Sources of Ancient Indian History: Part-VI: Samudragupta Playing Veena

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South Indian Coins

  • Punch-marked coins

  • identified as dynastic issues on the basis of their symbols.


  • coins found in a hoard at Bodinaikkanur near Madurai had a double carp fish- the symbol of the Pandya kings.

  • legend Valuti - Pandyas.

  • Silver coins found in Krishna riverbed (Karur) - the portrait of a Chera king, the legends Makkotai

  • Coins with the legends Kuttuvan Kotai and Kollipurai and symbols of bow and arrow and the double fish and tiger have been in large numbers from South India.

Gupta Coins

  • Gupta kings issued well-executed die-struck gold coins with metrical legends in Sanskrit.

  • Known as dinars, these coins have been mostly found in north India.

  • The obverse depicts the reigning king in various poses, usually martial ones, but there are interesting instances of coins of Samudragupta and Kumargupta I show them playing the vina.

  • The reverse of the Gupta coins have religious symbols indicating the king’s religious affiliations.

  • There was a decline in the metallic purity of gold coins in the later part of Skandagupta’s reign.

  • The Gupta also issued silver coins, but their copper coins are rare.

Samudragupta Playing Veena

Samudragupta playing veena

Samudragupta Playing Veena

Post- Satavahanas

  • In the eastern Deccan, the Ikshvakus of the lower Krishna valley (3rd- 4th centuries) issued lead coins.

  • Shalankayana dynasty (early 4th- mid 5th centuries) and the Vishnukundins (mid-5th - mid-7th ) – copper coins

  • Coins of the Traikutakas (3rd- 4th centuries) circulated in the western Deccan and silver issues of the early Kalachuris (6th century) in the Maharashtra area.

Lead Coins of Ikshvakus from the Lower Krishna Valley

Lead Coins of Ikshvakus

Lead Coins of Ikshvakus

Gurjara- Prathihara Coins

  • In the Ganga valley, bullion coins circulated in the Gurjara- Pratihara kingdom.

  • Copper coins were minted by the Arab governors of Sindh between the mid-8th -9th centuries.

  • In Kashmir, copper coins were supplemented by bills of exchange (hundikas).

  • Kings of Bengal such as Shashanka - gold coins.

  • Pala and Sena dynasties – no coins

  • A number of silver coins known as Hariketa coins were circulating in Bengal between the 7th and 13th centuries.

Silver Coin of Gurjara-Prathihara

Silver Coin of Gurjara-Prathihara

Silver Coin of Gurjara-Prathihara


  • The Chalukyas of Badami- some early medieval coin

  • Eastern Chalukyas- gold and silver coins found in the Andra region

  • There was a subsequent gap of about three centuries till the end of the 10th centuries, when there was a revival of gold and copper coinage under the later kings of this dynasty.

  • The attribution of certain gold and silver coins to the Chalukyas of Kalyana (8th- 12th ) and to the Kalachuri Rajputs remains uncertain.

  • Coins issued by the Kadambas of Goa (11th- 12th centuries).

  • Shilaharas of the western Deccan (11th century) – gold coins

Pallavas and Chola Coins

  • Pallavas issued coins with lion and bull motifs.

  • The seals of several Chola copper plate inscriptions show the tiger, fish (the Pandyas emblem), and bow (the Cheras emblem), indicating that the Cholas had achieved political supremacy over these two dynasties. The appearance of these three emblems on many gold, silver, and copper coins suggests that these were Chola issues.

  • Tiger crest - emblem on Chola coins.

  • Gold coins found at Kavilayadavalli in the Nellore district of Andra Pradesh have the motifs of the tiger, bow, and some indistinct marks. The obverse has the Tamil legend sung which seems to be a short form of sungandavirttarulina (abolisher of tolls), one of the titles of the Chola king Kulottunga I. The legends on the reserve—either Kanchi or Ne (maybe short for Nellur)- may indicate names of mint towns.

  • The last phase of Chola rule is only represented by copper coins.

Copper Pallava Coin

Copper Pallava Coin

Copper Pallava Coin

Cowries in Early Medieval India

  • At Sohepur in Orissa, 25,000 cowries + 27 Kalachuri coins.

  • At Bhaundri village in Lucknow, 54 Pratihara + 9,834 cowries.

  • Cowries used either for small-scale transactions or where coins of small denominational value were in short supply.

  • The market value of cowries fluctuated, depending on demand and supply.


1. The coins found in a hoard at Bodinaikkanur near Madurai have been associated with whom?

  1. Cheras

  2. Cholas

  3. Pandayas

  4. Guptas

Ans. C

Explanation: coins found in a hoard at Bodinaikkanur near Madurai had a double carp fish which is the symbol of the Pandya kings.

2. Which of the following rulers have been depicted as playing veena in the coins?

  1. Samudragupta

  2. Chandragupta

  3. Kumargupta I

  4. Buddhagupta

Choose the Correct Option:

  1. A and B

  2. A and C

  3. C and D

  4. D and A

Ans. II










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