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.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Story of Indian Money XV - Islamic States of Dehli Sultanate & their Coinage c. 1192 - 1555 A.D.

Mahmud Ghazni (r. 998-1030) began raiding the Indian territories on a regular basis between 1001 and 1021 A.D. and established a Ghaznavid province in Punjab consistent with his Afghan territories in 1028 A.D. He issued coins with the Kalima (Islamic expression of faith) inscribed in Arabic with the title ‘Leader of the faithful’ on the obverse. His Indian coins have reverse inscriptions stating ‘dinara struck for cities captured during the Holy War with India’. One Silver Dinara issued by Mahmud in 1028 A.D. from Mahmudpur (Lahore) has a unique bilingual legend with the Kalima in Arabic on the obverse and its translation in Sanskrit on the reverse! 

Mahmud’s successors adopted the ‘Bull-and-Horseman’ type modifying it into a ‘Bull-and-legend’ type with the name of the ruler in Kufic Arabic script. 
The Ghaznavids were deposed by Ghorids in Ghazni and finally evicted from Lahore by the Ghorid brothers, Ghiyath-uddin and Muizz-uddin in 1186 A.D. Muizzuddin or Muhammad Ghori (known as Muhammad bin Sam on his coins) succeeded in laying down the foundations of the Dehli Sultanate by defeating Prithviraj Chauhan at the Battle of Tarrain in 1192 A.D.
Muhammad bin Sam copied the ‘Bull-and-Horseman’ coin called Dehliwalas with either side devoted to Arabic inscriptions and issued them in billon and copper. Muhammad  also copied the Lakshmi type gold coin when he captured Kashi from Jayachandra, the famed rival of Prithviraj Chauhan, with the Nagari legend ‘Sri Mahamada bini saam’! In Bengal, his general Bakhthiyar Khilji initiated a new gold prototype with the obverse image of a charging Turkish horseman with a mace and the Nagari legend ‘Gaud Vijaye’ and a reverse Arabic inscription with Muhammad’s titles.
Muhammad was succeeded by his slave general Qutb-uddin Aibak (r. 1206-1210); however, no coins are found in his name or his immediate successor, Aram Shah. 
Aibak’s ultimate successor, his manumitted slave, Shams-uddin Illtutmish (r.1211-1236) reintroduced the Islamic coins with Kalima as silver tankas while continuing the copper and billon Dehliwalas. The most important feature of these ‘Islamic’ coins was the total abhorrence of images and the use of exact date and place of issue. 
Illtutmish also began the trend of invoking the Abbasid Caliph on his coins to ensure his religious sanction. This trend was continued by all his successors; notably Rukn-uddin Firoz his son (r.1236) Jalalat Raziya his daughter and the first woman to ascend the Dehli throne (r.1236-1240). 
The Dehli Sultanate's 'Slave Dynasty' continued under Illtutmish’s clan till 1266 when the last ruler, Nasir-uddin Mahmud was replaced by Balban, the Chancellor of the Sultanate. 
Balban was succeeded by his grandson, Qaiqubad who was replaced by his minor son, Kayumarth. 
The dynasty was finally replaced by a rank outsider, Jalal-uddin Firuz Khilji (1290-1296); Firuz and his successor, Rukn-uddin Ibrahim (r.1296) continued the coinage of the previous regime. 
However, Ibrahim was soon deposed by Firuz’s ambitious nephew, Ala-uddin Muhammad Khilji (r.1296-1316) who soon embarked with his army to capture riches from Deogiri, Malwa, Gujarat and Rajasthan; he also captured rich booty from Warangal and Dwarasamudra through his general, Malik Kafur. Ala-uddin and his successor Qutb-uddin Mubarak issued heavy gold and silver coins. 
Ala-uddin issued his coins with the haughty title ‘the second Alexander, the right hand of the Caliph’ while Qutb-uddin used the arrogant title ‘the supreme head of the faith, the Caliph, Lord of heavens and earth’ in Arabic.

 Qutb-uddin was replaced by Ghiyath-uddin Tughluq (r.1320-1325) who continued the Khilji coinage. However, his successor, Muhammad bin Tughluq (r.1325-1351) ushered in an era of unsurpassed numismatic glory by producing numerous types of gold coins with fine Islamic calligraphy. He also increased the weight of his coins after his South Indian campaigns.
However, his greatest numismatic achievement was his attempt to introduce ‘token currency’ in 1329 A.D. when he attempted to replace silver and billon coins with a token equivalent in copper validated by the state! He engraved "He who obeys the Sultan obeys the Compassionate" to scare and fascinate people into accepting the new system. 
However, the coins were forged by locals causing a collapse in the system till the Sultan agreed to replace the copper coins with actual silver ones causing a heavy drain on the exchequer. Muhammad also issued a variety of coins with religious legends including the name of the first four caliphs; he also revived the use of Kalima on his coins. Muhammad faced local revolts towards the end of his rule with the founding of Bahmani Sultanate in Deccan in 1347 A.D. which issued its own coinage.  
Muhammad’s successor, Firuz Shah Tughluq (r.1351-1388) issued some coins with the name of the ruling Caliphs but had to sanction the use of billon coins due to the reduced revenues during his reign.
Firuz’s successors witnessed the formation of local Sultanates in Gujarat (1391), Jaunpur (1394) and Malwa (1392). 
However, the greatest disaster was the invasion by Timur’s army in 1398 A.D. which reduced the Sultanate’s domains to the outskirts of Delhi. Mahmud, the last Tugluq ruler died in 1414 A.D. inviting counterclaims from two powers; Daulat Khan Lodhi the governor of the Doab region and Khizr Khan Sayyid.
Khizr Khan succeeded in the power struggle leading to the founding of the Sayyyid dynasty. 
The Sayyids refrained from issuing coins initially but the second ruler Mubarak Shah issued a novel coinage followed by his nephew Muhammad who preferred the Tughluq standard in billon. Alam Shah, the last ruler issued fewer coins and gave way to Bahlol Lodhi in 1451.
Bahlol Lodhi retained only copper and billon coins with a new formula of issuing coins extolling the virtues of the ruler on both sides and seeking divine blessings for his rule; this type was preferred by his successors, Sikandar and Ibrahim.
Ibrahim Lodhi was killed in 1526 A.D. in the first battle of Panipat by Zahir-uddin Muhammad Babur, the exiled ruler of Farghana who claimed descent from both Timur and Genghis Khan laying the foundations of the Mughal Empire.

Silver Tanka of Mahmud of Ghazni with Kalima in Arabic and Sharada Script

Gold Tanka of Muiz-ud-din Muhammad bin Sam issued jointly with his brother Ghiyath-ud-din
Add caption
Silver Tanka of Illtutmish in name of Caliph al-Mustansir

Add caption
Gold Tanka of Ala-ud-din Khalji with title 'Sikandar Sani' 'Second Alexander

Copper 'Token' Tanka of Muhammad bin Tughluq with legend 'Man ata Sultan faqd ata-ur-Rahaman' 'If I obey the Sultan, I obey God'