THE TYPE I – SRI LANKAN GOLD COINS.

The ancient Sinhalese used their Astamangala Symbols often mentioned in their ancient text, on all their art forms, in a well recognised scheme, in most cases each object occupying a specific direction and location.  The placement of symbols on gold coins of Sri lanka is the only scheme so far known, other than the arrangement of symbol on the large Multi – symbol Elephant and Railed Swastika by Dr DPE Hettiarachchi [Royal Asaitic Society felicitation Journal]. The Gold coins as described by Dr S Paranavitane in his book “Story of Sigiriya” is

“The Obverse have a   Kuvera[ Means one with ugly body as found on coins] imitating a form of a king, in standing attitude,the left arm should be bent at right angles and placed on waist.Right arm outstretched and on the palm of the hand  should be placed a Vase filled with precious things[ Vasu -purna-kumbham]. On the reverse face an Seated image of Nidhi of Kuvera hovering over a treasure deposit[ a symbol of Store House[A rectangular enclosure with number of compartments by lines drawn lenght-wise and cross-wise]The left hand of the Nidhi extended and held up from.elbow, and on the palm should  be placed an object expressing the name of the nindhi [ The nindhi are[? ]. The right arm should be placed over the right knee. In front of the Nindhi should be given the regulated value of the gold coin in letters which can be read by the majority of the Merchants.For the benefit of the the Merchants who are unable to read those letters, the regulated value should be given in Symbols in front of the Kuvera figure.
The regulated value should be Viha is  word in current Sinhala language is the meaning twenty. It should be taken as indicating Twenty Silver kahapanas or Twenty Aka, each of two kahapanas.[ S.P note-The actual aka coin is one eight of of a kahapana, whether the Kahapana was taken as sixteen or twenty masakas?.].
The Five symbols by the side of the can be taken as five ciphers.  A cipher  taken as a symbol for women’s breasts in Sindhu script  Meaning Milk which is Pana or Pala. Given fives times is Pala- Panca i.e Five quarters . Pala-panca developed into to kalanda in Sinhala.

On the two sides of the of standing Kuvera should be two tree symbol. To the right should be a Corn symbol. Kuvea should be standing on a sailing vessel. What is given on either face should be enclosed within a circle of   valuable objects[ Vasu].

The Gold coin shall be comparable to a Credit  note,  is not a credit note, pure and simple  , the credit note has no intrinsic value. Even if The value certified by the credit note is repudiated, the actual value of the gold may be half or a quarter of the value certified. There fore a gold coin should have an acceptability exceeding that on a credit note.”-   Story of Sigiriya.

The design of Gold Coins  is shown  in a very basic and simple presentation below. Please click on link.

A Power-point Presentation of the Kalandas of Gold –   Design on Coins  

KALANDA

Ran Kalan or Kalan Ran in mentioned in many inscription of Kings of late Anuradhapura period. Quite a number of gold coins some in hoards and single finds are recorded from all  parts of Sri Lanka.  A few inscribed Gold Nuggets were discovered during excavations at Abeyagiri. These had the weight inscribed on them is in kalans or kalanda in the same sinhalese langauge in use today , the script too is sinhalese of the 7/8 Cent AD.   THIS CONFIRMS THE WEIGHT OF THE KALANDA OF GOLD. Gold Nuggest Inscribed

The Variation  of Kalandas of Gold.Type I.

Obverse.

Most of regulation of the ‘Story of Sigiriya’ is seen on the coins shown below. Only Four or Three of the five Chipers is shown on Type I  coins. There is a Ada-sanda or Crescent Moon to the right of the face.

Reverse.

Most rules as per the story of Sigiriya is observed. The changes are the number of compartments on the Treasure Enclosure.Are the symbols all Nindhi of Kuvera?. They all seems to fit into the list of auspicious symbols that is common to most civilisations,but are stamped with a  distinct local character which evolved in an independent manner of the ancient  Sinhala Buddhist traditions.

But the rules and regulations seems to have a long history, and go beyond Gold Coins[ 7-11 CentAD]. Some of these characteristics can be traced back methodically to Coin of the very ancient kings. We have many example of  Standing figure and Seated Figures, The Lotus stalk under the Standing Figure, the pedestal for seated figures, the two lamps which on the side of the standing figure  is certainly found on the half Kalandas, the Quarters and Aka of Gold and on the  Dambedeniya series that followed  proves beyond doubt that the arrangement of symbol evolved through the ages and continued up to the present dates.

These Coins more or less follow the rules laid down in the Power Presentation

Type I

Type I B

Type I C

Type I D

Type I E

Type I F

Type I G

Type H

Exceptions to the rules spelled out in Power Point. the main interest of this exercise.

New Type of Sri Vatsa which has no Srivatsa under right hand.

The peculiarity of this coins published by the Archeological Dept   in a leaflet on Kaludiyapokuna  is a very important find. This was one of three kalandas of Gold found. The Srivatsa which is on all Kalanda  is replaced by a Chank over Pot symbol. However a Sri vatsa is found on the reverse in the left hand of the seated figure. It is a swop of symbols from the Chank over Pot Type I  coins.

Story of Sigiriya states “Right arm outstretched and on the palm of the hand  should be placed a Vase filled with precious things[ Vasu -purna-kumbham]”. Here the vase  or pot is topped by a Chank or Sanka.

If you remember we said that Type II coins  has only one Lamp or Dipa[ some call it a tree],on the obverse. But there is a coin with Two Lamps, a smaller Lamp or Dipa to right side of the Coin, but the contains the peculiarities and the Auspicious symbol of the Type II Coins. This coin the standing figure on the obverse, the hand is bent upwards holding a Crescent or Adahanda. The other symbol on the left hand of the seated figure  is a Lotus.

THE NUMBER OF COMPARTMENTS ON THE THRONE.

The numbers differ from 8 to 14, Mr OMR Sirisena has given a possible explanation to this

2 thoughts on “THE TYPE I – SRI LANKAN GOLD COINS.

  1. great… keep it up…

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