Nanda Punch Marked Coins

16 Sep 2020  Wed

Punch Marked coins are the earliest coins issued in India. Dating to between about the 6th and 2nd centuries BCE, these coins are a fascinating yet mysterious part of the Indian Coinage. As the name suggests, the coins are metal sheets with symbols punched on them. The punch-marked coins care called as Karshapanas or Pana in Puranas.

The study of the relative chronology of these coins has successfully established that the first punch-marked coins initially only had one or two punches, with the number of punches increasing over time. Several of these coins had a single symbol, for example, Saurashtra had a humped bull, and Dakshin Panchala had a Swastika, others, like Magadha, had several symbols.

The above coin is a Punch Marked Coin of the Nanda Dynasty of Magadha. Magadha's earliest coins were dumpy silver 35-mashaka pieces of roughly 7.6 gm. that featured a single "6-arm symbol" punch. Around 420 BCE, the 25-mashaka denomination was replaced by a karshapana standard of roughly 3.5 gm. At first, the karshpanas continued to feature four punches, but quite soon this was changed to a five punch design.

The five symbols on this coin are the Sun symbol, six-armed (Magadha) symbol, a bull on a hilltop, Indradhvaja flanked by four taurines, elephant. The obverse is plain with a single punch of three-arched hill topped by a crescent.

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