Minting history

Rajender Maru and his son Archie, reason that coins are one of the best proofs of history. “Everything is written on the coin. And 90 per cent of the languages have been deciphered. So, you can unearth the history through coins,” says Archie. The numismatician, who is the director of Marudhar Arts, a firm dealing with numismatic accessories and antique artefacts, has done his masters in the subject from University of Mumbai.

On February 11, Marudhar Arts will hold an exhibition-cum-sale of antique coins in Gallery g. The event will also have a talk by Rajender, who has written South Asian Coins and Paper Money.

“The world of coins is very exciting but still largely unexplored. In India, we haven’t really bothered about it. Akbar issued Ram and Sita coins in silver weighing four grams. The three coins that are there in the world now are all out of India — in New York, Vienna and the Netherlands. Our governments have not tried to get them back. With antique sculptures, they still make some efforts but ancient coins don’t get due attention. The government hasn’t invested in this area. There are no courses and even if there are, how do you study it because to study it you would need access to the collections. The university of Mumbai has shut down its numismatics course,” says Rajender.

It was his father Prem Ratan, who initiated Rajender into the world of coins. Rajender inherited Marudhar Arts from him and expanded it to have e-auctions of coins, and e-store. Rajender describes his collection as vivid. “It changes every few years with our interest in a research area changing. For some time now, we were focusing on British India coins and now it is ancient coins. British India coins have everything written on them so it is easy to decipher. Ancient Indian coins can be decoded only if you understand the symbols and know the script,” chips in Archie.

While ancient Indian coins largely have symbols, the later coins bore inscriptions in Brahmi and Kharoshti. “Symbols were drawn from nature — animals, birds, sky, stars, mountains etc. As rulers changed, symbols also changed,” explains Archie.

But the father-son duo's favourite coins belong to the Sultanate era and Mughal Empire. “Sultanate coins have beautiful Persian calligraphy and they are very large. Jahangir issued a series with all the zodiac signs,” says Rajender. Revealing more information on coins, Archie says, Gupta coins were 100 per cent copy of the Roman coins because their economy was doing so well. “Otherwise gold coins would largely make up the reserve in treasury. For daily transactions, copper and silver coins would be in circulation. Also, the aesthetics of the coins depended on the artistic inclinations of the king. If you see Aurangzeb’s coins, they are just metal pieces. A king who was always at war, had simple coins,” says Archie.

Rajender adds that coins can clear a lot of doubts. “Aurangzeb’s influence can be gauged from the number of mints he had. Through treaties, alliances, pacts, he had coins issued from a number of places. And he had a coin issued from Machilipatnam, which means he had come up till there.”

For the exhibition, Marus will showcase coins from the Travancore region, a rare coin from the Roman era, a few chuckrams from the region. “The coins from this region are particularly rare. You don’t find them easily because of it being on the trade route, the coins would go away to the foreign lands and not in the rest of India due to its distance from there. You only find Chinese coins in Travancore because of it being an important point in the sea trade.”

(Coins From Bygone Realms With Rajender Maru will take place on February 11 at 11 a.m. at Gallery G, Maini Sadan, Lavelle Road, as part of outreach programme of Opulence & Eternity)

Every penny counts

Cowry shells were first believed to be used in India as money.

The first coins in India were minted in the 6th century BC.

They were issued by the Mahajanapadas (16 republic kingdoms).

Termed the Golden era, the Gupta era only had golden coins.

All the three remaining Ram-Sita coins issued by Akbar are outside India.

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Printable version | Jul 24, 2021 5:58:42 PM |

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