Author Topic: Three Swami Pagodas of South India  (Read 1333 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline gsrctr

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 88
Three Swami Pagodas of South India
« on: October 07, 2017, 07:22:43 PM »
I have been doing some research on the three swami pagodas of South India. Have a few in my collection, and a couple more I hope to acquire some day! Three swami pagodas have three deities on the obverse, and hence the name. It is one of the most popular coins for more than a century in South India, in 1600's and 1700's. All three major colonial powers (British, Dutch and French) and local rulers (Arcot Nawabs) issued them. We know the attribution exactly for a few types. The rest usually get attributed to the British EIC. Let me start with a coin with known attribution. As always, please feel free to chime in and add/update/correct.

The following is from my collection. It is issued by the British EIC Madras Presidency from 1740 - 1807.


Offline gsrctr

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 88
Re: Three Swami Pagodas of South India
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2017, 08:12:20 PM »
I will go over the pagodas of Arcot Nawabs, since the attribution for these are certain, before going back to the colonial powers. From "The International Numismata Orientalia", 1882 "Coins of Southern India" by Sir Walter Elliot, page 144:

"The hūns of Sa'adut Ulla Khn, who succeeded Nawāb Dwad Khn, and died in 1731, are recognized by the Persian letters alſ" (illah) on the granulated reverse, which is replaced on those of his relative Safdar 'Ali Khn by the letter 8 (ain). On his murder in 1741, the office of Nawāb was conferred by the Nizm on another family, that of Anwar-ud-din Khn, but his son Muhammad Ali, received his investiture direct from Delhi, with the high-sounding title of Walajāh Nawāb ul-Hind in 1766. In 1858 I received some information regarding his coinage with extracts of the mint accounts from the Dewn of the late Nawāb. By these it appears Walajh struck coins at other places besides Arcot, viz. Porto-Novo, Trichinopoli and Tiruvamur, and among the coins named are the Walajāhi, Kuruki, 'Umdat-ul-Mlki, Star and Feringhipet. Some of these I have not seen. The Kuruki is not uncommon. It has the three standing figures strongly marked, and a plain granulated reverse."

The following two coins are three swami pagodas with alif (very rare) and ain letters on the obverse, and these markings make the attribution certain. These two are not from my collection. I narrowly missed acquiring the first one, but such is life.


Offline gsrctr

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 88
Re: Three Swami Pagodas of South India
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2017, 08:23:36 PM »
The distinguishing characteristics of the Arcot pagodas are
1. the unique shape of the shoulders of the deity in the center and
2. the stick-like legs of his consorts on either side.

From the "Numismata Orientalia" article, we know that there is a version of these pagodas called Kuruki, with a plain granulated reverse. I believe strongly that the following is a Kuruki pagoda (from my collection).

Offline gsrctr

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 88
Re: Three Swami Pagodas of South India
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2017, 08:30:01 PM »
The next one is a very rare three swami pagoda by the French. Attribution is certain because of the symbol on the reverse that the French used. Surprisingly, this pagoda resembles the Arcot pagoda on the obverse. Not from my collection.


Offline gsrctr

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 88
Re: Three Swami Pagodas of South India
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2017, 09:01:15 PM »
The Dutch had a thriving trade at Masulipatnam and they were minting three swami pagodas for this trade. Unfortunately the only pagodas we see attributed to the Dutch are the porto novo variety. The "Encyclopedie van munten en papiergeld" at (http://wiki.muntenenpapiergeld.nl/index.php?title=Pagode) shows the Dutch three swami pagoda. The only distinct characteristic I can perceive is that the crown on the deity in the center extends down on either side of his face. It definitely sounds like a stretch :), but I do have a coin in my collection that matches this. So - opinions welcome.


Offline gsrctr

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 88
Re: Three Swami Pagodas of South India
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2017, 09:20:24 PM »
This leaves me with two more varieties of the three swamy pagoda. The first one is from my collection, and I believe it is from British EIC. It is graded as such by a TPG, but they do make mistakes. However, after going through several old sources, I think this is the first version (1691 - 1740) from BEIC.

The second one is different. The deity figures are small. The reverse is plain. Any local ruler worth his salt would have put his name on the reverse.  My guess is that this must be the early first version from BEIC. The picture is the best one I could find for this variety. Would love to get one for myself.

Your comments and corrections are welcome. I am an amateur, and am thankful for any feedback.

Offline gsrctr

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 88
Re: Three Swami Pagodas of South India
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2017, 07:18:51 AM »
There is also another source (Gold Coins of the World: From Ancient Times to the Present by Arthur L. Friedberg, Ira S. Friedberg, Robert Friedberg) which shows the second pagoda shown in the last reply as the one by Dutch.


Offline Figleaf

  • Administrator
  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 29 266
Re: Three Swami Pagodas of South India
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2017, 10:53:35 PM »
The Dutch version is described in Scholten (1247), which has given rise to the description in KM KM 10). The picture in Scholten is too small to see details. Scholten was a fine researcher and he had access to original sources, but his book is now 67 years old. Scholten describes the coin as (my translation): three idols with tiaras in three parts on their heads, being Venkateswara and his two wives, full length. Convex reverse with very finely granulated dots.

On the picture in Scholten, the reverse looks practically blank, as it does on your last two pictures. My guess is that this (and the full length figures) is taken as the distinguishing characteristic of the Masulipatan strike, separating them from coins with coarse granulation. Since the type was struck for a century, many different dies must have been used, so that differences in the obverse design are not a good guide to where and when the coins were produced.

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

Offline gsrctr

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 88
Re: Three Swami Pagodas of South India
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2017, 02:32:46 AM »
Thank you for the additional reference, Peter. The Dutch started before British in India and minted these coins for more than a century. It is a pity that we still are not sure. The website "Encyclopedie van munten en papiergeld" that I listed earlier looks like an official Dutch effort and yet, they do not have the description or a picture of what Scholten has!!

All three swamy pagodas are sold as from BEIC today. I am sure at some point, someone knowledgeable will spend the time and effort to identify these correctly. Meanwhile, I will just keep collecting as many variants as I can get :).

Offline Oesho

  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3 377
Re: Three Swami Pagodas of South India
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2017, 09:58:24 PM »
Herewith ages of what I assume is the three-swami pagoda struck by the British at Madras.
Pr#3A  (c.1691-1740)
Pr#3B  (c.1740-1807)
Typical for the British issues is the diamond shaped crown of the deities. Also the pointed shoulders are typical for the British issues.

Offline Oesho

  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3 377
Re: Three Swami Pagodas of South India
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2017, 10:04:21 PM »
Negapatnam Three Murthy pagoda Scholten #1247, struck by the Dutch.

Offline Figleaf

  • Administrator
  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 29 266
Re: Three Swami Pagodas of South India
« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2017, 10:47:24 PM »
Typical for the British issues is the diamond shaped crown of the deities. Also the pointed shoulders are typical for the British issues.

That's all fine, but on worn specimen, all cats look grey in the dark. Your specimen also has a blank looking (or, if you wish, fine granulation) reverse, which I find a better indicator of who issued the coin.

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

Offline gsrctr

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 88
Re: Three Swami Pagodas of South India
« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2018, 06:03:06 PM »
This is a recent acquisition. Not sure where to place this. It is distinct from the BEIC pagodas (above by Oesho), both on the obverse and the grains on the reverse. Not even sure if this is a full figure one that has been struck a little high or if it is a three-quarter variety. Appreciate any suggestions.

Offline Oesho

  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3 377
Re: Three Swami Pagodas of South India
« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2018, 10:20:12 PM »
I would regard this as the Madras three Murthy pagoda, Pr#3A  (c.1691-1740). Why I say so, is because of the tiaras or crown of the deities, which is more diamond shaped. Particular on the last issue this shape becomes very prominent, Pr#3B  (c.1740-1807).
As I remarked earlier, typical for the British issues is the diamond shaped crown of the deities. Also the pointed shoulders are typical for the British issues.
Moreover Scholten remarked about the Dutch three Murthy pagodas that they show full length figures.
Furthermore I like to point out that the illustration in the Encyclopedia (see reply 4) is the same coin as the one shown in reply 9; Pr#3A  (c.1691-1740). This coin is from my collection and was used for illustration in the Encyclopedia for which I also made the description.
However, due to progressive insight, I am now of the opinion that it more likely an BEIC issue is and that the Dutch three Murthy pagoda the one shown in reply 10 is.
Nevertheless is remains a complex subject, particular as the Dutch struck those coins for a long time. Initially they were struck from 1646 on wards at Pulicat. Later they were produced at Negapatnam were they were struck at least up to 1758. So within a period of more than 100 years there might well be a change in design of these coins.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2018, 10:54:26 PM by Oesho »

Offline gsrctr

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 88
Re: Three Swami Pagodas of South India
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2018, 02:34:05 AM »
Thank you Oesho, for the detailed description. Did not realize you were the author of that encyclopedia! Really grateful that you are actively participating here, sharing your knowledge.

Scholten 1247 says that the Masulipatam pagoda obverse is "full length figures .. with three triple crowns" and the reverse is "covered with dots, very finely granulated". I see the following two are candidates and from your description you seem to suggest the second. If so, where do you place the first one? Thanks once again.