Author Topic: Kushan Empire: A Gold Dinar of Kanishka I "The Great"  (Read 580 times)

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Offline mitresh

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Kushan Empire: A Gold Dinar of Kanishka I "The Great"
« on: April 14, 2013, 09:42:05 AM »
Kushan Empire, Kanishka I "The Great", 78-151 AD, Gold Dinar, 7.86g, 20mm

Obv: Kanishka standing, wearing a flat cap, clad in heavy Kushan coat and long boots, sword at waist, flames emanating from shoulders, holding standard in his left hand, and making a sacrifice over an altar with right hand holding what looks like a shortened elephant goad. Kushan-language legend in Greek script (with the addition of the Kushan Ϸ "sh" letter): ϷΑΟ ΝΑΝΟ ϷΑΟ ΚΑΝΗϷΚΙ ΚΟϷΑΝΟ ("Shao nano shao Kanishki Koshano"):"King of Kings, Kanishka the Kushan". The legend starts circular from the left at 7 'o' clock (near the kings right feet), breaks at 12 'o' clock and continues at 1 'o' clock ending at the kings left feet at 5 'o' clock.

Rev: Deity MIIPO ie Mithra, radiate and nimbate, holding club in left hand with right hand extended, and wearing a thin transparent gown, kushan tamgha to the left, all within a circular dotted border. Mithra (or Mithras) is the Zoroastrian divinity (yazata) of covenant and oath. In addition to being the divinity of contracts, Mithra is also a judicial figure, an all-seeing protector of Truth, and the guardian of cattle, the harvest and of The Waters.

Kanishka's coins from the beginning of his reign bear legends in Greek language and script and depict Greek divinities. Later coins bear legends in Bactrian or Khota-Sakanese, the Iranian language that the Kushans evidently spoke, and Greek divinities were replaced by corresponding Iranic ones. All of Kanishka's coins even ones with a legend in the Bactrian language were written in a modified Greek script that had one additional glyph (Ϸ) to represent // (sh), as in the word 'Kushan' and 'Kanishka'.

On his coins, the king is typically depicted as a bearded man in a long coat and trousers gathered at the ankle, with flames emanating from his shoulders. He wears large rounded boots, and is armed with a long sword similar to a scimitar as well as a lance. He is frequently seen to be making a sacrifice on a small altar.

Buddha was depicted for the first time in human form on Kanishka's coins.

The attached headless image of a sculptor in Mathura Museum attests to the kings posture depicted on the coin. Interestingly, the kings feet are spaced wide apart making him appear bigger on the coins. It also depicts confidence and creates an aura of a ruler, a conqueror, a king destined to rule, a son of God or Deva-putra with flames emerging from shoulder signifying claim to divinity. The king appears on the coin as heavy, thick set and imposing, someone born to order, command respect, create fear for opponents and rule undisturbed and unperturbed, someone who makes his own destiny.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2013, 11:24:11 AM by mitresh »

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Kushan Empire: A Gold Dinar of Kanishka I "The Great"
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2013, 11:46:01 PM »
Yes, Mithras is a Zroastrian deity, who has found his way to India and his fire altars still burn there. However, the Romans accepted Mithras in their own Pantheon. (Incidentally, I wonder is Taranis, a Celtic deity, doesn't have a thing or two in common with Mithras also.) Mithras was popular among soldiers, so the Roman army brought him in all corners of the Empire, including Britain. In that sense, the cult of Mithras can really be called international.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline THCoins

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Re: Kushan Empire: A Gold Dinar of Kanishka I "The Great"
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2013, 10:48:49 AM »
That is a very beautifull coin you picked out !.
Peter already mentions the wide distribution of the Mithra cult. But i think that in this short summary you should have also mentioned the Greek. This coin was based on one with exactly the same design, but a hellenistic version with the same figure named as Helios.
The transfer of the cult to the romans was probably due to "pirates" of hellenistic origin who lived in asia minor.

The origin of Mithra does definitely not lie in Zoroastrianism. Zoroaster did his best to abolish Mithra and other deities to come to a mono-theistic religion with Ahura Mazda as one god. However, he failed, and his followers reintroduced these deities again in what is now considered zoroastrianism. There is a posibility that the mithras figure originated in India and only then migrated to persia.

The Kushan probably made a wise political decision to amalgamate these different figures into versions acceptable to all.

Offline mitresh

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Re: Kushan Empire: A Gold Dinar of Kanishka I "The Great"
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2013, 11:15:02 AM »
'Mithras' is suspiciously close to my name....I wonder if.... :P ;D

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Kushan Empire: A Gold Dinar of Kanishka I "The Great"
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2013, 11:17:30 AM »
I can't think of a better explanation.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline aristonazir

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Re: Kushan Empire: A Gold Dinar of Kanishka I "The Great"
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2013, 10:52:28 PM »
Also many kings in Asia had the name Mithridates, with the same root: Mithra + the greek verb ΔΙΔΩ (give), or the indo-european DA with the same meaning. So Mithridates is the one who had been given by Mithra. Mithras is not the first god who passed from Asia to Europe. According to greek mythology, Dionysus himself came from India on the back of a panther.

Someone has said that all the things, like the sun, come from the East and go to the West. I find these words very wise.
"Η πενία πολλών εστιν ενδεής, η δ απληστία πάντων".
"Poverty is lack of many things and greed of all"

Aristotle