GOLD COINS OF SRI LANKA-DESIGN,NAME OF COUNTRY AND VALUE

GOLD COINS OF SRILANKA-DESIGN,COUNTRY NAME,VALUE ETC ON COINS

FOR POWER POINT PRESENTATION– Ceylon Type Coins up to Parakramabahu VI    , This explains the coins between 8 Cent AD upto the 15 Cent AD. How the ruler who issued coins in the late Anuradhapura period, initially placed the Name of the Country, then known as Lanka in Mahawansa and as  Laka Diva or Sri Lak on the inscriptions  of the Kings of the  late Anuradhapura period[ Inscriptions of Ceylon Vol IV]. They placed Sri Lak or Sri Lanka on the gold coins. They also placed the Value of the coins , in Sinhala nagari as Viha on the full coin, as Ka on the half, the letter Ma for the quarter and the word Aka for the eighth.

The Kings of Pollonnaruva placed the their names  on the coins, this was perhaps after the Chola Kings who dominated part of the country and followed the similar design as the Gold kalanda, but replaced the name of the country and the value with the name of the King[  Sri Rajaraja, Rajendra etc]

HW Codringtons- Coins and Currency of Ceylon 1924  named then under the heading CEYLON TYPE COINS.His descriptions is placed below for reference, with an addition of photos of coins that he has referred to  along with new find of this type of coins in the Island since then

Ceylon Type- A type II Rankalanda – Double Lotus.800 AD?

 Sir W. Elliot in his ‘ Coins of Southern India’, page 100 was of opinion that the “Ceylon type ” was derived from the Gupta coinage, a common design of which has on the obverse a standing figure nimbate holding a spear and throwing grains of incense upon an altar, and on tie reverse the goddess Lakshmi seated on a lotus ( v.also coin of Kumaragupta I, A.D. 413-455, and of Sasanka, c.AD.606-620, I.M.C Vol I ,Pl XVI. Nos. 2 and 3).

Gupta Coin Conch TypeSasanka Coin 606-620 AD

Gold Coin of Sasanka – 606-629 AD

This type goes back to the Kushan dynasty, of which the coins have on the obverse the standing figure of King holding a spear, with an altar over trident , and on the reverse a throned goddess. The squatting figure of the Ceylon type however, more closely resembles the-“conch type ” of Chandragupta II. Vikramaditiya-c.AD 375-413. XV, 10). The employment of the seated goddess type in the south on a court-struck dinars of the eighth century tends to show that, though the general idea of the commoner Gupta coinage may have been followed, it was not slavishly copied.The attitudes of the figures on either side are common ones in Indian art, and that on the reverse may be compared with Yatthala dagoba seal (Ancient Ceylon, p. 495)[ shown below] and the Deva in the Hindagala fresco. The presence of the standing Lamp on fire-altar, however, conforms Elliot’s opinion.

Codrington has not included the ancient coins with Railed swastika on the reverse but having the Seated and Standing figure. So if they are relevant and those reader are interested, I am including the diagrams of these for their information.

Fair numbers of Intaglios and Seals other than those mentioned by Codrington with seated figure etc has been found in the country subsequently , these need be included here.

STANDING FIGURE.- THE LONG TRADITION OF A STANDING FIGURE ON LOTUS STALK ON SRI LANKAN COINS FROM 200 BC

The seated figure on lotus is found on Indian coins and the Standing Figure bathed by two Elephants is also a common symbol on Indian coins. But Sri Lanka too had a history of standing figure on lotus with stalks extending on either side. The study of symbolism and their arrangement on ancient coins of Sri Lanka is vital before we judge to any conclusion.

Standing Figures of Sri Lankan Coins.

The Mint-master of SriLanka used the standing figure and Seated figures in early Coins. The Figure of the the circular Ceylon Type stands on a Lotus Stalk , as the standing figure on the thousands of Maya-devi Coins [ Lakhsmi Plaques] found in the Island. There is a standing male figure on the coins described by H Parker in Ancient Ceylon and these rectangular pieces with the Railed Swastika on the Reverse.

The figure of Male[ left] and a Female bathed by two elephants[ Right]. Both have a Railed Swastika on reverse

The Lady bathed by two elephants, dated by the layer in which they were found at Anuradhapura excavations.The reverse is a railed Swastika.

SEATED FIGURE.

An Intaglio impression found  in Ruhuna, South Sri Lanka, having a seated figure similar to that on reverse of Gold coin.

Seated Figure at Nalanda Gedige

The Seated figure too had a precedence in Sri Lanka in the Seated Mayadevi Coin.

The seated Maya devi bathed by two elephants signifies the most celebrated event of Buddhas in Sri Lanka – his birth, this is shown on a lintel at the Dalada maligawa at Yapahuwa and as the centre piece of the Makara over the Buddha Statue at Isuruminiya at Anuradhapura. It is depicted on the gateways at Sanchi Vihare India to mark the same event.

Maya Devi bathing in the Lotus pond at Lumbini prior to the birth of the Buddha.At Dalada Mandiraya _Yapahuva.

THE DATING OF THE DIFFERENT ISSUES OF CEYLON TYPE BY THE NAGARI SCRIPT.

In these coins may be the earliest representation of the name of the Island as  Sri Lanka.There was a doubt created by a question  to reading of  Sri Lanka been placed on coin which may have been for trade of the Indian Ocean, when the Island was known to  seafarers of the ocean by different names such as Ptolemy’s in 1 Cent AD  as Salike and her inhabitants as Salai, the Chinese called it Sen-kia-la, Iban Bututa in 14 Cent as Silavan, To Arabs it was Serendib, Singabid and Sisla all this sound like accents of the speech of the different  people for Sinhale or Simhala which was used by the early Sinhalese writers in the earliest of the Pali works. The tamils too in south India  called the Island  is their accent as ilam.

The term Lanka was too used in the Ramavanaya, Lanka pura etc- but this may be another land in India. But the Mahawansa mentions Lanka  over Forty times and Dipavansa uses it  33 times.A early Sanskrit inscriptions at Buddhagaya used  lanka by a monk named Mahanama to denote his roots..
Any way the Kings would have placed the name as was known to the people or what term was official in the Royal Courts.Was it Lanka or Simhala?. If they stuck to Simhala-dipa them we would have had the term Sri-Simhala-Dipa in the 20 Cent AD, for our beautiful Island.The lighter side is What Racist we would have been, this would have been brought up at Geneva despite the Jayalalitha calling us a miss – pronunciation of Simhala.
According to evidence so far found the word for the Island  ” Sri Lanka “was placed on coins  and proudly marketed to the world, even  before the the Kings who issued these gold coins made it known to the world and the posterity on rock inscription, where they   introduced then selves  in medieval   sinhalaof that period    Lak-div-poloyon-parapuren himi

‘….the great king Siri Sanga-bo, descended from the Okkaka dynasty, the pinnacle of the Ksatriya race and the lord, by lineal succession of kings of the Island of Lanka

and born in the womb of the anointed queen …….. of equal birth and decent………….

deviating from the the subject, the  Sri vatsa and the Sanka [ or Sanda– crescent moon] and the Bo-ankula are so placed on many coins on the obverse . These sound very much like Sri Sanga Bo the virudu name used by alternate kings.
The Sri Vatsa was an essential requirement on all coins of over 50 types, 1 % chance it  may represent the anointed  mother queen or a Sujata born the ksatriya princess womb for at least 7 past generations.The same belief of the birth of Buddha, where some believe that Mayadevi was an equivalent of  Sri devi or the female Shakti behind the the births of all gods and  in this case Prince Siddhartha.[ a re-incanation of Vishnu a Hidhu belief, not so by Lankan buddhists] to use a symbol- Sri been bathed by two elephants  to depict the birth of the Buddha on gateway at Sanchi as well as on coins.

Some times I wonder if the symbols and design on coins is conveying  the same message of the majesty  of the kings born from the womb of Sujata’s , as  that is spelled out on most inscription of king’s during  the issue of these coin typefrom 8-11 Cent AD.

Perhaps a clue is in few bronze symbols found in Bunnahapol Garbhapatra, where the lady on Lotus bathed by two elephants is replaced by Sri Vatsa on Lotus.elephantsoncoins

The “Ceylon type” appears on the coins of the Sinhalese, the Cola, and the Pandyan dynasties. The existing theories are that the (1) “Lankesvara ” [ The legend was read by the British Scholars in the 19 Cent AD]coins are of the same period as the copper of Parakramabahu I, and (2) both were imitated from issues of the Cola king Rajaraja I, A.D. 985-1012, who conquered the north;of Ceylon and initiated the type. But it is to be observed that-

(a) The letters of the legend on the ” Lankesvara” [ now read as Sri La Ka Vi Ha]differ very considerably from those on the issues of Parakrama Bahu and also from those on the coins of Rajaraja. The letters on both of these are of the usual late Nagari type, the head of each being elongated into a line ; those on the Sinhalese gold.

Other than the coins of Vijaya Bahu, have much shorter, almost wedge-shaped, heads, and in the case of the Lakshmi piece the open m. The Ceylon inscription most closely resembling these is the Jetavanrama slab (EZ ,I No1), which has been assigned to the first half-of the ninth century.

Jetavana Inscription- Notice the Double Lotus similar to that on Type II coin shown above.Few Nagari letters on Jetavana Inscription found on Ceylon Type Coins.

Few Akshara or letters in Nagari from above Inscription found on Ceylon type coins

On epigraphic grounds the gold kahavanu of Type I dates at the earliest from the commencement of the tenth or the last years of the preceding century [The date may be 7 or 8 Cent AD], and is thus anterior to the time of Rajaraja I.

Progressive deterioration of the “Celyon Type”

(b)A progressive deterioration of the “Celyon Type” is to be traced ; this is noticeable in the treatment of the head as well as the increasing rigidity of the body and legs, and of the flowing lines of the dhoti. On the reverse the left leg of the sitting figure is at first shown at right angles to the body in the natural position ; it gradually becomes lower, until, in the coins of Parakrama Bahu and his successors, it is practically in a line with the body.

There is gradual Changes on the obverse which Codrington has not mentioned,which need investigations.

This debasement of the design begins in the Sinhalese series with the gold kahavanu of type I, and continues until type III C, the nearest approach to the coins of Rajaraja I of which it appears to be the prototype, v (c) ; the, Cola issue has even copied the irregular position of the legend on the Sinhalese coin, on which the two letters on the right are higher than those on the left. The deterioration ceases for the moment on the coins of Rajadhiraja and Rajendradeva, but re-commences with those of Vijaya Bahu I His type I is much closer to the Cola pieces both in the design and in the lettering, especially in the Sri, but the workmanship falls on in the course of his long reign, and under Parakrama Bahu I and his successors the human figure is still more degraded. The perversion of the type proceeds further under the late Colas and finally ends in a mere collection of lines and dots on the Vira raya fanams; the human form is still just traceable in the first copper issue of the Dutch at Negapatam.

(c) The sequence indicated in (D) involves a cessation of the minting of gold.l The majority of the issues of Vijaya Bahu I are of silver, or of gold so debased as to be hardly distinguishable from silver :the coinage of Parakrama Bahu I and his successors consists entirely of base metal, sometimes washed with silver. A similar change seems to have taken place at the same time in the southernmost parts of India, the ” Ceylon type ” issues of Rajaraja I being usually of fairly good gold, those of Rdjadhiraja of very base gold, or rather of silver washed with gold, while in the thirteenth century the Cola kasu had so fallen in value that one hundred went to a fanam (A.R.E., 439 of 1913) ; it was, therefore, of copper, and presumably the “new kasu,” which appears in the inscriptions of Kulottunga Cola III a late contemporary of Parakrama Bahu I.

I have used ” gold ” as the apparent metal of the coins. The subjoined table of specific gravities shows how little gold there is in many, the coins of Rajaraja, Rajadhiraja, and Vijaya Bahu being practically of silver washed with gold These probably were issued officially as gold, but cannot have been current among the merchants and money changers for anything but silver, with the result that a new fraud was attempted by washing base metal with silver ; it seems probable that all the white metal coins were so treated in the fourteenth century The word masuran was applied to copper. The state of the Ceylon currency is curiously reminiscent of that of the bankrupt Roman empire in the third century.

Specific Gravity of Gold, 19.26 ; of Silver, 10.47 ; of Copper, 8.79

Symbols on Rn Kalan

(d) As has been seen above, the coin called in Tamil llak-kasu or “Ceylon kasu ” was current in the Island in the seventh to eighth century, It is also mentioned in South Indian Cola inscriptions of the thirtieth year of Madiraikondon Parakesarivarman or Parantaka I (A.D. 907-953), of the second,fifth, and fifteenth of Rajakesrivarman, and of the fifth of Parakesarivarman (A.R.E., 435 of 1904,239 of 1907,236 of 1911,330 of 1910, 45 of 1910), all of whom reigned before Rajaraja I. Sinhalese gold kahavanu of type III B were at one time fairly common in the Madura District, and, as the old tamil kasu was of gold, it is probable that the Ilak-kasu was the kahavanu or its half. If this be the case, type III-B and C must date from the tenth century at the latest. The introduction of the coin into the Cola dominions perhaps may be subsequent to the invasion of theIsland by Parantaka I, but there was always a close connection between Ceylon and the Pandyan country In the tenth century the Ilak-kasu was worth 7 ½ puttakkam or ” new akkarns ” in the neighbourhood of Madura (insr. 33 Parrantaka, S.I.I., III, Pt, 3, p. 106. In the Tanjore District forty equalled twenty kalanju’s of gold (A.R.E., No. 25 of 1895, as now read). This equation may be due with or to the half kahavanuva being reckoned as the unit, as tentatively suggested in Chapter V, section 12, or to the standard fineness of gold bullion as current in the Cola country being twice as good as that of the kahavanu of the period.

(e) The weight standard in common use in the Deccan for the gold coinage of the Calukya and other dynasties before Rajaraja was that of the light gadyana, varying from 58 to 63 grains, the one-tenth of which is the fanam. It is to this that the few early mediaeval gold coins of the extreme south appear to conform, the Uttama Cola (C.S.I., No, 151) weighing between 50 and 60 grains; this last was certainly struck by a predecessor of Rajaraja, in whose reign the heavier coin of about 68 grain appears The new standard, that of the Ceylon kalanda, was followed by the Cola silver coinage, as is proved by a coin in the British Museum, identical with Elliot’s No. 153, weighing 66 grains, To sum up, the kahavanuva is the prototype of the Rajaraja issues, and consequently is much anterior to the time of Parakrama Bahu I.

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3 thoughts on “GOLD COINS OF SRI LANKA-DESIGN,NAME OF COUNTRY AND VALUE

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