Chapter III-CCC HWCodrington

Sinhala Name found on ancient Inscription- Kahavana  or Kahapana- Skt-Khrsapana

2. The punch-marked coins called in Sanskrit Purana “old,” – English as “Eldlings”, are found in Ceylon as well as throughout India. They may be recognized in the “signatum argentum” offered a tribute to Alexander at Taxila, but in all probability their origin must be sought in a remoter past, The Persian Empire was bounded by the Indus from the end of the sixth century, and a money of this early type is not likely; to have been initiated when a far superior model was furnished by the darics and sigli ; if the Buddhist scriptures are to be trusted, the beginnings of the eldling coinage must be anterior to the time of Gautama. Although they do not seem to have been current in the North much after the beginning of our era, they continued in circulation in the South for some two centuries later according to Mr. Vincent A. Smith (Imperial Gazetteer of India, Vol. II. p. 150). Mr. Loventhal, in his “Coins of Tinnevelly, ” would extend the period of their use to about A.D. 300. The reasons adduced by Mr. Still (J.R.A.S., C.B., Vol. XIX, No. 58, 1907, p. 191,ff) to prove the circulation of this class of money in Ceylon about A.D. 1000 appear to be inadequate; the currency of the Island was closely connected with that of South India, and in all probability the employment of the eldling ceased in both countries about the same.
The Eldlings were manufactured by subdividing bars of metal or strips cut from a hammered silver, weight being adjusted where necessary by clipping the corners of each coin so formed. The obverse is usually covered with punch marks, often overlapping and clearly impressed at different times; the marks on the reverse, on the other hand, are usually fewer in number, in the great number of cases one only, are less distinct, and frequently smaller. These archaic coins were probably issued “by local authorities-money-changers or merchants” and were submitted by then for the approval of the local king or governor, whose stamp appears on the reverse. The punch marks on the other side, once blank, being those of the successive money-changers, through whose hand they passed in the course of circulation (Theobald, Notes on some Symbols; Rapson, Counter-marks). In Ceylon these marks are absent from the obverse of the majority of the later dumpy pieces[ Thousands of coin found since 1924- A fair number of them have Bankers Marks].

A Coin from Sri Lanka with Bankers Marks- Henry Parker- Ancient Ceylon.

On none of the eldlings found locally have I been able to trace on the reverse any constantly recurring symbol which can be attributed to the Island, such as the railed swastika of the copper die-struck issues I am, therefore, inclined to the belief that all eldlings current in Ceylon were imported from India.

A Coin found in Sri Lanka – Series III on Series II

If the Arthasastra is to be credited, in Magadha in the time of Candragupta there were coined, at least in theory, in addition to the silver pana or eldlings, its half, quarter, and eighth, and in copper the, whole and half mashaka, corresponding with Manu’s karshapana, and its quarter and eighth, the whole and half kakini (op cit., Bk. I,Chap.12 ). As Canakya, before his master’s accession to the throne, is said to have amassed treasure by re-coining (Chap. II, sec. I) the introduction of a State mint, perhaps, may have been due to the policy of the founder of the Maurya Empire.

The standard of the silver eldling is the dharana of 32 gunjas; in the South it is said by Elliot to have been the kalanju seed, but in practice there was little or no difference, even if the two standards were not identical.

3. In Ceylon very few copper eldlings appear to be known other than the cores of silver coins, often with traces of the coating still adhering: The majority of the silver pieces are much worn, and really good specimens are rare.


Pl 1-The Coin is identified as Series II G & H Type 269.

The coins fall into two main classes; (1) rectangular and (2) roughly circular or oval ; each of these again has a cross division into (a) thin and (b) thick. Though no clear line of separation exists, the thickness varying from that of thin cardboard to about 0.12 inch, the difference between the thin and wide coins, usually covered with punch marks, which are the earliest (Pl. 1 ; Cunningham, Coins of Ancient India, p. 43), and the thick and rather Dumpy pieces or ingots, very often blank with a few indentations (Pl. 2), is very marked. These latter are both, rectangular, and circular, and seems to have been made in these shapes; the oval thin eldlings appear to have been originally rectangular, and subsequently reduced to their present shape by the process of clipping referred to.

The small and Dumpy coins belongs to Series V and VI- The above is a coin of King Chandragupta- the Grand father of King Asoka . This coin was found in The Island.


The available specimen of the thin variety up to and including a thickness of 0.039 inch weigh from 14.9 (very worn) to 50.4 grains, the average of 36 being 30.5 grains; the seventeen thinnest, however, ranging from 14.9 to 45.1 grains only give an average of 26.6. The highest weight for the available thick rectangular coins is 48.7 grains and the lowest 20.7, of which last the size is only 0.51 by. 0.43 inch; the average of twenty-one is 34.4 grains, as against Parker’s average of 32.9 for thirteen (Ancient Ceylon, p.472). The thick circular pieces, of which eight average 33.8 grains, vary from 26 to 43.2 grains. The total average of twenty-nine thick coins of both varieties is 34.3 grains. Inferences drawn from these and similar figures to prove the duration of the use of the eldling currency are apt to be fallacious, for the lighter coins may be the fractional pieces of the Arthasrastra.

These coins belong to G & H Series VII- Minted by the Decendents of Asoka

4. In process of time the punch marks, perhaps only in certain localities and trough the state monopoly of coinage, become fixed, though relative position slightly varied; rectangular eldlings of this kind are figured in Loventhal’s work in Pl. I, Nos, 4, 5, and 6. The only ones reported from Ceylon bear on one side a. Three men or a man and two women standing in a row, b. A Peacock on a Caitiya, and c. A balance or scales (cf. Theobald Fig. 9) , arranged thus :-

(i) c b
: Size : 0.62 x 0.43 x 0.078 in Weight ; 46.1 gr
(ii) b c
: Size : 0.61 x 0.47 x 0.118 in Weight ; 44.7gr (CA,I,iii, Pl.X ,nos 2,3 )

On the reverse of both is symbol (b), Pieces with these punch marks appear in I.M.C., I, p 138 Nos 37-40;No. 37 shown in Pl, XIX, 3, is the same as (i) and weights 52.3 grains.

5. The double-die thick plaque, having on the obverse a dagoba and on the reverse a bo-leaf, and weighing from 77 to 83 grains, with a size of 0.51 by 0.33 inch (Lowsley, Pl.VIII, 1) is probably a votive offering as is also the plaque shown in the Taprobanian of June, 1888, p 53.

Both seems to be modern. With them may be compared crystal seal described by Mr. H. C. P. Bell in ” Two Buddhist Seals ” in the Ceylon Antiquary Vol. III Pt 1, PI, VII.


6. The next step is the union of various symbols in one die, a good specimen of which process is seen in the “Elephant and Swastika” double die large copper coins. At first, however, the die was confined to one side the reverse being either blank or punch marked.
Silver – The only coins known are in the cabinet of Mr. Bell, described by the present writer in the Ceylon Antiquary; Vol. I, pt. 3, p. 178. One is a rectangular piece, 0.47 x 0.21 x 0.11 inch in size and 25.9 grains in weight. “The design”, only half of which is on the flan, ” seems to be a solar emblem, consisting of a central ball or boss from which springs a cross-wise, four lines ending in similar balls; in each space so formed in a Taurine (CA, Pl X no 3). The reverse is blank, but possibly has one indentation”- on the rest ” the design consists of a bull, or such animal, in the lower half of the area, and a (?) fish, from whose back spring long rays upwards and , backward in upper half : both objects face to the right and have before them three symbols , which appear to be (a) a crescent at the top, (b) the sun, and at the bottom (c) a Taurine. “The die is all clearly circular”1. Of the four known, two have the reverse blank, one has a few indentations. and the remaining piece one , if not two, punch marks,
1. Rectangular Size : 0.39 x 0.37 x 0.07 in. Weight : 24.4 gr Pl. 3
2. Do. Size : 0.41 x 0.33 x 0.07 in. Weight : 24.7 gr,
3. Do. Size : 0.43 x 0.31 x 0.07 in. Weight : 25.4 gr.
4. (?) Circular Size : 0.47 x .07 in. Weight : 20.6 gr Pl. 4. (C.A.Pl.X, Nos.6-10).

Plates 3 & 4

Coins Anuradhapura Museum- ! Bull or such animal, Fish with Rays and 3 Symbols 2. Central Ball , four lines with ending with similar Balls.

A small silver coin in the same collection is clearly of the same series, but is double-die. The obverse is the same as the preceding; the design on the reverse is, perhaps, similar to the solar emblem on the first described piece but it is much worm, The coin is very thin, and may once have been circular ; it is 0.33 inch in diameter 4.9 grains in weight. In all the above coins the design is deeply struck. The standard must be that of the eldlings, the coin being halves, with the exception of the small piece just described, which may be the eighth.


7. Copper. — These are oblong pieces, with rounded corners, concave on one side and rough on the other The design is now quite invisible. Pl. 5
1. Tirukketisvaram Size : 0.62 x 0.51 x 0.15 in. Weight : 74.9 gr
2. Do. Size : 0.53 x 0.39 x 0.13 in. Weight : 26.6 gr.
3. Anuradapura, Buddhist Rail Size : 0.61 X 0.45 x 0..09 in. Weight : 24.2 gr.
4. Do. Size : 0.62 x 0.49 x 0.06 in. Weight : 21.6 gr,
5. Do. Selacaitya Size : 0.55 x 0.50 x 0.06 in. Weight : 16.5 gr.

A similar coin, but roughly circular and lenticular, was found at the north end of Vessagiriya, Anuradapura its diameter is 0.53 inch, and weight 29.8 grains. Alleged similar pieces unearthed at Kantarodai in the Jaffna peninsular are described by Mr. P. E. Pieris in his paper on ” Nagadipa”,in J.R.A.S., C.8., Vol, XXVIII, No. 72 of 1919. Pl. XII, Nos. 18, 19,21,22,26, Most seem to be the cores of eldlings, but one (No, 18) is distinctly concave: its size is 0.62 by 0.43 inch, and its weight is 28.6 grains, At Tirukketisvaram was also found a flat rectangular piece with rounded corners. One side is apparently blank; on the other is what seems to be a fish with long projecting fins, with which design should be compared that of the silver coins described above. It weighs in its broken condition 29.2 grains, and measures 0.49 x 0.45 x 0.11 inch. From the same place come two circular coins, which may be noticed here. One is thick, flat on one side, the design on which is undecipherable, and convex and worn smooth on the other ; the second is, perhaps, blank on both sides. The diameter and weight are 0.57 and 0.33 inch, and 3l.2 and 6.2 grains, respectively.

The single-die coins found at Anuradhapura have been described by Mr. Still in J.R.A.S., C.B., Vol XIX No. 58, 1907, pp. 200, 201. The deductions as to their age therein set forth cannot be maintained ; as, though they were discovered at the same site as the fourth and fifth century Roman coins, there is no evidence that they were actually found together, These coins found in India published by John Allen, the have been identified by Indian Numismatist as belonging to the Surasenas [ 4 Cent BC].

8. The symbols appearing on the following coins are- (1) An isosceles triangle, base uppermost, with a short horizontal line crossing the apex and a short vertical line pendent there from.
(2) Variant of the last, but the triangle is on its side ; in some instances a small vertical line projects from its side, either above or below
(3) Nandipada symbol ; a trident head. with the side prongs curved and longer than the central one, over a circle, from which it is sometimes separated by a horizontal line,
(4) Horizontal line, from each end of which rises a curved line, the two being back to back and. Crosses in the middle by another horizontal line. There is usually a similar line above the *hole, In s few instances this is doubled, the middle line being absent.
(5) A truncated cone, inverted and crossed at the top, centre, and bottom by three bands, cf: Nasik -Nos. 13, 14 (Archaeological Survey of Western India, Vol. IV).
(6) Two isosceles triangles placed vertically apex to apex with a bar across the junction ; the lower triangle is the smaller. From the left side of the upper there projects a short horizontal line. In .a variant the symbol assumes the shape of an hour glass with a projecting line on either side of the centre, cf Kuda, No.26(op, cit.).


These Coins have been identified as belonging to Surasena Janapadaya of India.

Surasena was one of the sixteen original Mahajanapadas of the Buddhist chronicles. The name of that country is derived for the name of Sura, the King of Surasena and the father of Vasudeva and Kunti. The location is at Braj, the region around Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. The history of this Janapada is is very obscure – the ruling family is known to have styled itself “Yadava” family, and that some of their kings were cloely related to the royal family of Avanti. Around 350 AD Surasena was conquered by Mahapadma Nanda of Magadha.

Mathura is mentioned in our Chronicals Mahavamsa and Dipavamsa, is one of the homes of the descendents of Mahasammata dynasty , the origin of the Sinhalese Royalty.In Fact King Vijeya sent a message to King Pandu of Mathura and obtained a Kastriya Princess , who was consecrated as his queen.She came along with many fair Maidens , Elephants withal and horses and Waggons, and a thousand craftman of 18 guilds[ Mahavansa Chapter VII Verse 56]. It is not surprising that these coins are found here.

A few of these coins at the Anuradhapuara museum was published by Sirisoma and Amarasinghe in the book in Sinhalese HUs Ebu Kasi. These are shown below

IM01IM003PMC's 1pCopr

These coins were first published by John AllenIMG

Another coin found at Anuradhapura that was published by John Allen

utitledThese as described by J Allen was IMG006How and why  these coins which were perhaps from Matura in North India.were found in the Island.These coins are said to be earlier than the 5 mark Punched Marked Coins. Sri Lanka had connections with Mathura region in the early period, in fact it is mentioned that Vijaya the first king got down the Kastriya Princess from Matura.

These silver pieces have counter marks on the reverse too. John Allen do not mention about this?.This needs further studies as the author only studied the photos published in book ” Hus Ebu Kasi”.







1: For coins with circular die and rectangular flan, cf: C.C.A., Pl. X. 265 and 266 of Jayadaman, A.D, 124-150, and Pl V, GP5 of the Andhra dynasty.

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