CHAPTER III- Ceylon -Coins and Currency- HW Codrington



17(i).Obv:.Within double rectangular frame enclosing dots bull standing l., (?) altar before feet Above and in front four symbols, including swastika . Those on the left are over part of the bulls Head, but are quite regular, and appear to be part of the design and not punched on afterward

Rev:Faint frame as on Obv, as if showing through the metal, but it does not correspond with the frame on the obverse.

      Size 1.12 x 1.02in. ; Thickness: 0.098 in. Weight: 198.5 gr. Cast edges showing join of mould. Colo. Mus., 230




Obv ;As (i), but no symbols and before bull a vase.

Rev: Blank , rough

    Size; 0.70x 0.70 x o.059 in. Weight: 36.4 gr. Cast: Worn. Colombo Museum, 231

Obv:As 2, but apparently bowl with cover before bull.

Rev:Square frame with large dots outside; within, a semicircle enclosing a small circle

    Size; 0.72 x 0.78in. Weight 31.9 gr. Broken and worn; thinner than last, Colo. Mus, 232

Obv; As last ; altar or vase before bull

    Size : .0.64 x 0.61 in. Weight: 10.9 gr full weight may have been from 17.5 to 18.6 grains. Broken and worn ; thinner than last; Colombo Mus, 233.

The three following are from Vallipuram :-


Obv:Within double rectangular frame enclosing dots bull standing right; before him flower vase.

Rev ; similar frame circle containing three dots
Size : 0.66 x 0.68 in. Weight : 43.8 gr Pieris, XIV, 16   -Pl 17

      (vi)The same, but bull standing l. Apparently once four dots, disposed in a cross
    Size : 0.78 x 0.80 in. Weight: 38.3 gr, Thin Ib, XIV, 15
      (vii).As last, but before bull vase. Presence of dots in circle doubtful
    Size : 0.62 x 0.61 in. Weight :27.2 gr. Thin ; two corners missing.

Nos. (i) and (iv) were found at the Buddhist Rail site at Anuradhapura, where also eldlings, Maneless Lion, ,, and two Roman ” third brass ” of Arcadius or Honorius were excavated ; there is no evidence that these were all found together. Nos. (ii) and (iii) come from the Kiribat Vehera in the same city. These square coins are commonly called ”Kurumbar” in Ceylon, an attribution without foundation. A cast copper piece remarkably like our No. (i) is given in I.M.C., Vol. I p. 200, and is figured in Pl. XXII, 19 ; its diameter is 1.1 inch and weight 139.6 grains. It is unassigned, but classified as North Indian and “early” Cast rectangular coins with a bull on the obverse and a circular solar emblem on the reverse are assigned to Ayodhya and to a period between c, B.C. 150 and AD 100 ; they are, however, much smaller and of rough workmanship (I.M.C. I, PL XIX 13).
The thin coins, especially the three from Vallipuram, resemble in fabric the ” Maneless Lion ” pieces” which have four dots in a circle on the reverse. A similar thin coin was found at Kilakkarai in South India and in the collection of the Rev. J. E. Tracy of Tirumangalam ; its diameter was 0.66, good ; rev., almost obliterate

Fractional Pieces.

Many sizes of the Rectangular bull may suggest fractional pieces. The small pieces, on  the reverse  a Dot in a triangle. The Dots or Bindhus were sacred symbols of India and were used on the Punch Mark Coins of North India. The Gupta & Hardakar Symbol number of these are shown below.

The Bull and Pot

The symbols Bull and Pot is found on coins nos ii and vii. The Bull and Pot symbols are found on either side of the Railed Swastika in the coins of deities and the seated Goddess. This combination is found on a series of coins found in the Island classified by Ms Chandrika Jayasinghe as series C in  “Foreign Influence on Ancient Sri Lankan Coinage” 1997.. As mentioned earlier by Codrington these are similar in fabric to the Mane-less lion pieces and share a common reverse of 4 Dots in a circle in some coins.The smaller coins published by Bopearachchi and Wickremasinghe in 1999 the reverse in a single dot in a triangle. The four dots in a circle and the single dot in a triangle are all enclosed in a square border. These were used on Punch mark Coins of India.

The Bull on seals found in Sri Lanka, did the sinhala artists of  ancient period depict a bull the that was in common use for the carts ,an important resource  for the trade and transport. Or did they depict a Bull that was strange to them and they just copied the Bulls on the coins of ancient India- the silver kahapanas?. There seems to be a different is the shape of the horns of the Bull, those on the silver kahapanas seems to point forward and very large  but those on our coins and on Seals etc do point backwards and less prominant. The hanging glands under the neck is prominant in the seals of Sri Lanka. Perhaps an expert evidence is required for further research.

Bull on silver Kahapanaof India used in Sri Lanka

Bulls depicted on the Gateways at Sanchi Vihare, India.

Some ancient Sealings on Bull found at Tissamaharama.

A Bull drawing a Half cart Load- Bhara-Bage

The coins in the British Museum was published by C Jayasinghe. The photos and line drawings of her are shown below.

Bopearachchi and Wickremasinghe published 4 coins from Akurugoda Tissamaharama of this series in 1999.

  1. Obv:Humped Bull to right.
    Rev:In square border a Dot in triangle
    Copper 10 x 10 mm : weight=0.24 grams
  2. Obv: Humped Bull to right
    Rev:In square border a Dot in triangle
    Copper 8 x 7 mm : weight=0.04 grams
  3. Obv: Humped Bull to left an object under head of Bull
    Copper 19 x 17 mm : weight= 2.68 grams

The Pot and Bull are two symbols that were used on Trade seals and on Signets.On the later coins on some seals and signets the both the Bull and the Pot were flanked by two lamps or Dipas, which were all  auspicious symbols , perhaps well known and easily recognized by the ancient Sinhalese. However these symbols are very much used on coins of ancient India and had a long history in the ancient past.


One thought on “CHAPTER III-Ceylon-Coins & Currency- RECTANGULAR BULL TYPE

  1. yor site is absalutly superb.I have collect some coins but not oldest. when I watch your page mack me mad.

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