Railed Swastika Series I – Large Elephant , Lion , Horse and Bo-Tree in Enclosure

This is an update of HW Codrington 1924-CCC.


In this blog I have added all data available to me which is not in  that outstanding  book of HW Codrington which was published in 1924 which is the bible for all Numismatists.

Part I- Horse & Swastika Coins.

Part II- Lion and Railed Swastika Coins

Part III- Tree & Railed Swastika

14. A solitary coin of this type was found at Kantarodai. In size and general appearance it is closely ,connected with the large” Elephant and Swastika” pieces, but is comparatively thin. It is much worn and considerable part of the flan projects beyond the die on one side.
Obv. : Within two line circles, at bottom a horse r.; above, a tree in enclosure, with group of three dots to L
Rev. : Within a line circle, railed swastika ; to r. a rectangle in a semicircle based on the line circle above, and between this and the swastika another rectangle divided into four compartments and placed diamond-wise. The design on the right half of the obverse and on the left of the reverse, as well as the upper portion both faces, is illegible.
Diameter : l.49 in. Weight : 109.4 gr. Pieris, XIII,


The Lion and Railed Swastika pieces are only found in Sri Lanka. The distribution is from the North in Jaffna , Anuradhpura in the centre and in Ruhuna in the South of the Island.

The  minor  symbols flanking the the lion on the obverse and the Railed swastika on the reverse ,are same as on all coins of this Series. These were found and recorded   in archeological excavations at Anuradhapura and in Tissamahrama. They have been found in the same pit at various levels, . There is no coin of India or any where else in the world  that matches these symbols exactly. The placement of these symbols namely the Caitiya, the Standard , The Triratna , the Three Dots  etc has no parallel any where else in the world except those coins of this series.A summery of the symbols which are worm off due to usage in most coins shown  below.

Finds .

Codrington published a single coins from D PE Peiries collection from Kantarodi as paragraph 15 in Ceylon-Coins and Currency . 1924

15. Obv : Mane-less lion, tail curved over back, standing to r. upon (.?) caitya. To right variation of symbol No.1 . All in Line circle.
Rev.: Railed swastika revolving to r; apparently traces of letters to r. Rectangular.
Size : 0.47 x 0.55 in. Weight : 25.6 gr. Thick. Pl. 11. From Kantarodai Pieris, XIV, 9.

Lion & swastika

PE Peiris's Coin - Kantarodi Jaffna

Line drawing of Dr PE Peiris coin from Kantarodi

PE Peiris - Kantarodi

New Finds.

Ms Chandrika Jayasinghe in an article “New Investigations on some unique type of Inscribed Coinage” in the Island 9 Mar 1997 identified 2 type/ Sizes of the Lion coin.Recent discoveries during the German excavations at Tissamaharama has added a heavy lion coin which is inscribed [R Walberg ].


A.The first type is the heavy coin of about 10 Grams in weight. The dimension are not given.

B.The second type of coin is about 7 gm in weight and are inscribed is described by Codrington above. There are small variation in this size coins.The Caitiya and the inscribed letters may appear either on the obverse or reverse .

C.The third is a much Smaller coin[Ms. C. Jayasinghe] and is  not inscribed?.There are many variations in the symbols above lion and on either side of Railed swastika.


15 a.

Obv : Mane-less lion, tail curved over back, standing to r. upon (.?) caitya which is between its hind legs and front paws. The letters in early prakrit read from bottom ” Ma Ha Ra Ja Ti Sa Pu Ta sa puta …. . All in Line circle.This was read as Maharatipujasa etc by R.Walberg.

Rev.: Railed swastika revolving to r; Diamond shape.The Railed Swastika distinguishes this coin from other coins with similar obverse of the same period found in India, See Note
Size : ? mm. Weight :10.1 gr.

Akurugoda 1 cent BC



The Caitiya is under the lion and inscribed around Railed Swastika ?.

15 b. Obv : Trace of front legs of lion or horse?,  standing to r. upon (.?) caitya. . part of Line circle to right below caitya.
Rev.: Railed swastika revolving to r; Circular. German Excavation from Aklurugoda
Size : mm. Weight : gr.


15c[Variation] .The Inscription is on the reverse around the Railed Swastika.

A coin of Dr Kavan Ratnatunga which has only been lightly cleaned..
Obverse : Lion jumping to the right with arched back and front legs stretched forward. Three heaped caitya below. Parts of few Brahmi text characters visible
Reverse : Railed swastika revolving to right (clockwise) at center of coin. Brahmi text characters visible all around periphery
Size 16.4 mm
Thickness 3.5 mm
Weight 2.76 grams


15.d .Obv : lion, standing to right over caitya
Rev.: Railed swastika revolving to right .
Size : mm. Weight : gr.


MR C Seenicutti's Jaffna Coin

Mr C Seenicutti's Coin

15e. Obv : lion, standing to right over caitya. Traces of letters around lion.All in Line circle.triangular symbol on left.  Property of Mr C.Seenicotti
Rev.: Railed swastika revolving to right ; Ashaft to left.  Octagonal shape cut into 3/4 part.Size : 23 mm. Weight : 74 grains.

15 f.A coin found in the citadel of Anuradhapura, Wijebahu Palace during excavation by paleographically dated to 1-2 cent AD.Published by Ms C .Jayasinghe The Island -9 Mar 1997.

Obv : A lion, with tail curved over back, standing to r. upon a three arched caitya. The letters in early prakrit read from bottom ” va …va ..ya Ra Ja Pu Ta se Na..” . All in Line circle.
Rev.: Railed swastika revolving to right in centre with two triangulkar headed symbols .
Size= 20.04 mm; Weight 6.79 Grams: thickness=3 mm

Wijeyaba Palace - 190-100BC

Inscribed - ......Va Ra Ja Pu Ta Se Na .........

No   Weight-grams   Size mm   Obverse Legend in Brahmi   .. Railed Swatika
E1   6.77   25 x 19   YES   .. Yes
E2   3   18   YES   .. Yes
E3   4.06   22   YES   .. Yes
E4   6.28   22   YES   .. Yes
E5   3.30   21 x 12   YES   .. Yes
E6   304   18   YES   .. Yes
E9   7.78   26 X 25   YES   .. Yes

15.f. Table of  Coins of Wing Comd, Raja Wickremasinghe .Published in RUHUNU- AN ANCIENT CIVILIZATION RE-VISITED.
The inscription around Lion on obverse ?.

15 h[Variation] .

Mr OMR Sirisena Coin

Obv : lion, standing to r. Traces of letters around lion.All in Line circle.
Rev.: Railed swastika revolving to right over caitya; . Rectangular.
Size : mm. Weight : gr.

Mr OMR Sirisena Coin


15.h.a A coin of Brig B Munasinghe from Akurugoda.Octagonal shape cut as in Mr Seenicuttis coins.




15 i.A coin of MrKNV Seyone from Kantarodi Jaffna.Published by Ms C .Jayasinghe The Island -9 Mar 1997.

Small lion and Railed swastika, Caitiya over Lion.

Obv : lion, standing to r. To right a tringular headed symbol.Above lion a caitiya.All in linear frame.
Rev.: Railed swastika revolving right.
Size :10 x 13 mm. Weight : 25.06 grains.


German Excavation- Akurugoda

. Obv : lion, standing to r. The Nandapadi and swastika over lion. Traces of Line circle.
Rev.: Railed swastika revolving to right over caitya; . Rectangular.
Size : mm. Weight : gr.

Small Lion abd Railed Swastika. 2 symbols over Lion

Line Drawing - Caitya under Railed Swastika

15 j. Coin of Raja Wickremasinghe- From Anuradhapura.
Obv : lion, standing to r. Traces of letters around lion.All in Line circle.
Rev.: Railed swastika revolving to right
Size : 13mm. Weight :0.83 grams.

15 k.Other smaller denomination published by Bopearachchi & Wickremasinghe.

Obv : lion, standing to r. The Nandapadi and Swastika over lion.
Rev.: Railed swastika revolving to right.
Size : mm. Weight :

Small Lion and Railed Swastika- Triratna and Swastika over lion


4:13 PM 3/26/2010

No   Weight-grams   Size mm .. Reverse symbol
E7   1.35   12 .. YES
E8   0.56   10 x 7 .. YES

This web page was prepared by Brig Siri .Munasinghe on 24 March 2010.


There are many variations in the symbols and the shapes and sizes. Perhaps these are expected due to these coins been used perhaps from 2 Cent BC to 2 Cent AD.  Circular, Rectangular and those cut into a pentagonal shape has been recorded. The sizes and weights too vary. The number of branches in the Bo-tree vary from  3 to 7. The symbols are in double circular lines, single circular lines or a set of dots. In most coins the lines or dot border is worn off. On the reverse the Swastika may rotate right or left.

There appears to be  two symbols flanking the Tree in enclosure. The Three dots appear above these symbols. But on most coins these are no longer visible.The two  may be variations of the Nandipada or Triratna symbol, the variations of the Asana or Drum like symbol or the Standard. Some time the double asana appears in either side.

On the reverse two symbols of the same symbols as on the obverse flank the Railed Swastika and in some coins the Caitiya or three arched Hill appears below the Railed Swastika.

All these features or special characteristics that  found on  other Sri Lankan coins :the Multi-symbol Elephant and railed Swastika Coins, the Lion and railed Swastika coins while a limited number appears on the small elephant and railed Swastika.They all seem to follow some minimum requirement that implies some meaning or a pictograph or idea-graph the meaning of which  is now lost.

16. Four-branched tree:-
.(1A)Obv. : Four-branched tree within enclosure of four compartments. on the upper corners of which apparently a dot surmounted by two small lines forming a right angle with the apex uppermost. To r., two symbols, No.1 above with group of three dots on r. side and below swastika. Symbols to l. off flan.
Rev. : Large railed swastika revolving r. between two indistinct symbols perhaps Nandipada to l .and No. 4 to r. To upper r. of last a group of three dots under swastika a (?) caitya.
Diameter: 0.94in. Weight: 37.4 gr. Thin and worn, Found in river bed 4 feet from surface immediately below the Ruhunu Maha Kataragama Temple. The remainder, unless otherwise stated, are from Vallipuram.

(1B) (a)(i) Obv.: within double-line circle within enclosure of four compartments tree with two branches at the top . The treetop and each branch ends in a group of three dots. Two branches also spring from the base of the tree at the enclosure, the l. hand with two dots at the end, the r. hand with one. To l. of enclosure symbol No.1; to r obliterated
Rev : Railed swastika revolving r.; a group of three dots to l of head To l, symbol No l, to r Nandipada with two dots above.Rectangular with circular die.
Size:0.53 x 0.57 in, weight :41.8 gr, Peries,XIV,1.from Kantarodai

(ii) Obv . In line circle similar tree. Symbol No 1 to l., Nandipada to r,
Rev : As last, but no dots. Horizontal line over symbol No 1 : symbol to r off coin Caitya below rail.Rectangular with circular die ; Obv. die placed diamond-wise. Broken
Size : 0.55 x 0.41 in Weight : 18.2gr Pieris XIV,2 Pl 12

(iii)Obv. : In line circle similar tree as (i); but three dots at ends of lower branches. Symbol to l, obliterated ; Nandipada to r.
Rev: Railed swastika; symbol No 1 with two projections or r. side to r; Nandipada with horizontal line above to r.Rectangular with circular die; Obv die placed diamond-wise.Rev.: worn.
Size : 0.45 x 0.37 in Weight : 17gr Pieris, XIV, 3.

(b)(i)Obv : In double-line circle four-branched tree in enclosure of four compartments. To l, symbol No 1; symbol to r off coin.
Rev: Railed swastika above remnant of caitya; to l.Nandipada,to r remnant of symbol No 1.
Diameter : 0.68 in. Weight : 52.8 gr, From Kantarodai.

(ii) Obv. : In line circle similar tree, but top and upper branches end in triple and the lower in quadruple fork; enclosure divided by three vertical lines. To l. (?) symbol No. 1, that to r obliterated.
Rev.: In similar circle railed swastika revolving r. betweenNandipada with square top on l, and or r. variety of symbol No 4 ; in it the two side lines meet, and from their junction a small vertical line springs. In lieu of the cross line in the middle is a short projection on the l and over the whole a horizontal line
Diameter : 0.70 in. Weight 42.3 gr Slightly broken PerisXIV,12. PL 13

(iii)Obv : Similar tree branches ending in triple fork ; enclosure of twelve compartments. Symbols off coin
Rev.: Railed swastika revolving r. To r. symbol with horizontal line above, symbol to l off coin
Diameter :0.62 in. Weight, 26.8 gr

(iv)Obv : As last, Rev.: As last ; to r symbol perhaps the same as on (ii), that to l obliterated.
Diameter 0.62 in. Weight 26.6 gr, Broken Pieris XIV, 18.

(v)Obv: Tree as last, but enclosure of four compartments; indistinct symbol to l symbol to r off coin. All in line circle.
Rev : Railed swastika revolving r, Indistinct symbol on 1.,symbol No 1 on r,Rectangular.
Size 0.47×0.45in Weight:21.8gr. Pieris XIV, 4.

(vi)Obv. : Similar tree, enclosure not visible. To r symbol No 1 with short projection on l, Symbol to r. obliterated.
Rev. : Railed swastika revolving r.
Diameter : 0.43 in Weight : 15.1 gr,

(2) Six-branched tree:-
Obv: with in bead and line circle six branched tree, each branch ending in triple fork, in enclosure of twelve compartments; to l. (?} variant of symbol No4, to r. symbol obliterated,
Rev: Railed swastika revolving To l. obliterated symbol, or.(?)pot.
Diameter : 0.?8 in Weight : 62.2 gr. Slightly broken. Pieris, XIV, 13 PI 14.

(3) Eight-branched tree :-
(i)Obv: In line circle eight-branched tree with in enclosure of four compartments.To r. symbol No1, off coin.
Rev: Railed swastika revolving r, symbol to l. obliterated ,symbol to r off coin.
Diameter : 0.5? in Weight : 22.8 gr Pieris XIV, 6.

(ii)Obv. : Similar tree but in enclosure of six compartments; to l symbol No. 1, to r. indistinct symbol.
Rev.: In line circle railed swastika revolving 1; (?) variant of symbol No 6. with smaller triangle above on L Symbol to r. off flan.
Diameter : 0.53 in. Weight: l9.8 gr Pieris, XIV, 5

(iii)Obv. : As (i), but each of the four compartments contains a dot. To l. Nandipada; symbol to r is off the flan.
Rev. : Railed swastika revolving r. with line beneath. To l symbol as last, to r. indistinct symbol of which the upper part consists of two horizontal lines,
Diameter : 0.53 in Weight,16.3 gr. Pl 15.

Few Interesting symbols found on coins published by Bopearachchi & Wickremainghe. form Ruhuna.

These pages was inserted  by Brig. Siri Munasinghe,
on  August 14, 2009

Please direct any comment to filter@sltnet.lk


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