a.There are many new theories about the origin of coins and definition of  the function of money . Few of them from the web sites are linked to the  this page  for reference.

b.The many statements  in the ancient literature  of  Sri lanka of  numismatists interest will be considered here  in addition to those already quoted by HW Codrington The large  collection of the recently published  Coin  like objects which has been  evaluated too will be added here.


Three strong theories have been suggested for the origin of coinage: Religious; Commercial; and Tyrannic. www.coin-newbies.Com/articles/origin.html by Michael E. Marotta

The religious theory says that coins were first stamped in temples. Another theory is that since money facilitates commerce, it seems likely that merchants were the first to strike coins. Finally, historians know that coins came at the same time that tyrants replaced hereditary kings, therefore it seems possible that coins were invented as a tool of these ambitious men.

In Sri Lanka too Lost or dropped coin are dug up or picked up mainly at sites around religious sites. The true significance of this may be that these religious monasteries, as in other countries may have served many purposes. The monasteries were a place of learning or Pirivanas,  remains of hospitals for man and beast is discovered at most monasteries , these were on the main trade routes. These is epigraphical evidence that Money and goods  were deposited at these monasteries by individuals, and their interest accrued were used as expenditure for temple. The Monasteries had safe deposit boxes and security personnel[ Epigraphical evidence]. Many coin mould have been found at monastic sites.

One striking fact about Sri Lankan Coins is that most Marks that are placed on coins which were use in India from the time as early  as the Indus Civilisation, Sri Lanka mint-master adopted these with  Buddhist themes to arouse  the mind -set of  ancient Sinhalese.

  1. Origins of Money and of Banking  projects.exeter.ac.uk/RDavies/arian/origins.htmlCached –

All sorts of things have been used as money at different times in different places. The alphabetical list below, taken from page 27 of A History of Money by Glyn Davies, includes but a minute proportion of the enormous variety of primitive moneys, and none of the modern forms.

Amber, beads, cowries, drums, eggs, feathers, gongs, hoes, ivory, jade, kettles, leather, mats, nails, oxen, pigs, quartz, rice, salt, thimbles, umiacs, vodka, wampum, yarns, and zappozats (decorated axes).

Specific functions (mostly micro-economic)

  • Unit of account (abstract)
  • Common measure of value (abstract)
  • Medium of exchange (concrete)
  • Means of payment (concrete)
  • Standard for deferred payments (abstract)
  • Store of value (concrete)

General functions (mostly macro-economic and abstract)

  • Liquid asset
  • Framework of the market allocative system (prices)
  • A causative factor in the economy
  • Controller of the economy

Is there any sources of evidence in ancient literature/inscription that satisfy any of these functions?.

The History of Money and the origin of Coinage – Ancient Coins

http://www.clickacoin.com/Cached – Similar

The Island has a long History

14,00o BC – Evidence of planting of barley at Horton Plains.

12,000 BC. Excavation of Shiran Deraniyagala, Raj Somadeva etc reinforce the existence of man before Vijaya, as mentioned in the Chronicles. The earliest evidence of any object which may have been used as a means of exchange is the Sea Cowries and perforated Sea shells and salt , found at a 12,000 year old human habitation at Kitulgala [ Pre- History of Ceylon- Pt II – SU Deraniyagala]. Kutulgala is over 69 miles from the sea. There is reason to believe that they were obviously of some value to be carried this distance by those living by the sea , they may have very well be a possibility that they traded these  in exchange with  a tribe living as hunters and food gatherers at Kitulgala.

3000 BC.The next is at Gedige Anuradhapura where a mini production site of stone tools , again discovered by SU Deraniyagala. These may have very well be exchanged for any other item.

1500-1200 BC .Since then many ancient sites such as Ranchamadama, Haldumulla etc dating back to around 1200 BC. This is some time after the Indus Civilizationa disappeared.


According to Buddhist literature this was the period of the Buddha’s before Gautama Buddha from the time of Vippassi Buddha. According to Mahapadana suttra Atuvava there were five Types of money[ Rev Meda-Uyangoda Vimalakirthi Sthaira.

The first of the Type is the Golden Bricks.This has not been found in the Island.The closest item to money is form of Dried or Fired Clay of this period is those tablet of Babylonia, that were used in some forms of money.


Dr Paranvitane is his stepping Stones in the migration of Indus Script to Easter Island.

“The observations made by GR Hunter on these small pieces of steatite are worth questioning here.’ They are not seals,nor inscriptions, but are lightly insiced for direct reading, as is clear from the direction of the writing which is from right to left with a few exceptions. These documents are peculiar in shape, they are as a rule, either rectangular or lozenger shaped, several, however are written on three faced prisms,and one or two faced slabs of peculiar shape.  The fact that this class of documents is almost invariably accompanied by a numeral followed by the object enumerated that it is written and not stamped, on a not0rial of special format evidently prepared for the purpose, which seems to suggest that here we have a class of business documents. A documents suggest a Promissory Note….”

The second is the Plates of Gold in shape of Plough heads.

No finds,

The third type is Impression of Elephants Feet.No finds,

A few Clay objects found during excavations published by  Dr Raj Somadeva.

A few Clay objects found during excavations in the South Sri Lanka,published by Dr Raj Somadeva.

The Fourth type is with impression of the Tortoise on Gold flan, perhaps similar to th ancient coins of Greece. None of  type have been found in Sri Lanka. But Objects in the shape of Tortoises and with impression of it has been found at Tissamaharama.

Fifth Type is Salakkana Swarna Kahapana. The salakkana may mean Marked with symbols. Rev Wimalakirthi is of opinion that these the Nila Kahapanas of the time of Gautoma the Buddha.The Nila sound he interprets as Pure or Official. That may mean tested for purity of metals and for weight. Since these coins may have been produced by individuals, they have to be confirmed for circulations by examiners of Coins[ Ancient  Rupa Adhaka   ] by placing of official marks. The coins were one part gold, one part silver and the rest was the five metals [ Paslo]. Only a rare gold kahapanas has been found so far with marks.

Coins and Currency of Ceylon-HW CODRINGTON –




Para 1. Sources from Mahavansa etc.

The main sources of information for the period beginning with the settlement of the Sinhalese in Ceylon and ending with the rise of Polonnaruwa are the Mahavamsa chronicle with its continuation, and the Tika or commentary thereon, supplemented by a few inscriptions and the commentaries of Buddhaghosa. The Mahavamsa proper was written by monk Mahanama in the reign of Dhatusena, AD.  509-527 based on, earlier material, the only survivor of which is the Dipavamsa composed at the close of the fourth century. The Tika dates from a much later, but its author had before him ancient documents now lost.

The first part of the Mahavansa deals with the history of Buddhism in India, For this period kahapanas are mentioned in the account of the Vesali heretics (Cap. IV, 13) and in the Tika on cap V, 17, where Canakya afterward a minister of Candragupta is said to have re-coined each kahapana into eight, and thereby to have amassed eighty kotis of kahapanas.

Chapter IV ,Verse 13-“Bestow on the brotherhood Kahapanas,half,the Masaka, the Masaka Rupa…”. This was during the period of King Kalasoka, the coins of Kalasoka’s period  Silver Kahapanas is found in Si Lanka.

Candagupta Silver  Kahapana coins are found in Sri Lanka , these are debased where 4 parts of 16 is copper.

In Ceylon from the reign of the first king Vijaya onwards money is mentioned usually by Numbers only, e.g ”a thousand “[ a gift or pooja given to his first queen Kuveni, perhaps as alimony, when she was asked to leave him , ” Twice  a hundred thousand”  is the value of the Pearls sent as an annual tribute to his father i law of his second Queen , kahapanas being understood[ Codrington].

Authentic history may be said to begin with the reign of Devenampiya-Tissa, BC. 307-267 (G.247-297); money is conspicuous by its absence in the lengthy account of his. various works. Kahapanas first appear by name in cap. XX verse 26 in which it is recorded as an act of munificence that the Tamil king Elara spent 15, 000 kahapanas to replace fifteen stones of the Stupa on Cetiyapabbata or Mihintale, accidentally broken by his chariot.

His Sinhalese conqueror Dutugemunu,. BC.161-137 (G 101-77), rewarded the archer Phussadeva with a heap of kahapanas large enough to bury his arrow set upright up right in the ground (cap. XXV, 99, 100), and the designer of the Ruvanveli Dagoba with a pair of garments worth a thousand and ornamented shoes and twelve thousand kahapanas” (cap XX 14). As wages for the workmen employed on the Brazen Palace, he deposited 800,000 of gold Hi-rannas at each of the four gates, and for those on the Ruvanveli Dagoba 1,600,000 at each doorway (cap. XXVII, 21; XXX 18) .The Tika commenting on the first of these two passages explains that the amount was 100,000 hirannas, each reckoned eight kahapanas, and this may be a genuinely ancient tradition.

The amounts spent by this king seem fabulous[a CASE STUDY – on the prevailing economic condition in the 2 Cent BC based on factors mentioned in ancient texts to verify this statement]; thus, 19 kotis [A Koti is Ten time Hundred Thousand- Dipavansa Chapter 3 verse 11] were expended on the Mirisvatiya 30 kotis on the Brazen Palace, and 1,000 kotis on the Ruvanveli Dagoba. Such large sums in money are incredible, and if there be no exaggeration must represent the estimated value of the work done. These figures was read out to him from his Book of Merit at his death bed. Perhaps these large amounts were perhaps the Budget for the period of his reign during the building of these monuments. Of his reign of 24 years is divided in the Mahawansa 10 years to build the Mirisavetiya and the Brazen Palace and 14 years for the Maha-stupa. Is we are speculate this, then his average annual Budget for the first 10 years was 4,900,000 Silver pieces and during the last 14 years it increased to an average of 71,000,000 Silver  pieces. The Mahawansa states that the on his 14 year just before building the Maha-stupa a Trader in Ginger , traveling by Ox-cart brought the news of veins of Silver at Ridi-vihare at Kurunegala, this was in additions to Gold Nuggets  found to the North -East of Anuradhapura from the size of a Span to  Angula[ Inch].Seventy one Million silver pieces @ 3.5 grams per piece is little less than 250,000 Kgs of silver per year. Compare this with the monthly pay of the regular Roman army was 180,000 kgs of silver Denari.

A few Domestic Transactions in 2 Cent BC

Sahasavathuprakranaya as ancient text relates two financial transactions .

  •  During the period of King Kavantissa the father of Dutugemunu the famous General Nandamitta had purchased Venison spending 2 Kahavanus.
  • During the period of King Sadatissa[137-119 BC] a purchase of a Cow for the cost of 8 kahavanus

Such is certainly the explanation of the one koti of treasure, the value of the restored Brazen Palace completed by Jethatissa, A, D. 267-277 (G, 315-325), and of the nine lakhs spent on the festival in honour of the Tooth Relic held by Meghavanna II A.D. 3.04-332 (G.352-379) (chp. XXXVI, 125 ; XXXVII).

The gift of a ” thousand ” by King Dhatusena for a dipika on the Dipavamsa, in all probability our Mahavamsa (cap, XXXVIII, 59), is the last mention of money until the reign of Jetthatissa , .AD 623-4.

Inscriptions etc

The earliest name or value of money is on a Pre BC inscription at Manpita Vihare in Kegalle district of a donation of two Kahavanas by a officer in charge of canals and a kahapana by a Lapidary. These tradesmen has access to these coins. It can be inferred that  coins were called Rupa or Rupia is inscriptions of a Rupadaka  perhaps a   Mint-master of coins or Rupavapara a dealer of coins mentioned in Inscriptions of the same period. This confirms the definition of coins found in the Buddhist Pali Text translated from Sinhalese in the 5 Cent AD at Anuradhapura that it may be any pieces of METAL OR ANY OTHER MATERIALS WITH OR WITHOUT MARKS[ Rupa] RAISED ON THEM.1205

1205 TransalationRupa2. The inscriptions often record private gifts to the Community, and the sums specified are rarely great except in the case of royal donations ; the largest is of a hundred thousand kahavanas (Pali kahapanas ) spent by King Vasabha, AD. 66-110 (G. 124-168), The word may, perhaps, be supposed that it also had the secondary meaning of ” money “. It is found in inscriptions of every century from the first after Christ until those assigned to the fifth-seventh centuries, and re-appears in the Mahavamsa (cap. LIII, 29) in the tenth century ; it may, therefore, be assumed that the use of the name was continuous, though it was doubtless applied to more than one coin in its long history. Only two varieties of kahavanas are mentioned in the inscriptions, namely, the mala kahavana in the fourth, and the dama kahavana in the fifth century ; these are discussed below.

A symbol for Kahapanas

A symbol, consisting of a square divided by two cross lines, occasionally with a dot in each of the four compartments so formed, occurs in the inscriptions from the second to the fourth or fifth century.

Though in some instances standing alone, it usually accompanies the word kahavana, either closely or separated from it by a sentence or more. In some cases it is followed by symbols, which seem to be numerals, as in the Vilevewa inscription[ see below], where the number of kahavanas is also given in words, and in that at Ottapahuwa, where though there is no mention of kahavanas, it probably represents the cost of construction of the refectory and courtyard, the subject matter of the record (Ancient Ceylon, p. 657, and figure 153), This symbol is supposed by Mr. Parker to be of magical significance ; Mr. H. C. P. Bell, late Archeological Commissioner of Ceylon, however, has suggested that it may denote the standard by which the value or weight of the karshapana was reckoned, i.e., by padas or quarters (A. S., Seventh Progress Report, p. 44). This is a possible explanation, the symbol perhaps, being an attempt to represent the eldling.

Commentaries -Buddhaghosa etc

3. We next come to the Commentaries associated with the name of Buddhaghosa, who compiled his works in Ceylon in the reign of Mahanama, A.D, 412-434 (G.458-480). The passages which deal with money are based on two groups of texts in the Vinaya, (1) the one defining the amount, theft of which involves expulsion from the community ( paraajikaI), and (2) the other forbidding the receipt of or trafficking with gold and silver.

Kahapanas/Massa/Rupia -Terms for money

(L) Parajika,-Dealing with a case of theft of timber by a disciple, Buddha asked an old monk, formerly minister under the King of Magadha, for what amount stolen a thief would be sentenced to corporal punishment imprisonment, or banishment. The monk replied ” For a pada (quarter), or property wortht a pada. ” ” Now at that time at Rajagaha five masakas were a pada”. Buddha thereupon laid down that theft of this value and above involved expulsion from the Community. Twenty masakas, therefore, were then equal to one kahapana Buddhaghosa explain s that the pada or quarter is to be calculated on the ” ancient faultless kahapana”‘ and not on the Rudradamaka and such like kahapanas.

(2) Precept against receiving and trafficking with gold and silver jatarupa rajatam. The ancient scholium embodied in the Vinaya text explains jatarupa by satthuvanna ” colour of the Teacher, and rajata as meaning the kahapana and the base metal, wooden, or lacquer masaka ” which are current, ” and includes both jatarupa [ Coined or marked Gold] and rujata under the common term rupiya. Buddhaghosha- explains jatarupa as a name of gold ( suvanna) in the same way, and includes under rupiya chank shells, coral, silver, and gold, following the Patimokkha, while by rajata are meant kahapanas and other current money. He adds that the kahapana is of gold’ or silver, or the ” common -one, sc. of copper, and gives at length details of the base metal, wooden, and lacquer masaka.This commentary is repeated almost word for word in Sariputta’s Palimuttaka Vinaya Viniccahay Sangaho, the Tika on which gives the further interesting information that by the masaka made of the fruits or seeds of trees is meant the Tamarind seed. A similar use of bitter almonds as money in Gujarat in the seventeenth century is recorded

Tavenier, Travels, Part II, p,2, Buddhaghosa in summing up also explains jatarupa rajatam in a shorter way by silver, gold, the gold masaka,the silver masaka of all the kinds mentioned, ” meaning that under the term silver masaka, the base metal, wooden, and lacquer masaka and whatever is current as money are included.

In the Kankhavitaranl, however, he states that the four forbidden things are gold, silver, the kahapana, and the masaka ; this is repeated in the Khuddasikkha, a poetical work, as the kahapana, silver, gold nuggets, the current masaka“.

The conclusions to be drawn seem to be that in the fifth century the kahapana was of all three metals. The current coin of the time was chiefly Roman, and in all probability the kahapana had then long ceased to connote a piece of a particular weight and had come to mean the standard coin of the day. Further, if Buddhaghosa’s exposition embodies an older Sinhalese commentary, that the Rudrudamaka kahapana had, perhaps, once been current in the Island. And thirdly, that masaka had cecased to be the name of any one particular coin, though perhaps not so as a weight for the gold masaka must be the gold kahapana, as, indeed, it is definitely stated to be in Sariputra’s Tika. That this was so may be inferred from the prose of the Udaya Jataka, where the gold and silver bowls are full of gold masakas and the bronze bowl of kahapana. Masaka, therefore, by the fifth century’ must have come to signify ” coin ” , money, ” just. as salli, kasi; at the present day.

5. The prose Atthakatha on the Jatakas enshrining the original gathas is said by tradition to have been composed ty Budhaghosa from old Sinhalese sources. Whether this was the case or not, the work probably is of the fifth century, and the use of such words karisam (vide infra section 10) and ammanam  Sin amuna, shows that the phraseology has been coloured to some exent by Ceylon or South Indian usage. The work contains reference to gold Nikkhas, and to the following denominations of coins : kahapanas, kala-kahapana sisa-kahapana,halfkahapana, pada, masaka, gold masaka, half masaka, and kakanika. These, with few exceptions, can be traced from independent sources as in use in the Island.


6. Nikkha, Skt . nishka, Sin, nika, is definitely mentioned as being of gold in the gathas of the Duta, Jataka; anciently it was a neck or breast ornament, probably often of a recognized weight, and thus suitable for purposes of personal adornment or of currency. Manu’s nishka was a gold pala of four suvarnas. Moggallana in the twelfth century makes it of five and distinct from the pala, but his insertion of our weight into the table is his main divergence from South Indian usage, and it is very doubtful whether the nikkha as distinct from the pala ever existed in the Island. In the Middle Ages the name is usually employed as the Sanskrit equivalent of kalanda and never denotes coin, though such was the case on the Continent .


Para 7. The kahapana, skt, karshapanas, sin, kahavana, later <i>kahavanuva, kahavanuva</i>, according to Manu, was a coin of copper, 80 gungas in weight. The Nanaghat inscription of the second century BC (Rapson’s C.C.A clxxxiii, Note) shows that a silver <i>karshapana</i> was in use in the West, and the name was applied to the circular silver coins of the Westem Kshatrapas : ” The fact that these silver coins, though called karshapanas, only weigh from 34 to 36 grains, instead of about 58 grains as would be theoretically required, is instructive, It shows that this term, when applied to a silver coin, does not necessarily denote a piece of the actual weight of 32 ratis, and suggests the conclusion that, in Ancient India as elsewhere, coin-denominations derived from weights may have acquired in the course of time very various meanings : cf  the history of our pound, ‘the pound sterling, ” the Scottish pound,&c.” (ibid., p. clxxxiv). So in medieval Ceylon the <i>kahapana was a coin of gold, in weight one half of Manu’s piece of 80 raktikas.

The kahapana of Magadha, as represented in one of the older parts of the canon, consisted of 20 <i>masakas</i>, and is known in the Commentaries as the <i>Nila</i> or ” faultless ” <i>kahdpana</i>. The Ceylon tradition, which seems to be as old as the time of Buddhaghosa, represents it as a coin of gold divided into 20 <i>masakas</i>, that is <i>manjadis</i>, of the same metal, and thus equal the <i>kalanda</i> ; according to the fourteenth century version of the Ummagga Jataka it was composed half a <i>madha</i> gold and half of alloy. The <i>pada</i> or quarter of the Ceylon School was of five <i>masakas</i>. The Burmese tradition, however, in addition to a copper coin of the name, distinguishes between two kinds of <i>kahapanas</i> both of 20 <i>masas</i>, one of pure gold, the other consisting of 5<i>masas</i> of gold, 5 of silver, 10 of copper, and one paddy seed weight of bronze; this last ” mixed ” coin is the nila kahapana (Appendix A, 24, 25) of which the conception may be due to a misunderstanding of Buddhaghosa’s statement that the kahapana was of all three metals. The equivalent of the Burmese ‘ quarter ” is said to be five <i>gunjas</i> of go1d, that is the fourth part of the gold contents-of the whole coin, which accordingly should be a <i>Karsha</i> of 20 <i>mashas</i>, of 7.2 grains each .If the Ummagga Jataka version is to be trusted, five <i>masakas</i>, the quarter of the Ceylon </i>nila kahapana</i> would also contain five </>gunjas</i> of pure gold.

<br>A clue to the identity of the old Magada <i>kahapana</i> is given by the tradition common to Ceylon and Burma (Appendix A, 9, 24) to the effect that it was one and a quarter times the value of the <i>Rudradamaka kahapana</i>. This coin from its name, would seem to be the silver hemidrachm of the Western Kshatrapas, among whom two Rudradamans are known, the first a prince of some importance, about A.D. 150, and the second about 327-358. It was issued by this dynasty from AD. 119 to about 388, and subsequently copied by the Guptas from c. 409 till at least as late as c.480: Its full weight was 43.2 grains. The <i>nila kahapana</i> therefore, should be 57.6 grains of silver and not of gold, or, in other words, was the eldling. But <i>masaka</i>, as the name of a weight, may have been superseded by the Tamil <i>manjadi</i> as early as the second century AD, if karisha be a loan word from that language (see 10 appendix D, No, l2). The use of<i>kalanju</i> would naturally come in with that of <i>manjadi</i>,This identification is consistent with the very ancient scholium incorporated in the Vinaya text of the precepts as to silver and on trafficking with that metal (Appendix A, 2)_ Commenting in the-first-named precept,it apparently confines gold to the raw.at least un-coined metal, while silver includes the <i>Kahapana</i> the (base) metal <i>masaka</i>, lacquer <i>masaka</i> which is current. A similar explanation appears in the commentary on the second precept. Again, the description of the <i>masaka</i> above given clearly applies not to a gold coin, but to one of base metal (<i>Loha</i>) or a substitute therefore. The old Maghada currency thus consisted of silver <i>kahapanas</i> or eldlings each of 20 copper <i>masakas</i>; that this, is rendered almost certain by the later money system of Magadha described in the Arthasastra (Appendix C 1) and by the analogy of the cowry currency of Bengal and Orissa described in Chapter 1.

The Ceylon tradition of the gold <i>kahapanas</i> is probably due to the common tendency to read familiar conditions into ancient texts’ Thus, in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century the <i>pagoda</i> was taken as representing the nila kahapana; the translation of “denarius” by “penny” in the English version of the gospels is due to same cause. The traditional view is not only at variance with the scholium incorporated in the Vinya but also with other ancient texts. Thus, in the Jatakas there is no mention of gold coin or currency medium except the <i>Nikkha</i>, perhaps then in the form of a neck Ornament (A.I.W., pp. 34, 35; and the Kusa Jataka) ; in the prose commentary on the other hand, reference to gold coin is not infrequent. As an example, the , “bowl full of silver”

( <i>rupiyam kamsa-puran ti</i>) in the Udaya Jataka itself should be compared with the “silver bowl full pf gold masakas(<i>suvanna- masaka puranm rajata-patim</i>) of the prose commentary. It may be objected that <i>hiranna</i> is used in the story of Anathapindika in the Culla vagga (Appendix A ,26 a) ; but the word in Sanskrit ,according Monier William Dictionary (new Edition, 1899), originally meant ” uncoined gold or other precious metal”, nd only later coined gold, ” the present authoritative interpretation in Ceylon ; in the text, perhaps,rendered “wealth” ” bullion. ”

The commentary on the Kunala Jataka mentions a <i>kala</i> or black – <i>kahapana</i>, probably Buddhaghosha common ” one of copper, and the Introduction or <i>Nidana sisa-kahapana</i> of lead;(Fussboll’s Edition I ,p.7) which may refer to Andhra or kindred coinage.

Para 8. In Ceylon the most widely spread of the early coins was the silver eldling, which for many centuries have formed the bulk of the coinage. But, apart from the application of the name to the <i>Puranas</i> in parts of India and the probability that the frequently mentioned, <i>kahapana</i> was this, the only silver coin in use , the direct evidence is confined to two passages :

(er) The Mahavamsa Tika on chap XXVII, 21, already mentioned , where one hiranna is said to have been reckoned at eight Kahapanas. The Tika on chap. xxx; 20, identifies kahapana with gold,(suvanna), and eight times the gold kahapana of 20masakas would be Manu’s pala or Nishka of about 576 grains ; but there is no trace of this weight in Ceylon until much later, when it appears in the Abhidanappadipika as equal to 10 <i>dharanas</i> or 200 <i>masakas</i>, that is, about 720 grains if the <i>kahapana</i> was the eldling and the hiranna Elliot’s spherule of gold (C,S.I., p, 53), the relative proportion of silver to gold would be about 10 to 1, both the eldling and the spherule being of much same weight. But no such gold pieces have been found in Ceylon, and it seems open to question whether these spherules are primitive. They are remarkably like Tavernier’s plate of ‘the old Pagoda” struck at the time the Rajas were Masters of the Kingdom of Golconda . these old Pagods are no-where current but in the Kingdom of Golconda ” (Travels, Pt. II, pp. 4, 5) If however the ratio between silver and gold was 10 to 1, as was the ease in Western India in early part of the second century A.D (C.C,.A”, p.clxxxv), our <i>Hiranna</i> calculated on the eldling full weight will be about 46 grains, perhaps of gold dust tied up in a bag (cf A.I.W p 25.note 1 and p 33).This is precisely the apparent unit of the early copper coinage (chp III , section 20; see also Chap ,I section 19). It should, however, be noted that in the sixteenth century, the local ratio between gold and silver as calculated on the Larin of 78.7 grains appears to have been as low as I to 7 ¼ ( Chap VIII section 20,Note)

<p>(6) Mahavamsa, XXXVI, 53, according a gift by King Abhaya Naga, A.D.237-245(G 285-293) of twice a hundred thousand, kahapanas being usual understood. .The pali

reads ” <i>dvihi sata sahassehi neka vatthaini gahiya</i>,” but the corresponding passage in the Dipavamsa is ” <i>dve sata sahassa rupiya</i>, ” ” two hundred thousand pieces of silver,” Even if this refer to coinage succeeding the eldlings, it rnay be assummed that the kahapana for 1ong period was silver.After the disuse of the eldlings, the term kahapana seems to have been employed of the standard current coin, such as the Rudradamaka kahapana mentioned by Buddhaghosa, In the Veragala inscription of the fourth century (Appendix D, No. 2l) a gift of twenty <i>mala kahavana</i>, and in the fifth century inscription of the Aralagamvila.(No. 24) dated in the twentieth year from the coronation of Mahanama, acc. AD. 412 (G. 458), another of twenty <i>(da)ma kahapana</i> are recorded. In the latter inscription part of the letter indicated by brackets is visible, and the original must have been v, c, t, d, d, or.l :.the cerebral d being used in this record for the dental as in the name Budadasa, the restoration should in all probability be <i>dama</i>, as the word cannot possibly be a numeral. The proposed reading is derivable from the Pali <i>dhamma</i> ” doctrine, “<i> daman</i> ” rope,” ” string, ” ” wreath’ ” or from the Sanskrit <i>dramma</i> ” drachma”. As <i>mala</i> must mean ” wreath, ” flower,” it seems likely that <i>dama</i> the same signification, and that both names were applied to some coin with a wreath as part of the design, such as the Roman issues of the fourth century, though the possibility of the word representing ” drachma ” cannot be excluded, especially as the successors of the Western Kshatrapa <i>kahapanas</i>, if not those coils themselves, were known by the name of <i>dramma</i>. As will be seen later, the currency of the Island in the fifth century was mainly composed of Roman ” third brass, “and we have the evidence of Cosmas Indicopleustes that the solidus was the trade coin in use at the beginning of the next century. As Buddhaghosa states that the <i>kahapana</i> was of gold, or silver, or the ” common ” one, it seems possible that the same was attached to the solidus, the latest of which found in Ceylon as well as in South India dates from the seventh century. The gold <i>kahapana</i> issued by the Polonaruwa kings agrees with the solidus in weight, and may therefore have been influenced by that coin.

Para 9. The half or <i>addha-kahapana</i> does riot appear in the inscriptions, but nay be identified with the silver coins described in the next chapter, section 6. The quarter or pada, in old Sinhalese payaka, is only found as a land measure, and is dealt with in the following section. In medieval translations from the Pali it appears as <i>pala</i> (Appendix A, 15).


Para 10. The masaka (Sin <i>masaka</i>,latter. <i>massa</i>, plur.<i> masu</i>), according to the Vinaya, was the one-twentieth of the <i>kahapana</i>, and a coin of small value or a substitute therefore. Though the precious metals doubtless were weighed in Ceylon, as in South India , by the <i>masaka</i>, which was identified with the <i>manjadi</i> seed, no ancient inscription, definitely referring to the <i>masaka</i> as a weight, seems to have been discovered. In those few, in which the word

occurs (Appendix D, Nos. l, 12, l4), it can be referred to land ; this is certainly the case it the Puvarasamkulam inscription (No. l4), which gives the extent of fields in <i>kariha, masaka</i>, and <i>kana</i>, or in <i>kariku</i> and <i>payaka</i>. and the matter is clinched by the tenth century records at Alutvewa, Kele Diwulvewa, and Polonnaruwa (Nos. 41, 42, 37), where the subdivisions of the <i>kiriya</i> are given as the <i>paya</i>, the <i>massa</i>, and the <i>kena</i>, The <i>kiriya</i>, in old Sinhalese <i>kariha</i> or <i>kiriha</i>, in Pali guise <i>karism</i>, allied to and possibly derived from the Tamil <i>karisu, karisai, karasai</i> {Can. <i>garashi, garashe</i> ; TeL. <i>garise</i>, anglice “garce” ), clearly was treated as being a <i>karsha</i> or <i>kahapana</i> of land, and this probably explains Mogallana’s enigmatic definition of <i>kahapana</i> as <i>karisapana</i> (Appendix C, 8). Old Persian <i>karsh</i>, ” to drag.” ” to plough,” <i>karsha</i>,” furrow,” and also a weight of ten shekels ; Sanskrit, <i>krsh</i> , ” to plough,” <i>karsha</i> ,’ dragging,” ” ploughing,” and the weight <i>karsha</i> or <i>kasrsha</i>; modern Persian <i>kashidan</i>, ” to drag, ” ” to carry,” ” to weigh.” Moggallana’s definition may be a varient of Manu’s <i>khrshika pana</i>. The <i>payaka</i> or <i>paya</i> is undoubtedly the quarter (Pali- <i>pada</i>) ; the <i>masaka</i> or <i>massa</i> presumably is the twentieth ; the <i>kana</i> or <i>kena</i> is discussed below.The Alutvewa inscription the sowing extent of high lands is calculated as an /i>Amuna</i> </P>

<P>11The <i>kakanika</i>, according to Narada the fourth part of the Southern <i>masha</i> and of the Eastern <i>pana</i> that is the eightieth and sixty-fourth part respectively of the <i>karshapana</i> (Appendix C, 4), appears in ancient Sinhalese as <i>kana</i> and in the medieval language as<i> kena</i> or <i>kanava</i>. In Ceylon as a coin it appears only in translations from the Pali. The local authorities, apparently writing after it had fallen into disuse or copying Indian works, differ as to its value, some making it the half of the masaka, others equal to one and a half seeds of paddy. The former is the eightieth of the karsha of ll4 grains ; the latter is the sixty-fourth of the dramma, that is the quarter of the Deccan and Western pana. Its true weight can be deduced with some degree of certainty from the analogous land measure of the same name, From the Puvarasamkulam and Polonaruwa inscriptions (Nos. 14 and 37) it is clear that the <i>kakanika</i> was less than a third of the <i>masaka</i>. The half <i>masaka</i> value, therefore, is excluded, while that of one and a half seeds of paddy does not fit in with the other Ceylon weights ; and it seems most probable that, as with Narada, the correct equation is one-fourth of the <i>masaka</i>. The Bhaisajyakalpa, however, makes it in one place the sixteenth, and in another the quarter of the seed of paddy, and so the eightieth of the <i>aka</i> or<i>pala</i>, wilh which may be compared the Canarese <i>kani</i>, the sixty-fourth of <i>hana</i>. The <i>masaka</i> and <i>kakanika</i> seem to be the original of the Tamil fractions ma (1/2) and <i>kini</i> (1/80), also used as divisions of the land measure <i>veli cf Bhu mashaka</i>, the fourth of the <i>bhumi</i> in the Champa plates of Somavarmadeva and Asatadeva (Ind. Ant., XVII, p. 7). </P>

<P>12. The <i>kamsa</i>, stated by Buddhagbosa in the Kankhavitaranl and by Moggallana to have been equal to four <i>kahapanas</i>, is found in the Sigala Jataka quoted below, in the Commentary on which, however, it is equated to the <i>kahapana</i>. It does not seem to appear in Sinhalese. The name <i>pana</i>, as opposed to /i>aksha</i>, Sin, /i>aka</i>, is also absent, save in the Sanskrit Saraitha Sangraha (Appendix C), and only makes its appearance as <i>panama</i> in the later middle ages.

The silence of the Ceylon documents as to the existence of a cowry currency is worthy of notice. The Sigala Jataka has : Sippikanam satam natthi kuto karhasa sata duve ti,” There are not [here] one hundred cowry shells,” much less two hundred kamsas ” ; but the gatas is doubtless of Indian, possibly Southern, origin a tamarind seed

Currency has been noted above.

In Tamil the empty oyster shell is <i>sippi</i> ; the live oyster is <i>Kavaddi</i> and in Sinhalese <i>kavatti</i>, This word may have derived from Sanskrit <i>kapardaka</i> which appears in Sinhalese as <i>kavadiya</i>,” cowry.” For .Kamsa cf Nunes quoted Yule’s ” Hobson Jobson” s v Ganza : ” In this Kingdom of Pegu there is no coined money, and what they use commonly consists of dishes,pans and other vessels of service, made of a metal like frosyleyra ( ? spelter) broken in pieces ; and is called ” Gamsa ” Bronze”, “Bell metal” is the Malay derivative of Sanscrit.” bell-metal, ” i! the Malay delivative from the Sanskrit.



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