The official currency and the only legal tender in the People’s Republic of Bangladesh is the taka. Taka means “money” in Bengali. According to one hypothesis, the word “taka” comes from the word “tankah”, which is available in the Old Bengali language and Sanskrit in the meaning of “coin”. Another version of the origin is that the word “taka” comes from the Turkic – “tamga, tanga, tenge”, meaning “seal”.
The word “tanka”, written in the ancient Brahmi script, was first recorded on the coins of Puri-Kushan of the II-VII centuries. AD Puri-Kushan copper coins were issued in eastern India (modern states of Orissa and Bihar). The largest number of these coins was discovered in the Indian district of Puri (Orissa) in 1895.
The obverse side of the coins depicts a standing human figure with a crescent moon (possibly a lunar deity). On the reverse side – three triangles with the inscription “tanka” under them.
The imperial coin of the tanka (taka) was officially introduced during the monetary reform of the Delhi Sultan Muhammad Shah II ibn Tughlaq in 1329. The tanka was originally established as representative money, a kind of bills or banknotes. The coin was minted from copper and exchanged for gold and silver in the Sultan’s treasury. Over time, tanks began to be minted from silver.
The Bengal Sultanate, the future of Bangladesh, became a real stronghold of tanks (taki). The ancient word “tanka” has been transformed over the centuries into the Bengali “taka”.
In the XIV century, the Bengal Sultanate organized the work of dozens of mints located in the capitals of the provinces. In 1338, the Arab traveler Ibn Battuta noted that people in Bengal called their money “taka” and not “dinar” as in other Muslim countries.
In the middle of the 18th century, the British Crown, first de facto and then de jure, established control over India and, in particular, Bengal. In 1947, after two centuries of struggle, India gained state independence. Bengal was divided into two parts. The territory, where there were more Muslims, went to the British dominion of Pakistan (its eastern part would later become the Republic of Bangladesh). Lands with a predominantly Hindu population went to India. The rupee became the monetary unit of the Dominion of Pakistan.
In everyday life, the population of East Pakistan continued to call the rupee taka. And on the banknotes of the Pakistani rupee, the designation in Bengali was also indicated – taka.
During the 1950s and 1960s, tensions escalated between the central government and East Pakistan. In Bengal, the national liberation movement was expanding, the main driving force of which was the socialist party, the Freedom League. In 1970, powerful cyclones in East Pakistan killed about 500,000 people. The central government was in no hurry to help the affected areas. This caused a sharp discontent of the population, who gave their votes in the elections for the opposition.
The Freedom League won the majority of seats in East Pakistan’s parliament, but the central government refused to hand over power to the leftist opposition in the region. Actions of popular disobedience and mass strikes began. The army was sent to suppress popular uprisings in East Pakistan. The country was engulfed in massacres of the inhabitants. The number of victims of repression reached 3 million people. With the support of India, in March 1971, the independence of East Pakistan was proclaimed. By the end of that year, the West Pakistani army was defeated.
On January 1, 1972, the taka, divided into 100 poishas, became the national currency of Bangladesh. The taka replaced the Pakistani rupee at a 1:1 rate. Bangladeshi banknotes were put into circulation on March 4, 1972. These were denominations 1, 5, 10 and 100 so.
In 1977, 50 taka notes were introduced into circulation, followed by 500 taka (1979) and 20 taka (1982). In 2008, for the first time, a banknote of the highest denomination was printed – 1000 so. In 2000, the government of Bangladesh, following the example of Australia, issued experimental polymer 10-taka banknotes. However, they proved unpopular and were withdrawn from circulation.
Currently, banknotes in denominations of 1 and 5 so are gradually being withdrawn from circulation and replaced by coins. In 2011, the Bank of Bangladesh launched a new series of banknotes in denominations of 2, 5, 100, 500 and 1000 tak. All of them are dated 2011. All banknotes feature a portrait of the first President and Prime Minister of Bangladesh, “Father of the Nation” Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
In 2012, Bangladesh Bank issued new banknotes in denominations of 10, 20 and 50 taka. On the obverse of the banknotes there is a portrait of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and a monument to the People’s Martyrs in Savar. On the back of the banknotes, 10 so depicts the Baitul Mukarram Mosque in Dhaka, 20 so depicts the Shat Gombuj Mosque (60 domes) in Bagerhat, and 50 so depicts the famous painting “Harrowing” by Bangladeshi artist Zeinul Abedin.
The front side features a portrait of the “Father of the Nation” Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Memorial to the People’s Martyrs in Savar, while the reverse side shows six militias. The 60 banknote was issued in this way to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the national liberation movement. It depicts the Shahid Minar (monument to the martyrs) in Dhaka and portraits of five folk heroes on the back.