Friday, July 5, 2013

Story of Indian Money - XVI - Regional Sultanates' Coinage c. 1347-1687 A.D.

The Dehli Sultanate reached its zenith under Muhammad bin Tughluq almost covering the entire Indian sub-continent under him as the South Indian Hindu kingdoms collapsed under sustained campaigns by the Sultanate's cavalry. However, the empire grew too unwieldy and the centre couldn't hold the vast and remote areas. However, another factor which worked against it was Muhammad bin Tughluq's eccentric and cruel nature which alienated his nobility and created the right atmosphere for dissensions both during and after his reign.
Thus, the Bahamani Sultanate and the Madura Sultanate came to be born in his lifetime. The former was born under the patronage of his Deccani nobles who combined forces under a Persian soldier-of-fortune, Zafar Khan who replaced the hesitant leader of the initial rebellion Ismail Shah and ascended the throne as Alauddin Bahaman Shah.  The latter was too short-lived yet has left good numismatic evidence of the same.
Thus began the Bahamani Sultanate with its own coinage majorly in silver and copper of which the latter was more profuse during one hundred and eighty years of existence which saw its fragmentation into five Deccani Sultanates of Ahmadnagar, Berar, Bidar, Bijapur and Golconda.
The coinage of these successor states was as colourful as their chequered history with variation in legends related to their Shiite faith and even adoption of South Indian gold pagodas and Persian larins (hairpin shaped coins with the name of the king originated in Laristan region of Persia) as testimony of their existence. 

After Muhammad bin Tughluq's death more successor states evolved in his Northern and Western territories in the form of Jaunpur in North India, Gujarat, Khandesh and Malwa in Western and Central India respectively.
Even the erstwhile Rajput kingdoms regrouped under Rana Kumbha (d. 1468) and Rana Sanga (d. 1527) later but have left little numismatic evidence.
The successor states of Gujarat, Khandesh and Malwa lasted longer till the rise of the Mughals under Akbar the Great while their coinage evolved on local pattern. Malwa was under the Khaljis evolved its own coinage in the three metals, gold, silver and copper tankas with square shape as the preferred shape and beautiful mint marks as the hallmark of their coinage.
Gujarat on the other hand, developed its own coinage, popularly known as Mahmudis (after Mahmud Begada I, the Great Sultan of Gujarat) which had a longer circulation than the Sultanate due to its forging by later rulers as a defiant gesture to the Mughals!

Bengal Sultanate had its own long history of defiance of the central rule of the Dehli Sultans and had its own history of two hundred and thirty odd years from the period of Illyas Shah (r. 1342-1358) to the Afghan dynasty of Karranis. The Sultanate also had an uninterrupted coinage in silver which was intermittently transmitted to the coffers of the Dehli Sultans or held back for circulation. The coinage from Bengal was the probable inspiration for Illtutmish's silver tanka which became the standard coin of the Slave dynasty.

Kashmir was the only sultanate which did not come under the sway of the Dehli Sultans probably on account of its inaccessible location. It however had its own unique silver coinage called Sasnu (square in shape weighing around 6 grams with a twisted wire border around its legends) ; the Sasnu was complemented by the copper Kaserah (also weighing 5.5 to 6 grams having a line with a central knot between its legends)

Thus, each regional sultanate of the pre-Mughal period tried to lend a unique stamp on the numismatic history of the Indian sub-continent by playing around with metrology, calligraphic styles and shapes of the coins. The coins are a reflection of local calligraphic development as in the case of Jaunpur Sultanate whose sultans preferred the use of Tughra calligraphy a convoluted form of writing style developed in Turkey under the Ottoman Sultans.
The regional sultanates were gradually absorbed into the growing Mughal Empire which engulfed all of them in stages of its own evolution in a period stretching from 1530-31 when Humayun beseiged Malwa and Gujarat and also temporarily took over Bengal till 1686-87 when Aurangzeb engulfed and absorbed the Deccan Sultanates of Bijapur and Golkonda in 1686 and 1687 respectively.

Silver Tanka of Ala-ud-din Bahaman Shah founder of Bahamani dynasty styled  on Ala-ud-din Khalji's tanka  A.H. 758 c.  1357-58 A.D. 

Silver Larin of Ali Adil Shah II 1071 A.H. c. 1660-61 A.D.

Gold Tanka of Jaunpur Sultan Ibrahim Shah with Tughra Calligraphy on obverse

Silver Half Tanka of Mahmud Shah 'Begada' from Muhammadabad Champanir with long drawn out legends

Silver Tanka of Bengal Sultan Fakhr-al-din Mubarak Shah Hazrat Sunargaon  Mint

Silver Sasnu of Hussain Shah of Kashmir Sultanate A.H. 970 c.  1562-63 A.D.

No comments:

Post a Comment