Test: Coins in Ancient and Medieval India


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QUESTION: 1

Which of the following are correctly matched?

1. Sisarupa - Silver

2. Tamargupta - Cooper

3. Suvarnarupa - Gold

Choose from the following options.

Solution: Chanakya, the prime minister to the first Mauryan emperor Chandragupta Maurya, mentioned the minting of punch marked coins such as rupyarupa (silver), suvarnarupa (gold), tamrarupa (copper) and sisarupa (lead) in his Arthashastra treatise. Out of the various symbols used, sun and six armed wheel were most consistent. The coin contained an average of 50-54 grains of silver and 32 rattis in weight and termed as Karshapanas.
QUESTION: 2

Consider the following statements regarding punch marked coins issued by various Mahajanapadas.

1. Puranas among the the first Indian punch marked coins

2. They were made up of nickel and lead

Which of these statements are correct?

Solution: Punch marked coins issued by various Mahajanapadas (around 6th century BC): The first Indian punch marked coins called Puranas, Karshapana Pana were minted in the 6th century BC by the various Janapadas and Mahajanapadas of the Indo-Gangetic Plain. These coins had irregular shapes, standard weight and were made up of silver with different markings like Saurashtra had a humped bull, Dakshin Panchala had a Swastika and Magadha had generally five symbols. Magadhan punch-marked coins became the most circulated coins in South Asia. They are mentioned in the Manusmriti and Buddhist Jataka stories and lasted three centuries longer in the south than in the north.
QUESTION: 3

Consider the following statements about Indo Greek coins.

1. They were made up of silver and copper only

2. They used two languages - Greek on one of this side and Sanskrit on the other side

3. Kanishka also employed Hindu deities on them

Which of these statements are correct?

Solution: The reign of Indo-Greeks was from 180 BC to around 10 AD. The Indo-Greeks introduced the fashion of showing the bustor head of the ruler on the coins.

The legends on their Indian coins were mentioned in two languages, in Greek on one of the side and in Kharosthi on the other side of the coin. The Greek gods and goddesses commonly shown on the Indo-Greek coins were Zeus, Hercules, Apollo and Pallas Athene. The initial series used images of Greek deities but later coins had images of Indian deities as well. These coins are significant because they carried detailed information about the issuing monarch, the year of issue and sometimes an image of the reigning king. Coins were mainly made of silver, copper, nickel and lead. The coins of the Greek kings in India were bilingual, i.e., written in Greek on the front side and in Pali language (in Kharosthi script) on the back. Later, Indo-Greek Kushan kings of introduced the Greek custom engraving portrait heads on the coins. The coins issued by Kanishka employed only Greek characters.

QUESTION: 4

Consider the following statements regarding coins by satavahanas.

1. Satavahana Kings mostly used silver as a material for their coins

2. The dialect used was Prakrit

Which of these statements are correct?

Solution: Satavahanas rule started after 232 BC and lasted up to 227 AD. The Satavahana kings mostly used lead as a material for their coins. Silver coins were 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 had on one side, the figure of an elephant, horse, lion or Chaitya. The other side showed the Ujjain symbol - a cross with four circles at the end of the two crossing lines. The dialect used was Prakrit.

QUESTION: 5

Consider the following statements about coins of the Western Satraps.

1. Prakrit language had been generally used

2. They have the head of the King on one side and Lord Shiva on the other side

Which of these statements are not correct?

Solution: The Western Satraps (35-405 AD) had their dominion in Western India, originally comprising Malwa, Gujarat and Kathiawar. They were all of Saka origin. The coins of Western Satraps are of great historical importance. They bear dates in the Saka era, which started from 78 AD. The coins of the Western Satraps have the head of the king on one side and on the other side, they carry the device of the Buddhist chaitya or stupa evidently borrowed from Satavahanas.

Prakrit language has been generally used being written in many scripts.

QUESTION: 6

Consider the following statements regarding coins issued in Gupta age.

1. They were made of gold only

2. The inscriptions on the coins were all in the Brahmi script for the first time in the history of coins

3. They depicted the emperors only in martial activities like hunting lions and posing with weapons

Which of these statements are correct?

Solution: The Gupta age (319 AD-550 AD) marked a period of great Hindu revival. The Gupta coins were mainly made of gold, although they issued silver and copper coins too. Silver coins were issued only after Chandragupta II overthrew the Western Satraps. There were many types and varieties of Gupta gold coins. On one side of these coins, we find the king standing and making oblations before an altar, playing the veena, performing ashvamedha, riding a horse or an elephant, slaying a lion or a tiger or a rhinoceros with a sword or bow, or sitting on a couch. On the other side is the goddess Lakshmi seated on a throne or a lotus seal, or the figure of the queen herself. The inscriptions on the coins were all in Sanskrit (Brahmi script) for the first time in the history of coins. Gupta rulers issued coins depicting the emperors not only in martial activities like hunting lions/tigers, posing with weapons, etc., but also in leisurely activities like playing a Veena, with reverse side of the coin having images of goddess Lakshmi, Durga, Ganga, Garuda and Kartikeya.
QUESTION: 7

Consider the following statements regarding coins of the Rajput Dynasties.

1. The coins issued by the Rajput dynasties were mostly of gold, copper or billon

2. Silver was very rare

Which of these statements are correct?

Solution: The coins issued by the Rajput dynasties (11th_12th century) were mostly of gold, copper or billon (an alloy of silver and copper)but very rarely silver. There were two types of Rajput coinage. One type showed the name of the king in Sanskrit on one side and a goddess on the other side. The coins of the Kalachuris, the Chandellas of Bundelkhand, the Tomars of Ajmer and Delhi and of the Rathores of Kannauj were of this type. The kings of Gandhara or Sindh introduced the other type of silver coins that had a seated bull on one side and a horseman on the other.
QUESTION: 8

Consider the following statements regarding the coins of the Chola dynasty

1. Inscriptions were generally in Sanskrit

2. Fish became a very important symbol in the coins

3. There used to be seated Goddess on the other side of the coin

Which of the following statements are correct?

Solution: The coins issued by Pandyan dynasty were square shaped with an image of elephant in the early period. Later, fish became a very important symbol in the coins. The gold and silver coins had inscriptions in Sanskrit and copper coins in tamil. The coins of the Chola king Raja Raja-I had the standing king on one side and seated goddess on the other side with inscriptions generally in Sanskrit. Rajendra-I's coins had the legend 'Sri Rajendra' or 'Gangaikonda Chola' inscribed with the emblems of tiger and fish. The coins of the Pallava dynasty had the figure of a lion.
QUESTION: 9

Consider the following statements regarding Turkish and Delhi Sultan coins.

1. Rupee and dam was introduced by Muhammad Bin Tughlaq

2. The coins had inscriptions in the form of King's name, title and the date as per Gregorian Calendar

Which of these statements are correct?

Solution: The coins had inscriptions in the form of king's name, title and the date as per Hijri calendar. The coins did not bear any image of the issuing monarch as there was a prohibition of idolatry in Islam. For the first time, the name of the mint was also inscribed in the coins. The Sultans of Delhi issued gold, silver, copper and billon coins. Silver Tanka and Copper Jital was introduced by Iltutmish. Alauddin Khilji changed the existing design by dropping the name of the Khalif and replaced it by self-praising titles. Muhammad bin Tughlaq circulated bronze and copper coins and also issued token paper currency which was a flop. Sher Shah Suri (1540-1545) introduced two standards of weight-one of 178 grains for silver coins and one of 330 grains for copper coins. These were later known as the rupee and the dam respectively.
QUESTION: 10

Consider the following statements about Mughal coinage.

1. Akbar issued both round and Square coins

2. Illahi coins were issued by the Jahangir

3. Coins of Jahangir had images of Zodiac signs

Which of these statements are not correct?

Solution: The standard gold coin of the Mughals was the Mohur of about 170 + 175 grains. Abul Fazl in his 'Ain-i-Akbari' indicated that a Mohur was equivalent to nine rupees. Half and quarter mohurs are also known. The silver rupee which was an adoption from Sher Shah's currency, was the most famous of all Mughal coins. The Mughal copper coin was adopted from Sher Shah's dam which weighed 320 to 330 grains. Akbar issued both round and square coins. In 1579, he issued gold coins called Ilahi coins to propagate his new religious creed 'Din-i-Illahi'. On this coin, it was written "God is great, may his glory be glorified'. The value of an ilahi coin was equal to 10 rupees. Sahansah was the largest gold coin. These coins bore the names of the persian solar months. Jahangir showed the legend in a couplet in the coins. In some of his coins, he added the name of his beloved wife Noorjahan. The most famous of his coins had images of Zodiac signs.