Pot of Plenty over Two Lions- Ancient Sri lankan Art

The basic design of the coin type found in fair quantities predominantly with in the shores of Sri Lanka, has a standing Lion with a paw raised  on the obverse and a Pot above three lines ,between two Lamps or Dipa on the reverse.

The Lion and the Pot symbols are universal symbols.The Sinhalese  artists used these  common symbols and their shared Values with their  counterparts in India. When the first coin of this type was found in Tirukketisvaram they believed it was a foreign coin brought by a Pilgrim, as described by HW Codrington in Chapter VII .

The only direct contact between the Pallavas and the Sinhalese seems to have occurred in the expeditions of Simhavishnu (S.I.I., Ii, 356) and of his grandson Narasimhavarman I already referred to. The coins attributed to this dynasty, from a general resemblance to Elliot’s plate I,49,50, were found at Tirukketisvaram, a place of pilgrimage. The animal on the obverse of these coins, differs  considerably from those figured by Elliot, and the rays on the reverse are absent. The Pallava crest was a standing bull. If our animal is meant for a tiger, the coins perhaps may be early Cola ; the seal of the Malepadu plates of the ninth century Telugu-Cola Punyakumara has a however, differs maned lion, right, with one fore-paw raised and a twisted tail (Ep. Ind., XI, No. 35).

(1). Obv;. Within bead circle, lion standing right., long tail curved upwards ; over head, ? crescent. Traces of ? letters between legs and over tail.

Rev;. Large flower pot.

AE. Diameter 0.74 in. Weight : 14.8 gr.Thin very worn, and slightly broken. A,S., 1907.p.30

(2) .Obv; As last ; an object before front leg.

Rev; As last, between two lamps. Apparently no letters.

Metal Diameter : Weight
Copper  0.74 in    18.7 gr Thin;   obv. worn; rev. well preserved A,S., 1907.p.30
0.74 in    20.4 gr
0.72 in    38.3 gr Very worn

Rapson, in ” Notes on Indian Coins and Seals,” Part V (J.R.A.S., 1903, pp. 3ll, 312), describes a similar coin,thus : Obv, : Lion to r., with a forepaw upraised. Rev.: Flower pot ; on either side a staff (?); border of dots. AE 0.8 in. Weight : 74.5 gr. ; and states : ” The coin now published seems to belong to the class at   present attributed to the Pallavas; but there is no evidence to show whether it is earlier or later than those already published by Elliot.” It is figured in his plate 19. The coin described below was found at Tarakundu, near Mannar :-

Obv. : In ? double line circle a palm tree between vertical objects, presumably lamps,

Rev. : In double line circle vase, from the mouth of which rises a spring with three leaves on either side, between two lamps,

AE. Diameter : 1,02 in, Weight : 138.9 gr.

The following is from Kantarodai :-

Obv. : In line circle lion standing r., one paw uplifted and tail curved over back.

Rev. : Large tree with bifurcated trunk and four branches.

Diameter : 0.94 in. Weight : 36.2 gr, Thin. Pieris’ ” Nagadipa,” Pl. XIV, 27. This coin probably is Pallava.

The history of the Pot and Lion Coin In Sri Lanka.

There were many coins in Sri Lanka with the Lion image and the Pot too was used on our earlier coins both a a main and as a minor symbol, before the 4/5 Cent AD. The first is the Inscribed Lion and Railed Swastika of the 2nd 1st Cent BC. The next is the Maneless Lion of King Mahasena.

The Pot appearing as a main symbol  in the Rectangular Bull and as well as in a systematically placed group in deity with Narrow waist and Dot around the head coins is shown below.

The Lion on the Astamangala Slab.

The Pot with two lamps is found on a few intaglios found in the South of the Island.

A Sealing from Ruhuna

Placed below are some coins of the Island alongside the symbols of four footed Animals etc on the astamangala slab now at the Co.lombo Museum.

Symbol on the Sinhala Astamangala Slab and those on coins found in the Island.


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