Numismatics - Gupta Coins

Topics: Gupta Empire, Chandragupta II, Coin Pages: 11 (4185 words) Published: February 10, 2010
The story of coins is interwoven with the history of mankind. To trace its story, one has to look back to the remote past. When people settled in localities and the communities grew in size, the exchange of products became a necessity; then the mutual exchange of things took the shape of trade and the system of barter was evolved. In course of time, certain commodities got preference over others and a higher value was attached to them. They assumed the character of a medium of exchange and got a standard by which the value of other things was estimated. Thus emerged the notion of the unit of value. This was the first step towards the evolution of coinage. The reconstruction of ancient Indian history necessitates the importance of archaeological evidences of a particular period. Amongst the various archaeological sources the numismatical evidences are of prime importance. ‘Numismatics’ is generally known as ‘the study of old coins’ which are used for the reconstruction of ancient Indian history. The reign of the Guptas in Indian history is a fascinating one. As a matter of fact, it saw a prosperous and plentiful life. Towards the beginning of the 4th century A.D., the dynasty of the Gupta emperors rose out of a small principality, situated somewhere in Eastern Uttar Pradesh or Bihar; and it lasted for more than two centuries. The founder of the dynasty was Sri Gupta. It was the most renowned, prosperous, ever progressing and self sufficient dynasty in ancient Indian history. This dynasty produced emperors of class who not only expanded and consolidated the political power of India but also administered excellent economic and administrative techniques which led to happy social living during their reign. As compared to the empire of the Mauryas, the Gupta empire was less extensive, but more enduring than that of the Mauryas. This period of the Guptas is known as ‘the classical age of Indian history’ because this period witnessed the growth of arts and sciences in all the conceivable branches of learning. Almost all Gupta rulers issued their own coins. The coins of the Gupta rulers are very useful for the reconstruction of their history. Features of the Gupta Coins

The Gupta coins had certain remarkable features; which were originally an idea of the Guptas themselves. These features were more or less similar throughout the rule of different Gupta emperors. The coins are classified into 4 groups:- Gupta gold coins

Gupta silver coins
Gupta copper coins
Gupta lead coins
The Gupta emperor chiefly issued gold coins. They issued them in such a large number that a contemporary poet has rightly termed the phenomenon as “_a reign of gold_”. The earlier gold coins of the Guptas were deeply influenced by the coinage of the later Kushanas. But the later Gupta coinage show more superiority in their execution, and they are considerably original in their style. The influence of the Kushana coins on the early coins of the Guptas is seen especially in their dress and posture as depicted on their coins. For e.g. the early coins of the Guptas show the standing king at the altar. This is very much similar in pose and posture of the kings as shown of the Kushana coins. The king on these coins is seen wearing the Kushana long coat and trouser of the Kushana pattern or replace by Indian dhoti and form was changed as the king is shown bare- bodied. The Guptas retained the method of placing the name of the king perpendicularly in Chinese fashion on the left hand. They placed the circular Brahmi inscription around the king. On the reverse side of the early coins of the Gupta rulers, Greek goddess Ardokshowas retained. Gradually, this pattern was changed, and Lakshmi, an Indian goddess with a lotus in her hand is depicted on the coin. On some coins she is shown seated on a throne and on some others seated on a lotus. The archer type coins of the Guptas are the most commonly issued coins by...

Bibliography:  Samel, Elements of Archaeology, Museology & Library Sciences, Manan Prakashan, Mumbai, 2007
 Parmeshwari Lal Gupta, Coins, National Book trust, India, 1969
 A.S.Altekar, Coinage of the Gupta Empire, Numismatics Society of India, India.
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