One of the largest and most populous countries, India is a peninsula surrounded by the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. It gives its name to the ocean located in the south. Civilizations and religions have existed here dating back several thousand years, and it is likely that the coins of India appeared here independently of Asia Minor or China, although they very quickly fell under Greek influence. The country of contrasts and its monetary business will be discussed further.
Some of India’s first banknotes were gold discs with a hole in the center, which served as decorations at the same time, and the leaders of Karnataka in the 2nd century AD. e. minted lead coins. Indian coinage developed in a special way – on pieces of silver or copper, often square or rectangular, with a flat surface, various symbols or marks were applied on both sides with punches.
In the period 600-300 BC. e. many small states began to issue their own coins, corresponding in weight and style to the Greek counterparts of the same period. From the IV century BC. e. (if not earlier) square and round banknotes with similar symbols were minted from copper. Thanks to the finds of treasures, it can now be argued that these coins circulated throughout India.
The empire created by Alexander the Great reached the Indus River. The provinces of Parthia and Bactria (now the territory of Iran) had a great influence on the development of Indian coinage, which is reflected both on the copper coins of numerous small countries, and on small silver hemi drachms with rich mythological symbols. In the II century BC. e. Bactrian Greeks invaded Northwest India, where they minted many portrait banknotes. Greek legends gradually gave way to Prakrit or became heavily distorted,
and the gods of classical Greece were replaced by Indian deities, reflecting the rise of the Indo-Scythian kingdoms and the great Kushan Empire that flourished in the northwest from the 1st century AD. e. Her coins were clearly influenced by Roman designs. Numerous gold and copper coins of the Kushans carried legends in Persian, but written in broken Greek form. The portraits of the rulers alternated with images of the deities of all the religions of the period,
in a style that lasted over 1000 years. Many different types of coins existed in different parts of India. In Western India, satraps of Persian origin, who ruled from the 1st century BC. e., issued a huge number of silver coins with busts of the ruler. This style of coins persisted until the end of the 4th century, during the reign of Rudrasimha III, the last satrap of Western India. The Western satraps were overthrown by the Guptas, who began to imitate the silver coinage of their predecessors.
The Guptas originated from East India and spread north. Their coins were elegant and often imitated Kushan designs, especially those of Chandragupta of the Lakshmi Lion-Slayer type. The White Huns coexisted alongside the Guptas and other Indian civilizations of the 6th century, but issued coins after the Kushan, Sassanid and Gupta patterns. Later dynasties in the same region minted gold coins, usually bearing the emblems of the dynasties,
such as the Malabar elephant or the boar, revered by the Chilufya’s of the Deccan, who also issued punch-printed gold pagodas in the 11th and 12th centuries. The Cholla dynasty minted coins with a standing figure of the ruler on the obverse and the same figure, but seated, on the reverse – a style that was actively copied. The coinage of South and East India fell into decline, although the kingdoms close to Bombay continued to mint coins for some time. A popular motif for the Kalahari gold from Tripuri was the seated Lakshmi.
THE MUGHUL EMPIRE
Islam entered Northwest India in the 8th century, but, with the exception of a small number of coins minted in the region of the modern India-Pakistan border, Muslim influence on the coinage of India became noticeable only after the conquest of Mahmud Ghazi in the 11th century. Punjab. In 1193, Mohamed Gyor captured North India and founded an Islamic dynasty that ruled until 1399, when Tamerlane captured Delhi. He created the Great Mughal Empire,
which stretched from the Mediterranean to the Ganges. When it collapsed, the Mughals built an empire that at first occupied most of modern Afghanistan, but gradually spread to all of India. The coins of the first Mughal rulers Babur and Huma Yun fully corresponded to the samples issued in Central Asia. Already their followers began to use new design, size and weight.
This is especially true of Jahangir, whose gold coins are famous for artistic calligraphy and poetic inscriptions. Gold in the 15th–16th centuries in. minted irregularly. Brief experiments were made with brass coins, but they preferred a low-grade billon. Under Sher Khan (1539–1545), high-grade silver coins were plentifully minted.