Goddess Kali on Indo-Dutch Coin

02 Jan 2021  Sat

In the last decade of the 16th century, The Dutch vessels sailed to the coast of India and in next couple of years, The United East India Company of the Netherlands was granted a monopoly of trade for 21 years. An extensive series of coins were struck for general circulation in the east by the Dutch East India Company. Initially, the coins were struck at the mints from the homeland of the Dutch. In 1662 it was granted the half Mint Custom by a concession of the Nayak of Tanjore.

This Copper Stuiver is one of the extraordinary examples of Dutch East India Company coinage. Based on the weight the copper Stuivers also come in different denominations such as 50, 25 and 5 Cash. This coin is a beautiful example of how a foreign power adopts native beliefs and is absorbed into the local society.

The obverse of this coin depicts a degenerated figure of goddess Kali of Tanjore with two annulets to her left and a club and a thick dot on her right. A flower-like pattern of seven dots is seen in the centre of figure that may represent the breasts of the goddess and 4 dots are seen below.

Crude Tamil legend NAkaPa / TTaNaM divided by a horizontal line enclosed in a dotted circle is seen on the reverse. Use of letter “ka” instead of “ga” is a common practice to write Tamil especially when it appears in the centre of a word. The legend also shows an unusual style of writing joint letter “tta” is a form of a zig-zag line.

Image Courtesy: bombayauctions.com

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