The  Tree and Swastika coin is of copper or an alloy of it. The obverse of coin is a tree with varying number of branches[3 to 7] which is in a rectangular Enclosure having varying number of compartments[ 4 to 12] which is determined by the number of vertical and horizontal lines.  Flanking the Tree symbol is two other symbols, which  in most good coins  can be identified. The reverse has always the Railed Swastika which is flanked by two symbols and in few coins has a third[ A Caitiya] under it. In some coins the symbols  are with in circular borders and have the Three Dot mark placed between the others main marks.This  arrangement of symbols appears to be predetermined by some tradition,  the purpose or  the meaning of this type of arrangement or in an pre-determined manner. But what this was has yet to be determined   and is a challenge to future Numismatists.


The Bo-tree is an old symbol of the Indus Civilizations later a symbol of the Vedic Aryans in India.The tree was much used symbol  on Punch Marked Coins of India. It could be Tulasi tree to the Hindus.

The tree in enclosure is perhaps adopted by the Buddhist to represent the Buddha , during the period before the Buddha statue. It is shown over 50 instances on the Sanchi Stupa gateway in India and  depicted the Buddha in various Jataka stories associated with the Jatakas.[Web-sites – Monument of India- Sanchi ].
In most of the sculptures it appears with the Vajrasa or the throne where Buddha attained enlightenment. The Triratna too appears flanking the tree or the Asana at Bharut , Sanchi and Amaravati.Few example are shown below. The Triratna and Asana appear with the Bull and the Lion on ancient Indian coins and on ancient Sri Lankan Seals and sealing from Akurugoda and South of Sri Lanka


This as mentioned earlier is found on the Footprint of the Buddha along with the other symbols of ancient Sri Lankan coins.It is perhaps the most abundent symbols on the the PMC,s. In these it is found alone and with the Drum shaped Asana as Arms is the 6 -armed symbols. One of the earliest coins where the Tree in Enclosure is found is Gupta & Hardaker Coin Type No 369 . On this the three symbols the Tree in Enclosure , the Triratna and the Asana is of special significance, as the same combination appears on ancient Buddhist Art & sculpture. An example is shown below.These two symbols appear in either side of the Railed Swastika on the Sri Lankan coin and with the Bodhi Tree on Tree in Enclosure and Railed Swastika Coins.

The ealisest   Bo-tree in enclosure mark ,which may be identified by buddhist as the Sacred Bo-Tree under which Goutama Sidhartha attained enlightenment ,  that is on record to date may be on the kahapana of the Nanda Dynasty of India[ Gupta & Hardekar]. This coin shown below was found at Akurugoda Tissamaharama . It shows two enclosures protecting the Sacred Tree from the over zelous worshippers.

Another interesting mark that is found on a large number of coins found in Sri Lankamay be(??) a stump of a tree in enclosure. This coin is only found on coins of Asoka the Great[ Gupta & Hardekar] . This may represent at least for the buddhists the miracle of the Sri Jaya Maha-Bodhi – Tree regrowing even after two attempts to destroy it , once on the instructions of the King Asoka him self and other by his jealous Queen  as mentioned in our ancient texts.

These above coins will be much sort after pieces especially for Buddhist Numismatists.


It is found in Sri Lanka on the Buddha foot print at Jetavanarama [3 Cent AD] along with most symbols found ancient coins of Sri Lanka[TB Karunaratna].Few interesting interpretations of this symbols:-

  1. Dr Hettiarachchi states that the starting point of the development of this symbol was by a combination of the Sun and MOOn and it denotes the Zodiacal sign of the Taurus, the Bull which during the month of Vaisakha[april-may] which presided the Nativity of the Buddha.
  2. In RAS Journals Vol XX [1976] and XXXII91987/8] Mr TB Karunaratna describes this symbol, he is of opinion that it may take the from of the Nava-Yatthi of King Dutugemunu. He speculates that it is the power in respect of a Sovereign. He has no doubt that it is a Royal emblem. Until we know any other factors to the contrary we shall assume that this was placed of the side of the Railed swastika to the side to express the power in respect of a sovereign.


This mark is also shown on trade seals and Sealing found in Ruhuna, these are shown on above diagrams.The Vajrasana on an inscription of ancient King who used it as a sign manual is shown below , having a look alike symbol on an Maya devi coin.

For more details click on Tree and Railed Swastika Coins– An update of HW Codringtons – Coins and Currency of Ceylon-1924 .


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