Coinage of Tripura Kingdom

Origin of the name of Tripura is still a matter of controversy among historians and researchers. According to the ‘Rajmala”, Tripura’s celebrated court chronicle, an ancient king named ‘Tripura’ ruled over the territorial domain known as ‘Tripura’ and the name of the kingdom was derived from his name. Many researchers explain the name ‘Tripura’ from its etymological origin: the word ‘Tripura’ is a compound of two separate words, ‘twi’ (water) + ‘pra’ (near) which in totality means ‘near water’. The geographical location of the state with its close proximity to the vast water resources of eastern Bengal coupled with the generic identity of the state’s original inhabitants as ‘Tipra’ or ‘Twipra’ apparently justify this explanation of the State’s name. [1] Tripura is claimed to be one of the oldest Princely States of ancient India. The princely rulers of Tripura claimed to have been descended from the Yoyati of the Lunar Dynasty of the Mahabharata. One of the chief sources to study the history, society, economy and culture of Tripura is the Coinage of Tripura Kingdom


The history of the Coinage of Tripura Kingdom starts with the Manikya Dynasty of Tripura. The Manikya dynasty was the ruling house of the Twipra Kingdom. We find in the sources that during the first half of the fifteenth century, Maha Manikya and his son Dharma Manikya ruled the country and these two kings were probably the first to assume the title Manikya a title that was taken by all subsequent rulers of the state.[2]  The Manikya kings of Tripura issued coins in their names and as a royal issue, the coins of Tripura were the emblems of royalty and also a symbolic majesty of the Tripura kings. The Coinage of  Tripura Kingdom is as important as epigraphy, literary sources or other sources of information regarding the history of Tripura as we come across different types of coins that have produced many effective records in Tripura history. The kingdom of Tripura provides us the most remarkable and longest series of coins of North East India and covers a period of five hundred years.


According to Rajmala after the death of Dharma Manikya, Ratna Manikya took the charge of the state after defeating his other brothers with the help of the Muslim Sultan of Bengal, Ruknuddin Barbak Saha. 11 Ratna Manikya while in Gour, the then capital of Bengal, noticed the use of silver coin in the trade and transaction. So when Ratna Manikya assumed power he struck silver coins in his own name, probably bringing Muslim metal workers from Bengal to work in his mint. In this way, coins were introduced in the state of Tripura and the subsequent rulers of Tripura followed the tradition of minting coins until the first half of the 20th century. The last Tripura king, who issued ceremonial coins, was Viravikramakishor Manikya in 1951.[3]


Features of Coinage of  Tripura Kingdom:

The Coinage of Tripura Kingdom is entirely Hindu in their design and inspiration.

One of the reasons behind their issue may have been as political demonstration of independence but the types are so numerous and varied that there must have been other motives for their issue.

The weight standard adopted by Ratna Manikya was identical to that used by the Muslim Sultans.

Two series of coins circulated alongside each other, although it is significant that coins of Tripura are very rarely found outside the Historic territory of Tripura.

All Tripura coins are in the Bengali script but the language used is Sanskrit.

It was Ratna Manikya (1386 Shaka) who started the Coinage of Tripura Kingdom. His coins bear a close resemblance, in design and weight-standard, to the Bengal Sultanate coinage of that period.


Lion Type:

Among all the Important types of Tripura Coins the Lion type is very common and the basic Type. It is believed that the Lion type coin of the Tripura shows sticking similarity with the coins of the Sultanate. The inscribed linear lion in Ratna Manikya’s coin was directly borrowed from the coinage of Sultan Nasir Uddin Mahmud.


Coinage of Tripura Kingdom


The Lion Type Coins of Tripura is a peculiar one. The coin depicts a linear lion either facing left or right. Most of the coins of Tripura Kingdom have Ratnapura Lion facing either left / right on the obverse and three or four-line legend on the reverse. The lion is etched inside a border of beaded annulets and has a date inscribed over. The lion insignia symbolizes power; it is also the vehicle of the goddess Durga. The lion is seemed to be changing time with the passage of time. The strong lines and bold depiction of the lion seem to be changing as the lines get thinner and the shape gets distorted.


Queen Type Coin.


Coinage of Tripura Kingdom


The most striking feature of the Coinage of Tripura Kingdom is the name of his Queen inscribed on the coins. In the whole numismatic history of this subcontinent, there are only five instances where the Queen’s name is inscribed on the coin along with the King. The reason behind this is mostly the predominance of the Queen at that particular phase of time. Like other coins, this tradition of fashion was initiated by Ratna Manikya and continued till the end.  The name of the queen always comes with the name of the king and is inscribed inside an ornamented border.


Deity Type

The study of the Coinage of Tripura Kingdom is incomplete without the mention of the depiction of deities on the coins. Manikya Kings are devoted, Hindu kings. The portrayal of an adequate number of pantheons confirms their belief system and religious value. Though Ratna Manikya (1386 Shaka) was the first to strike coins, Deities on Tripura Coins appear during the Times of Vijay Manikya. Vijay Manikya’s, (1454 Shaka). The deities portrayed on the Coins of the Tripura Kingdom are as follows.



The most unique of the Depiction of Deities on Tripura Coins is the Aradhanarishvara. The royal lineages of Manikya dynasty were the follower of Shaivite beliefs and it was beautifully illustrated on their coinage. This form of Ardhanarishvara is also about a new start and development. Hence, this silver tanka was minted to commemorates a ritual bath that King Vijay Manikya I took in River Lakhi (Brahmaputra’s tributary) which was undertaken during a raid into Muslim Territory. This Tanka of Tripura depicts the Ardhanarishvara in a seated form with a bull in left and lion on right and Saka date in exergue within a designed border

Coinage of Tripura Kingdom


Apart from Shiva, Tripura coins depict the Vaishnav sect. Vaishnav Deities on Tripura Coins include Krishna and Vishnu! Lord Krishna is believed to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Manikya kings such as Vijay Manikya, Yasho Manikya, and Anant Manikya issues coins depicting Krishna. The coins depict Krishna Krishna standing on a lion or a cow facing left, playing the flute. He is surrounded by gopis. One of the best specimens of Ananta Manikya’s coins is the one which has Krishna on it. It is a silver Tanka which weighs around 10.72g. The obverse of the coin portrays Lord Krishna playing the flute, standing on a dais with female attendants on either of his sides holding flowers.


Furthermore, it could be stated that Ratna Manikya’s Chaturdashdevata coins are an outstanding example of the Coinage of Tripura Kingdom. The coins depict fourteen vertical lines with a garland encircling it which gives the visual impression of tughra writing in the Sultani coins. The coins also come with religious invocations epithet of his coins such as Parvati Parameshvara Charana parau, Shri Shri Durga Radha Napta Vijaya Ratnapure, etc. clearly indicate his liberal-mindedness as far as religious beliefs are concerned


Dharma Manikya was the Last King of the Manikya Dynasty. During this time onwards the kingdom of Tripura gradually became politically unstable; naturally, the number of coins issued also decreased. By the second half of the 19th century, the coins were struck fully by machines in their own mints. The Coinage of Tripura Kingdom are some of the finest specimens of regional calligraphy, numismatic execution, and iconographic representation in the whole history of the coinage of this subcontinent



[3] Nicholas Rhodes and S.K. Bose, The Coinage of Tripura

The Mintage World Team comprises of experts, researchers and writers from the field of Philately, Notaphily and Numismatics who try to shed light on some of the most interesting aspects of coins, banknotes and stamps from not just India but across the globe as well.

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