The Lion Coin of Parakramabahu VI of Kotte.A.D.1415 -1467


The Lions is placed to the North direction on some ancient temples or dagabos, Yatraragalas and on Astamangala Slabs. the other three animals are placed in the other three directions.This is so at Sigiriya , but to a Buddhist artist the three animals signify the three important events in the life of the Buddha

  • the Elephant the conception -the dream of Maya-devi of a white elephants,
  • the Horse, renunciation or the the horse kanthaka on whom Prince Sidhartha left the palace,
  • the Lions or the force of the lions roar his first sermon at Isipathana.

The scenes depicting these events  is shown on the Sanchi Vihare Gateway.There are many  stories in the Tripataka where the force of the buddha dhramma is compared with the Lions roar.Angunthara Nikaya- Sihasuttraya etc.The Asoka pillar erected at Issipatana the place of his first sermon is now the National Emblem of India.

The Lions depicting Buddha first sermon at Issipatana.

The Lion is the emblem of the Sinhalese and was used frequently in their art and architecture. They used it n their coins, the earliest coin with a Lion was C14 dated to the 1 Cent BC. They also used it on later lions  from the period of King Mahasen and later of the Lion and Pot coins.

Our Kings were expected by the people to be future Bodhisatavas and so follow and practice the Buddhist principles of governance. The Lion on the coin would have meant the benevolent rule of the king.

The art on Astamangala Slabs has a similarity to the symbols used by the die makers of coins,this too has to studied prior to arriving why the symbols?.

Lion Coin – HW Codrington in Coins and Currency of Ceylon.

There were Nine kings under the name of Parakramabahu, the legend on the coin with a seated lion shown above. HW Codrington has analyzed below why it was the coin of Parakaramabahu VI who ruled from Kotte. I visited the Kotte Museum which has displaced many Moulds for the casting of these coins. Many other moulds have been found elsewhere. The provenance of these moulds and the various types of these coins need to be studied, if more than 3 kings with the same name issued these coins. This may apply to the Vijabahu and Bhuvanake-Bahu coins.

The ‘Lion’, Type

The Lion on Sinhala Art and the history of Lion on ancient Sri Lankan Coins from 100BC.

20. The attribution of the ” Lion ” coin bearing the legend Sri| Parakrama Bahu has hitherto been far from. : clear. The treatment of the head and crown, as well as the frequent presence of a border of large dots, differentiate it from the usual Polonnaruwa-Dambadeniya copper, and the variations in size and weight taken into consideration with the deterioration in design would class it with, if not after, series II of that coinage, Though allied in many ways with this, the obverse bears a close resemblance to that of type II (4) of the Setu issues, the discussion of which above should be read in conjunction with the present section, and it, therefore, seems probable that it was issued in the same locality.

Lion bath at Mihintale.

The introduction of the lion, the national dynastic emblem, absent from the Polonnaruwa-Dambadeniya series, may be explainable as suitable to a coinage struck by a Sinhalese king in a foreign country. On this supposition there are only two kings of the name of Parakrama Bahu who can have issued the “ Lion” Of these, Parakrama Bahu I, between A,D. 1164-5 and 1167-8, interfered in the war of the Pandyan succession, After a campaign,in the course of which the fortified city of Parakamapura was built, the Sinhalese general Lankapura reduced the country, put his master’s candidate on the throne of Madura, and, according to the Mahavansa (cap. LXXVII, 104),. commanded that the kahapana coin bearing the superscription of the King Parakkrama, should be used throughout the country.” The Sinhalese occupation of at least a small part of the mainland seems to have been more than temporary, as Nissanka Malla clamns to have built the Nissaakesvara Temple at Ramesvaram.


this King ruled from Kotte and the coin with lion on the is now belived to be his issue.

The second, the sixth of the name, who reigned from A.D. 1415 to 1467 sent Sapumal Kumaraya against the kingdom of Jaffna, which he conquered and held for some years.

At first blush it would appear to be obvious that the coin under discussion is the kahapana referred to in the Mahavamsa. But it is to be observed that there is no mention of striking a special coinage, but merely of the enforced circulation of the Sinhalese money in the Pandyan country. The has never been found in excavations conducted by the Archaeological survey, and, further, the Set type II(4), which it resembles, must date from a period posterior to those of type I, which are copied from a thirteenth century Cola prototype. The Setu coins undoubtedly formed the currency of Jaffna, where, as we have seen, it is likely that they were struck, and it is more probable that the ,”Lion ” was issued under the authority of Parakrama Bahu VI in the kingdom. It may be objected to this theory that the proposed date is too late for the letters of the legend. But the Dambadeniya coins were current till a much later date, and quite naturally would be given as the model for the Tamil craftsmen’ who on their part would be influenced by the ,Setutype already familiar to them.

The Lion on the Sinhala Moon-stone.

21, The following are the chief types ; the comparatively large number of varieties in contrast with the Uniformity of the Dambadeni kasi is noteworthy, as, whether struck by Parakrama Bahu I or VI, all must have been issued within a comparatively short period :-

I-Hanging Lamp with Dots

A.-As in twelfth-thirteenth century Sinhalese.

Obv. : Head, a semicircle, from the chord of which three lines project; crown, or makula, two curved lines with a dot in rear ; r, elbow more pronounced : in r. hand a lamp consisting of a straight line ending in a ball and flanked on either side by two dots ; in l. band a small ball : in some this rests on the palm, in others is held by the finger and thumb, Feet turned outwards, no line between the legs, but one across them at the knees ; a small curved line without finials under the feet. Two dots, one under each arm.-, represent the upper part of the dhoti.

The Standing Lions- found in the Garbapatras of Topa-vava

To right, a lion seated and facing r., left foreleg uplifted ; each paw has three claws. In Rhys Davids No. 5 the uplifted leg has degenerated into a symbol resembling a mace, possibly though a mistake of the die engraver, A varying number of dots in the field. The whole is in a circle of large dots.

Rev. : A similar head, with eye, or the central projecting line crosses the chord, either (l) reaching the back of the semicircle, or (2) stopping halfway ; crown, as on

Qbv. In L hand either (1) a narrow upright object curving over to the left at top, or (2) a small ball held by the finger and thumb. The l. leg is in line with the body . Dhoti consists of two short branching lines, below which a line of dots. Anklets visible ; a trace of the asana showing a small line to l. of lower leg. The whole in a circle of large dots,

Legend : Sri Parakrama Bahu. Pl.97.

In some specimens the right limb of the ra curves outwards.

Diameter Weight
In. Gr.
RD 5 0.80
HWC 0.80 64.3 Good
HCPB 0.80 53.7 Somewhat worn
HCPB 0.76 60.4 Good

4 thoughts on “The Lion Coin of Parakramabahu VI of Kotte.A.D.1415 -1467

  1. First off, I wish to thanks in the outstanding as well as educational entry. I will need to acknowledge which often, We havent noticed relating to this info. We have noticed quite a few brand new information with regard to cause. Many thanks a lot for giving this particular effective as well as fascinating information. We’re waiting around pertaining to other thrilling posts due to you from the closest long run.

  2. We like the lion because it goes with ‘Snhala’,
    Otherwise only one symbol among any dynastic symbols
    Not even the most common
    Ruhuna flag shows the lion which is now considered Dutugamunu’s flag
    I like the tale, but even if it sounds less romantic we should only go by proper scientific investigation
    Particularly, as no Sinhala race was mentioned during this kings reign (only Kamboja, Dameda, etc in texts)
    Why not the cobra (flag) as the king was reputed to be a ‘Naga’.

    • The Sinhala and the Lion[ Sinha] No Sinhala race mentioned etc. I have this newspaper article written by Prof Abaya Aryasinghe.A precis of his work is.
      1. The most ancient Pali work is called Sihalavatthuppakrana written during King Dadhatisa{ 137-119 BC] calls the Island Sihaladipa and Tambapanaidvipa. 2. The Island is called lanka in the Pali text Mahavansa[over 40 times] and Dipavansa [over 30 times]. 3.Indian litreture talks of many lankas all over India. 4.Ramanyana mentions a city of lankapura not a Lankadipa. 5.Mahabaratha, Kathasaaritsagara, Diyawavadaan and other ancient Sanscrit text and works of Astrology,and gemmology call it Sinhaladipa. 6. The Alahabad Inscription of King Samudragupta and the Triyaya Inscriptions call it Sinhal with the dental la.
      7. South India tamil call it Iilam , which is an adaptation of Sinhala[ ?]
      8. The Arabs called it Serendib and Singlebad, etc. Why Prof A thinks it is because the Kings belonged to the Sun race[ Suryawansa ] . and the standard of the Sun God is the lion. This may be in addition to Vijaya story.

      He ends with suggesting that the name Sri Lanka on the constitution be changed to Sinhladipa

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