Author Topic: Coins of Raja Raja Chola  (Read 45843 times)

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Offline Overlord

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Coins of Raja Raja Chola
« on: February 11, 2008, 04:59:27 PM »
A few coins of Raja Raja Chola (the 'octopus' king :))...





Offline Rangnath

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Re: Coins of Raja Raja Chola
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2008, 07:54:53 PM »
Nice coins Overlord.
I know very little about South Indian History. From Wikipedia, I know that Raja Raja ruled from 985 to 1014 CE and that he was considered the great Chola ruler. 
What gets me about his coin design are two things:
1. The images had incredible durability; over two hundred years at any event.  Maybe someone can help with this. Nearly identical "octopus men" appeared on Sri Lankan coins in the 13th century.  I understand about the ties between Sri Lanka and the Cholas, it is the repeated use of the same image that surprises me.  Your bull and horse designs had a longer history (500 years or so?) and the type of design used by the infamous King Harsha Raja Deva (Enthroned Ardoxho standing) endured for what? a thousand years? Nonetheless, 250 years for the Octopus Design isn't bad. Most designs last only as long as the ruler who employed them.
2. There is a certain phase in Children's art in which Octopus Men are predictably "re" created. My daughter created her multi appendaged people when she was about four years of age. I was delighted with them and, as a budding potter at the time, I executed a line of bowls with the image repeated three times in relief on the sides. The Cholas were quite sophisticated.  Why did they use such an image on their coins?  Is the explanation that Raja Raja was as delighted with his daughter's art work as I was with mine and once employed on a coin by THE Greatest, others continued the tradition?
richie

Offline Oesho

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Re: Coins of Raja Raja Chola
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2008, 09:40:57 PM »
Dear overlord, none of the reverses (which are actually obverses) of these Chola coins have been correctly alligned. They show a sitting king with the name Rajaraja in two lines below his raised arm. Wait for some more illustrations which will be kindly up-loaded by Rangnath.

Offline Rangnath

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Re: Coins of Raja Raja Chola
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2008, 09:59:22 PM »
Illustration I (Kahavanu Sri Lamka Vibhu Codr III-46)

The name of octopus-men has been given to this type of coins by some
historical nitwit. It is the same as calling Persian or Arabic
spaghetti-script.
When Rajaraja Chola invaded Ceylon (c.990) he adopted the indigenous coin
type of the gold kahavanu, initiated shortly before by the Singhalese. This
coin type became, under the Singhalese resistance, rather widespread to pay
for the opposition against the Cholas. The kahavanu is a gold coin of a
seated king, with a legend, Sri Lamka Vibhu (the victorious Lord of Ceylon)
below his raised arm. The reverse shows a standing king with ancillary
symbols.

Offline Rangnath

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Re: Coins of Raja Raja Chola
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2008, 10:00:08 PM »
Illustration II (Pala - Lakshmi MNI#826)

Smaller gold coins of a quarter denomination, gold pala, were also struck by
the Singhalese, but those were not imitated by the Cholas.

 

Offline Rangnath

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Re: Coins of Raja Raja Chola
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2008, 10:00:57 PM »
Illustration III (Rajajraja Chola kahavanu Ceylon type)

Rajaraja Chola struck similar coins, in base gold, on the Island of Sri
Lanka. Instead of Sri Lamka Vibhu, now his own name is added in two lines:
Raja
Raja
The type struck on the Island can be recognised by a fifth ball, added to
the right of the standing king on the reverse.

Offline Rangnath

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Re: Coins of Raja Raja Chola
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2008, 10:02:02 PM »
Illustration IV (Rajajraja Chola kahavanu mainland type)

In the homeland of the Cholas (Tanjore, South India) this type became
equally popular and struck there on a quite large scale too. The mainland
type can be distinguished by a crescent above the cluster of the 4 balls to
the right of the standing king.
The Chola-type of the Ceylon kahavanu is of rather debased gold to almost
silver, but more numerous are the copper issues, which became the proto-type
for several other copper issues of the so-called Ceylon-man type, struck by
the Cholas and other successive dynasties in South India.
Oesho
« Last Edit: February 11, 2008, 10:06:59 PM by Rangnath »

Offline Rangnath

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Re: Coins of Raja Raja Chola
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2008, 10:23:40 PM »
This is one fantastic thread!  Thankyou once again Overlord for initiating this. I know that there are some folks on "Coin Talk" and "Coin Forum" who would also appreciate and add to these discussions of Indian numismatics.  Do you know any well enough to invite here?

Oesho, your examples are absolutely exquisite and wonderfully educational. Thank you so much.

And now for two rather simplistic questions:
What is the estimate of the earliest use of a Kahavanu with this style of sitting and/or standing King?
Do the number of balls to the right of the standing King in copper coins also signifiy location of mint?
richie

Offline Oesho

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Re: Coins of Raja Raja Chola
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2008, 01:17:09 PM »
Sri Lanka was in earlier times often dominated/influenced by dynasties in South India.
From AD668-740 was a period of Pallava influence. Before the advent of Pallava coins to Ceylon and production of local derivative coinage on the island, the currency needs of Ceylon were met by small 4th century Roman bronzes that had arrived by trade and the not un-common local imitations of the Roman series.
See: http://www.zeno.ru/showgallery.php?cat=4400

From AD 824-943 the island was under Pandyan influence. It was only about 860/980 that an indigenous currency of gold coins of the sitting/standing king type were introduced. The series was introduced before submission of the island tot Rajaraja Chola (invaded c. 990) in 1001.

As written before the island type and mainland type can be distinguished from each other by the presence or not of a crescent above the cluster of balls or spheres to the right of the standing king. On the island issues the crescent is absent and show a cluster of five balls.
On the mainland type a crescent is shown above the cluster of balls. This also applies to the copper issues Rajaraja Chola, which seems invariably be of the mainland type.
The number of dots on those copper coins may differ, but they all show a crescent above. No clear island-type issue has ever been reported and probably they weren’t struck at that time as there was no indigenous copper coin struck on the island either.
With the restoration of Singhalese independence in 1070, debased gold coins in the name of Vijaya Bahu I (1055-1110) were issued, which all show the cluster of five balls. This continues under successive rulers till almost the end of the 13th century.
See: http://www.zeno.ru/showgallery.php?cat=4402

The name kahavanu applies generally to the gold and silver coins of the sitting/standing king types. Sometimes also the Chola coppers are called a kahavanu, but in recent publications the indigenous South Indian name for copper coin “Kasu” is being introduced, which from historical point of view seems to be more correct.
The later sitting/standing king types, struck in copper/bronze by the successive rulers on the island of Ceylon (Sri Lanka)  were also described as kahavanu, but nowadays they are more often described as  a copper massa.

The references used:
Michael Mitchiner: Oriental Coins and ther values, Non-Islamic States & Western Colonies, AD600-1979, London 1979,
Michael Mitchiner: The coinage and history of Southern India. part Two - Tamilnadu - Kerala, London 1998.

Offline Rangnath

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Re: Coins of Raja Raja Chola
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2008, 09:45:25 PM »
Thanks for the historical accounting. You have helped me to correct the denominations I've had on my Chola and Singhalese coppers and I certainly have a new appreciation for them.
richie

Offline bart

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Re: Coins of Raja Raja Chola
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2008, 11:30:54 PM »
This is a very interesting thred.

I happen to have one Raja Raja Chola coin in my collection. I received it from an Indian collector. I hope the pictures are clear enough.

Bart
« Last Edit: February 20, 2008, 04:23:26 PM by bart »

Offline Rangnath

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Re: Coins of Raja Raja Chola
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2008, 12:02:29 AM »
Hi Bart,
After seeing Oesho's coins, I'd certainly like to see more!

I did come across a web site that I would recommend for those interested in  South Indian Coins.

You might also check out the links provided at the bottom of the page.

Bart, I wish the image of your coin was larger; at least twice the size would allow me to "read" it (44 Kb).
richie
« Last Edit: February 15, 2008, 12:05:25 AM by Rangnath »

Offline Oesho

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Re: Coins of Raja Raja Chola
« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2008, 12:22:00 AM »
Despite fact the coin image is pretty 'small', the name below the arm of the sitting king clearly shows Raja/Raja. To the right of the standing king a crescent can be observed above the cluster of dots.
This, therefore, is a mainland issue (as are all other other copper kasu's).

Offline bart

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Re: Coins of Raja Raja Chola
« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2008, 09:29:32 AM »
Thanks Richie and Oesho, for your comments.

I'll try later-on to put a new scan, which is somewhat bigger. I had to install a new scanner and it works somewhat different than the former one. I still have to get used to it in editing scans.

Bart

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Coins of Raja Raja Chola
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2008, 12:27:59 PM »
This thread is simply amazing. Super quality discussion and illustrations. My takeaway is that it vividly illustrates the historical connections between the North of Sri Lanka, now embroiled in a bloody war with the rest of the island and the Southern tip of India. You ignore history at your peril and not knowing history is a special kind of blindness.

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