Bull and horseman: jital of Mu'izzuddin Muhammad Bin Sam (1162-1206 AD)

Started by Rangnath, June 24, 2007, 05:40:18 AM

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Rangnath

I recently had the pleasant experience of "seeing" a coin I had been examining for the first time: the "Aha" sensation. 
I first studied the coin in the following position.

Rangnath

and then, I turned it upside down and looked for a man on a horse, on the left, and a brahma bull on the right.  And "Aha", there it was. 
It seems to be a coin from 1145-67 AD, of the Delhi Rajas.  What impressed me is the qualtiy of the abstraction of the horse and rider, on the left, and the bull on the right. 
Richie

BC Numismatics

Richie,
  There are a lot of coins from various Indian Princely States which were struck far later than the dates that they bear.For example,the first coins of Kutch are dated AH978 (1570),but they differ from the coins of Muzaffar III of Gujerat in the sense that the Kutchi rulers' names appear on the coins.These were struck into the 19th. Century.The first coins of both Nawanagar & Porbandar are in the same style as the Kutchi coins,even down to having the AH978 frozen date inscribed.

Aidan.

Figleaf

Weel done! Such a sharp looking coin and nothing familiar until you see it in another perspective. I have attached a pic of an early bull and horseman type for comparison from a plate in Coins of America, Africa, Australasia and Asia by R. A. G. Carson (London 1962)

My theory on degeneration is that it was not born out of sloppiness or failure to understand, but because the examples had long disappeared and local craftsmen had to work from memory to recreate a valued coin from their youth. Below is a 12th or 13th century example from the coast of what is now the North of Belgium or the South of the Netherlands. The three types were created over a period of about 150 years, so probably by three different artists. The first is figurative, the second is halfway to abstract and the third completely abstract, yet all three have wonderful artistic quality. The picture was less and less important, the pattern counted for more and more. You have to love these old artists, inventing painting styles that became fashinable only many centuries later.

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

Rangnath

We seem to have several forces at work.  There are trends in art, both to preserve the old and to change.  Coin design is shaped by cultural vigor, economic vitality and continuity, religious tradition, an innate human need for metaphor and societal expectation.  Individual personalities play a part too, both from the point of view of the artist and the patrons of art.  Alexander the Great?s impact on coinage is legendary. Within Moghul coinage, Shah Jahan and his wife Nur seemed to have taken an active role in coin design changes that brought experimental direction in regards to both content and layout quite different from the disciplined (or inflexible, depending on one?s point of view) religious Aurengzeb.  I prefer the coinage of the Jahans, but there is something to be said for the more balanced, imperial, austere coins of Aurengzeb. 

In the three examples that Peter gave, there is a trend that Piet Mondrian would applaud.  Unnecessary surface decoration is being systematically removed, as with a game of pick up sticks, without destroying the essential meaning of the symbols.  An austere, mathematically pure equation is being produced.  Does this have a parallel shift in the culture of the people of that time?  Or was this the result of individual artistic research and development?  An artist like Hieronymus Bosch might be dismayed at the increasing poverty of detail in each successive coin. Mondrian might see a kindred spirit.

Aiden?s observation that in India, coin designs made numerous appearances, adopted by disparate rulers is certainly correct.  But why did that happen?  Was the motivation of the ruler one of an attempt to gain respect and legitimacy by linking with the past?  Was the reappearance of a coin design due to the necessities of stable commerce? Was it artistic laziness?  Was it an example of a ruler giving in to cultural expectation:  ?This is what a real coin should look like!?

   The horse and rider and the bull motif seemed quite popular in India for hundreds of years.  I?ll include three examples, pulled from Ancient Coins Canada:  http://www.vcoins.com/ancient/ancientcoinscanada/store/dynamicIndex.asp.  I?m hoping that they know what they are doing and that the identifications are correct.
A. Billon jital of Simghata (ca.1050 AD), Chahamanas of Sakambhari
B. Billon jital of Jalal al-Din Mangubarni (1220-1224), Sultans of Sind, India
C. Billon jital from Lahore of Taj al-Din Yildiz (1206-1215 AD), Ghorids of Ghazna

I wonder how much of the changes that we see in these three are due to religious and cultural influence?  The bull may have Hindu religious connotations. Coin A was minted by a Hindu raja.  Coin B and C were minted by a Muslim Sultan. The bull was removed in coin C.  The most abstract horse and rider are also in coin C.  Was this ?degenerative?, ?laziness?, purely artistic expression, evidence of a search for the true essence of horse and rider, or something else?

Figleaf

In the case of India, I take the econnomist's view. People were used to seeing coins always getting lighter and worse in precious metal content. They must have reasoned that the older the coin, the better. By imitating old coins, later rulers were simply improving the chance that the coin would be accepted in trade. One indication of this is that the early colonial coins of the Indian sub-continent were mostly imitations of local types, with only an occasional fleur-de-lis or coat of arms, until the screw press had replaced hammered coins.

Nevertheless, other motives cannot be excluded. I am thinking of the man called "the General" by the French. De Gaulle reformed the French coinage in the sixties by introducing a new franc, worth 100 old francs and by faithfully imitating the Semeuse design he must have remembered from his boyhood. If De Gaulle can do that, so can any Mughal ;).

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

Rangnath

The Madras imitation of a Qurangzeb coin that was counter stamped for use in Sri Lanka fits into that pattern.
As for the General, does that make him the French Akbar of the 20th century?  Anyway, I like his taste in coin designs.
Richie

Overlord

I think this is a jital of Mu'izzuddin Muhammad Bin Sam (1162-1206 AD) (aka Mohammad Ghori). Here is a similar coin at Zeno.

Oesho

Yes Overlord, you're right it is a jital of Mu'izzuddin Muhammad Bin Sam. Similar coins are also listed on ZENO under the India, Sultans of Dehli, as Mu'izzuddin Muhammad Bin Sam was the founder of the Dehli Sultanate. The above jital or Dehliwal is mintless, but probably struck at Dehli.
Ref.: Goron/Goenka D10; Rajgor #721; Deyell #260; Tye #185.

Rangnath

Thank you Overlord and Oesho! And the jital thanks you too.  It has definitely gained some warmth due to its new attention! And of course, Muhammad of Ghor must appreciate the correction of the attribution as well.
richie