Author Topic: Imperial Cholas: Titular Legend Coins of Raja Raja I Chola  (Read 5176 times)

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Offline mitresh

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Coin 1

Imperial Cholas, Raja Raja I, Gold One-eighth Kahavanu, 0.47g, 'Yuddha-Malla' type


Coin 2

Imperial Cholas, Raja Raja I, Gold 2 Fanams, 0.74g, 'Uya or Jaya Konda' (Victorious) type


There were three main Kingdoms in South India - Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas. The dynastic crest (lacchana) of the Cholas was the Tiger, of the Cheras a Bow and of the Pandyas a Fish. They were in constant conflict with each other and fortunes swung one way or the other. If the ruler was a great conqueror and he managed to subdue the two other crowned kings of the Tamil country (Tamil desa), he adopted all the three royal crests on his coinage.

In the first coin above, the three emblems are under the same umbrella. This suggests that both the Chera and the Pandya had been vanquished. The emblem of a "tiger facing two fish" was first adopted by Uttam Chola (973-985 AD). The seated tiger represented the Chola homeland and the fish for the Pandya conquest. The fish on the Pandyan coins are horizontal (swimming) and in this case vertical (dead). While in the coins of Uttama Chola, only the fish and tiger are seen, in this coin, for the first time, all the three symbols are seen. The conquest of the Chera was accomplished by Rajaraja I.

Obverse: Roaring Tiger (Chola symbol) seated right facing towards two upright Fishes (Pandyan symbol), Bow (Chera symbol) behind, Umbrella above.

Reverse: Yuddha / Malla - in Devanagari script

The title "Yuddha Malla" (Victorious in Battlefield or War) was adopted by Raja Raja Chola and his grandson, Rajadhiraja Chola.

The second coin depicts on Obverse what is famously referred to as the 'Ceylon man' type with the king shown either seated or standing. The reverse bears the legend in Devanagari "Uya or Jaya Konda" (The Victor).

I sent the scan of the second coin to the Govt Museum, Chennai who confirmed the legend reads as "Uya Konda" however published catalogues use both these term (Uya or Jaya) interchangeably. My Tamil friends confirm that there is both a place in Tamil Nadu called Jayan Kondan as well as a movie of this name.

What is puzzling and mysterious, as well as important numismatic evidence, is that for the first time in Tamil coins we find a Nagari legend. Why and how it was introduced? Was it, perhaps, introduced as an overture to the neighbouring dynasties up North to gain wider trade accceptance or was it due to the influence of Brahmins from up North who perhaps served or were advisers to the Chola Kings? I have no answers.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2013, 05:09:31 PM by mitresh »
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Offline Quant.Geek

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Re: Imperial Cholas: Titular Legend Coins of Raja Raja I Chola
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2013, 05:07:57 PM »
Nice Mitresh!  I have been meaning to pick up these coins for a while, but haven't found them yet.  Bit of a disadvantage here in the US when it comes to these coins.  Some corrections are necessary in your description though:

Imperial Cholas, Raja Raja I, Gold One-eighth Kahavanu, 0.47g, 'Yuddha-Malla' type

If the ruler was a great conqueror and he managed to subdue the two other crowned kings of the Tamil country (Tamil desa), he adopted all the three royal crests on his coinage.


As far as I know, the Pandyas never added all three of the crests in one coin even though they subdued the Chera and Chola kingdoms.  This was somewhat unique to the Cholas.  When Maravarman Sundara Pandya I finally subdued the Cholas after generations of being a suzerainty to the Cholas, he gave the Chola kindom back to the disposed king as a sign of generosity when he sacked the capital in Tanjore.  Now the Cholas were a suzerainty to the Pandyas.  In recognition, he issued the following coin (this is NOT my coin):



The attribution for this coin is as follows:

MCSI-383: Maravarman Sundara Pandya I

Obv: Cho nadu kondan (The one who brought the Chola Nadu (e.g. Kingdom))
Rev: Standing man in Chola style


The emblem of a "tiger facing two fish" was first adopted by Uttam Chola (973-985 AD). The seated tiger represented the Chola homeland and the fish for the Pandya conquest. The fish on the Pandyan coins are horizontal (swimming) and in this case vertical (dead). While in the coins of Uttama Chola, only the fish and tiger are seen, in this coin, for the first time, all the three symbols are seen. The conquest of the Chera was accomplished by Rajaraja I.


The "dead" vs. "swimming" fish analogy is not correct either as majority of the Pandya coins had an upright fish symbol.  I can't post all the coins here in this thread, but you can find some of my Pandya coins on WoC.  An example of an upright fish issued by the Pandya is:



Early 13th Century Anonymous Pandyan.  Probably issued during the reign of Jatavarman Kulasekhara Pandya (1190-1216)

MCSI-374

Obv: Seated king in Chola style; to right - Pandya fish + scepter
Rev: Standing figure in Chola style

Furthermore, Uttama Chola had issued silver and gold de-based coins depicting all three crests in his coin.  Even though the legend does say Uttama Chola, Biddulph indicates that Rajendra Chola also took on the title of Uttama Chola and hence issued the following coin as well, but there is some disagreement with this assessment.  This particular coin was introduced by Uttama Chola and continued on into Raja Raja Chola's reign:



Mitchiner 324-329:

Obv: Tiger seated right, towards two upright fishes; bow and lamp behind; umbrella above
Rev: Devanagari - Uttama / Cholah

As for the use of Nagari vs. Tamil, I don''t really have an answer for that...

Cheers,

Ram
« Last Edit: November 03, 2013, 03:19:04 PM by Quant.Geek »
A gallery of my coins can been seen at FORVM Ancient Coins

Offline mitresh

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Re: Imperial Cholas: Titular Legend Coins of Raja Raja I Chola
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2013, 06:03:37 PM »
Ram - thanks for the corrections. Appreciated.
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Offline Quant.Geek

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Re: Imperial Cholas: Titular Legend Coins of Raja Raja I Chola
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2013, 06:32:59 PM »
Ram - thanks for the corrections. Appreciated.

No problem.  It should be noted that there is an numismatic / archeological gap for the Pandyas.  After the issuance of Sangam-Age coins for the first 300 years AD, there seems to be no Pandyan coins until the early 13th Century.  Mitchiner and others indicate that the possibility could be that currency was not used during this period.  With the suzerainty of the Cholas, coinage usage resumed and native coinage was re-introduced during the 13th century.  I am not too familar with Chera-Pandya history to give a basis on what happened between them, but here is a coin from Venad Chera with fishes in them.  They either indicate subjugation by the Pandyas or the conquest of Pandya by the Cheras, but it looks more like a "dead" fish  ;)

MCSI-458, Sarasan-39 (Not my coin)

Obv: Seated king in Chola Style, to the right - "Battle Axe"; above right - Tamil 'Cha'
Rev: Standing figure in Chola Style; to the right - Lozenge symbol; Fish symbol to the left

A gallery of my coins can been seen at FORVM Ancient Coins