Government Museum National Art Gallery, Government Museum, Chennai (Madras)


Archaeology | Anthropology | Art | Numismatics | Botany | Zoology
Geology | Children's Museum | Chemical Conservation

Pages [ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 ]

Next Gallery

Government Museum   Coins
tile.jpg (7292 bytes)




Puranas or Punch-Marked Coins
(circa 600 BC - circa 300 AD)

        Puranas are the earliest money coined in India . They were in circulation during the centuries long before the beginning of the Christian era. Sanskrit writers such as Manu and Panini, and the Buddhist Jataka stories have made mention of these coins.

        An interesting feature of these coins is that they bear neither date nor any name of kings. We only find a number of symbols punched on the face of these coins.

        The symbols found on these coins are religious, mythological or astronomical in character. Among the marks commonly found are the sun, the elephant, cow, chariot, horse, bull, jackal, tree, tiger or lion and dharmachakra.

       The punch-marked coins were in circulation in Northern India up to the beginning of the Christian era. In Southern India they continued to be in use for three centuries more.

Coins of Satavahanas
(232 BC - 227 AD)

       Satavahanas became an independent dynasty soon after the death of Ashoka in 232 BC and their rule lasted up to about 227 AD. Their dominions extended from the northern parts of modern Mysore in the south to the river Narmada in the north and from the mouth of the Godavari river on the Bay of Bengal in the east to the Western Ghats in the west.

       The Satavahana kings mostly used lead as the material for their coins. Most of their coins are in that metal. Silver coins are very rare. Next to lead they used an alloy of silver and copper, called "potin". Many copper coins are also available.

      Although the Satavahana coins are devoid of any beauty or artistic merit, they constitute a valuable source-material for the dynastic history of the Satavahanas.

       Most of the Satavahana coins have on one side the figure of an elephant, horse, lion or Chaitya (Buddhist place of worship). The other side shows the so-called Ujjain symbol-a cross with four circles at the end of the two crossing lines.

ElephantUjjain symbol


  King Kanishka - Obverse      Wind god - Reverse

Kushan Coins
(circa 78 AD - 200 AD)

        The appearance of the skill and craftsmanship of India may be noticed on the Kushana coins. The coinage become more Indian than Greek.

        The coins of the Kanishka group employ only Greek characters, Kanishka introduced the Iranian title 'shaonana shao', 'King of Kings', instead of Greek' legend. On the reverse of the coins are found a series of gods and goddesses, Iranian and Indian.


Coins of the Gupta Kings
(320 AD - 510 AD)

        The splendid Gupta coins with this many types and varieties are the finest examples of purely Indian Art. For the first time Indian coins have their legend (Inscription) in pure Sanskrit.

        The Gupta coins are essentially of gold, although silver and copper were also issued by the Gupta Kings.

        There are many types and varieties of Gupta gold coins. On one side of these coins we find the king standing and making oblations before an alter.

        On the other side is found the Goddess Lakshmi seated on a throne or on a lotus seat or the figure of the queen herself.


     King and Goddess


Standing figure      Fish


Pandya Coins

        The Pandyas had a very chequered history. During the Sangam period (circa 500 BC - circa 200 AD). They were one of the three kings who ruled Tamil Nadu. But in the turn of 3rd Century AD their power declained. They went into oblivion. They emerged again in the 6th Century AD.

        The earliest Pandyan coins were square, but die-struck, with an elephant on one side, the other side being blank. Between the 7th and 10th centuries the Pandyan coins bear the fish emblem. The fish appears sometimes single, sometimes in pair, and sometimes in conjunction with other symbols like the Chola standing figure or the Chalukyan boar. The inscription on the silver and gold coins is in Sanskrit and most of their copper coins have Tamil legends.

tile.jpg (7292 bytes)

Pages [ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 ]

Next Gallery


Museum News  |   Video Clips

History of the Museum  |  Site Plans (Campus Plan)  |  General Information 
  Galleries | Various Departments / Sections   |  Virtual Tour
Publications  |  Educational Activities 
District MuseumsFeedback