us knowledge about the v arious titles which were given to the various Gupta rulers, like, Vikramaditya, Maharajadhiraja, etc. Coins also reveal names of some unknown rulers. They also reveal the names of their queens, their sons and other family members. The coins also help us to condition the chronology and they give us dates and periods and other details. For example, Coins of Samudragupta give us exact dates of the various events that took place during his rule.The coins tell us about the territorial expansion of the empire. The economic advancement can also be gauged as per the number of gold coins found. These coins also throw some light on the dress, ornaments, furniture, weapons and general modus vivendi of that time. The tiger slayer and lion slayer type of coins tells us about the passion of hunting of the rulers. The horseman and elephant type of coins reveal the love for riding and the lyrist type shows us the musical side of Samudragupta. Gupta coins are finally canvass as pieces of art as th ey are the finest examples of Numismatic Art in India. raze though other dynasties issued coins they lacked the style and technique, skill and quality of the Guptas that are considered, so far, as the best Indian works in the field of coinage in Indian history. Hence, they are rightly quoted as the landmark in the field of ancient Indian coinage. Bibliography ?Samel, Elements of Archaeology, Museology & Library Sciences, Manan Prakashan, Mumbai, 2007 ? Parmeshwari Lal Gupta, Coins, National Book trust, India, 1969 ? A. S. Altekar, Coinage of the Gupta Empire, Numismatics Society of India, India.