Time to go back in time from the 8th century to 12th century, also called as the medieval age of Indian history! This period was marked by the rise and fall of many states and empires particularly after the Arab and Turkish invasions. Though the Turks had conquered Persia, their culture was heavily influenced by the Persian traditions. After the establishment of Sultanate of Delhi, there were a series of dynasties who ruled different regions of India. With the changing administrations, currency and coinage of Medieval India also evolved to depict the magnificent art, literature and architecture from this flourishing era.
Medieval India Coinage saw a phase of experimentation under the regime of Muhammad Bin Tughlaq, who introduced the concept of token currency. Exceeding in numbers by a fair margin as compared to his predecessor, he inscribed his character and activities to produce gold coins in abundance. These coins were characterised by fine calligraphy and a number of fractional denominations. With his power and an interest in experimenting, he enforced his currency making him the greatest moneyers of Indian history though it wasn’t a great success.
Another remarkable mention in the history of Medieval coins of India is during the rule of Sultan of Malwas. A fascinating note about the Malwa coinage is that they carry many different mintmarks. Coins issued under Mahmud Shah II holds a special historical value as it records a date of 939! It is evident from this fact that either his regime lasted longer or coins were issued in his name longer than expected time period as he tried to win long battles against Ibrahim Lodi, Rana Sangram of Mewar and Bahadur Shah of Gujarat.
It was when Akbar came to power under the Mughal administration that Rupee came into existence, making it the primary highlight of Medieval coins in India. Khwaja Abdus Samad Shirazi was appointed as the head of the imperial mint at Delhi In 1577 as the emperor made strategies to reform of the coins and currency of his times. All the coins of various metals like Rupee (silver), Jalali (square shaped silver), Jital (copper), Ilahi (gold) Shahanshah (large gold) were known for its ‘purity of metal, fullness of weight and artistic execution’. Akbar laid strong scientific foundation for coinage, and his work has been highly regarded by modern numismatists.
Coinage under Emperor Sher Shah Suri saw a refreshing transformation. He minted and issued a huge number of new silver coins which was later known as dam. He fixed a rate for the copper and silver coins and abolished all old and mixed metal currency coins. All his exemplary and innovative ideas improved convenience in trading considerably. This rupee minus its inscription was even retained by the English East India Company up to 1835. You can say that the genesis of modern day Rupee happened under his supervision. That’s the reason why prominent numismatists always talk highly about this impressive visionary, when it comes to coins in Medieval India.
That’s not it. There are a lot more dynasties in Medieval history of India, who made their contribution to coinage of India. Get, set, explore!