Knowing the history of coins reveals mush about the period during which they were issued. Coins of the medieval period give us wonderful insights about the history of different dynasties. From coins issued in times of Delhi Sultanate to coins of Mughal India, opportunities are galore. Medieval period coins not only gives us wonderful insights about the history of the time but also about the different types of Calendar Systems that were followed in those days. They differ a lot from the coins of ancient times. The difference between the coins used in the ancient times versus the medieval times is that the coins of ancient times featured a profile face with a Sanskrit text while medieval period coins showed the full face on the obverse side with khutba inscribed on the reverse side. Typically, it was some sort of Islamic symbol on the reverse side. History of coins in India will remain incomplete without the mention of medieval period coins. Let's take you to the tour of Coinage system of Medieval India:Coins in Islamic RuleSlave Dynasty:
The Slave Dynasty introduced a new form of monetary System in India that extended till later years. A coin was introduced that weighted 11.6 gms of Silver or Gold. These medieval period coins were termed as Tanka,that represented the weight in Indian native language called Tola. Mughal empire:
Although Mughal empire was established after the defeat of Delhi Sultanate, it was during the reign of Babur that the coin system was actually established.
The coins issued under Babur’s rule were called “Shah Rukh”, which were made of 72 grain silver. One side of the coin contained the name of the king along with his title and date. Initially round in shape they were later converted to square shaped coins. Apart from Silver, gold and copper coins were also issued. Jehangir, was extremely interested in developing a strong line of coinage, and also passed orders that no coins would be formally introduced without his formal consent.
Many coins of medieval India during his reign bore name of Prince Salim. The coins issued during this period carried `Kalima` on one side and `Nuruddin Muhammad Jahangir Badshah Ghazi` on the flip side of the coin. The coinage of Shah Jahan’s reign had the `Kalima` and the mint`s name on one side and his name and title `Sahib-qiran Sani Shihabuddin Muhammad Shah Jahan Badshah Ghazi` on the other. One side of the margin contained the titles while the other side contained the name of Khalifs.
During the reign of Aurengzeb, his name and title `Abu-al-zafar Muiuddin Muhammad Bahadur Shah Alamgir Aurangzeb Badshah Ghazi` was present on obverse side of the coin. Due to the rise in the metal price at that time, the size of the issued coins was reduced to that of a “Dam”. While during the reign of Akbar and Jehangir, the places issuing the coins were limited, the number was larger in Aurengzeb’s era. Khilji Dynasty:
Different rulers of Khilji Dynasty issued and introduced new form of monetary
system that included heavy and voluminous coins. These heavy weight gold and silver coins were called “Tankah”. These coins were occasionally given to ambassadors, diplomatic agents and other distinguished persons as complimentary gifts or souvenirs of imperial favor and magnanimity.
Aluddin Khilji made a major change in the pattern of appearance of the coins, which included dropping Khalifa from the observing side of the coin. Alauddin Khilji introduced another type of coin where his name and title were divided on the two sides of the coins. This type was followed by his successors.Delhi Sultanate:
When Ghoris established their reign in Lahore, they started the “Bull Hoarsemen” type of coins. The ruler got the picture of Goddess Laxmi inscribed on one side and on the other side imprinted his name. Some coins were patterned in a way that they bore horseman, and some coins had the bull on the one side and an Arabic inscription on the other side. During this time, he also issued some copper coins.Sher Shah Suri:
During the reign of Sher Shah Suri he issued coins in different varieties of metals ranging from silver to Copper. In the silver coins of Sher Shah, there was the trace of `Kalima` and the name of four Khalifas on obverse side of the coin. In some cases, obverse side of the coin contained his name and a pious wish: `Khald Allah mulk` The name of the mint and date along with the king`s name in Nagari letters were inscribed on the reverse side of the coin. The legends were arranged in diverse ways on various coins. Many coins had the name of “Jahapanah” rather than the mint name. Coins of Hunas
A distinctive feature of the coins of Huna Empire is that they inherited the features of the empire they ruled. The coins were decorated with the figure of the king bedecked with a head dress, which was adorned with buffalo head and wings on either side. For making these figures of the kings, they used a special hitting technique. Most of coins were in gold and silver with the names and titles of kings inscribed over it.
Coins in Rajput Dynasty
The Rajput Dynasty consisted of Kshatriyas, who were the warrior community and descendants of Post Gupta Empire. This community was divided into 2 clans with each clan having their own lineage. The fabric of coins of most of these coins that were minted during this time was similar. The general pattern of the coin included the name of the Ruler on one side and the picture of Goddess Laxmi on other side. The text of the coins was written in Devnagiri script. The weight of these gold coins was maintained to be four and half Masha, which is equivalent to 3.6 gms.Coins of Maratha Rulers
The Marathas were the only powerful Hindu Power that rose after the Mughal Empire’s decline. Shivaji and his successors issued coins in Gold and Copper. The language used on the coins was Nagari. The coins bore the name Chhatrapati Shivaji on one side and Sri Raja Siva on the other.
It is believed that the first lot of minting with 7 lakh coins were showered on Shivaji, which later were melted under Aurangzeb’s Government as a response of animosity. Some of the mints where the coins were issued at the time were Bagalkot, Mulher, Chandor, Kolaba, Sangli, Miraj, Panhala, Balwantnagar (Jhansi), Jalaun, Kalpi, Kunch, Balanagar Gadha (Gadha Mandla), Ravishnagar (Sagar)
Coins of Sikh Rulers
The coinage developed during the Sikh Era almost remained uniform during the entire era. There were about 20 mints that used to produce these coins. The Punjabi word for coin “Sikka” is supposed to have been borrowed by Persia. The language used on the coins was Persian and they were initially dedicated to the Sikh Gurus.
Quotes such as the sword of Nanak is the provider; and Guru Govind Singh, the king of kings, is by grace, the lord`, was incised on the obverse of the coin and `Zarb aminuddahar Maswarat-Shahar Zinatultakht Mubarak bakht (coined at the protector, the walled city, the ornament of the blessed throne) was etched on the reverse side of the coin.
Coins of Pandyas
The coins produced under the Pandya period were mainly punch-marked Silver and die-struck copper coins. During some later period, gold coins were also produced that bore the image of a fish, sometimes singly, sometimes in pairs along with symbols like a bow, a conch, and a discus. Kannada and Nagari were the main script languages used for these coins.
Besides the fish emblem on copper coins there were Chola Standing and Chalukya devices that were also inscribed on these coins. Many coins were in square shape and at times attributed to a particular ruler. The coins of the Pandyas, which bore the fish symbols, were termed as `Kodandaraman` and `Kanchi Valangum Perumal`. The Chola standing and the seated king type coins had the titles `Bhutala Ellamthalai`, `Parasurama`, `Kulasekhara`.Coins in Vijayanagar Empire
The coins of Vijayanagar Empire were extremely popular and even set a prototype of generations of coinage. The general pattern of the coin had the Ruler’s picture on one side and his name on another. The script used by these coins was mainly Devanagiri.
Coins of Tripura
Tripura coins have always excited numismatics as they contained the name of the Queen along with the name of King. These coins built under Ratna Manikya era had fixed dates on them, and were totally based on Hindu religious styles. The language used in these coins was mainly Sanskrit.
The inscription of Queen’s name during a particular period of time indicates that the Queen had an upper hand at a particular time. The coins introduced during Mukut Manikya had the inscription of Garuda instead of lion and also had religious inscriptions of Chandi and Narayana. The coins that were produced under Vijay Manikya were used to indicate some commemorations. However, during the last years of political instability in Tripura Empire, the production of coins had reduced.