Coinage of Ahom

16 Feb 2018  Fri

Ahom coinage makes fascinating study as it offers a unique case of tracing history and evolution of a culture and an economy, from it coins.

Their early coins conveyed their devotion to tribal gods who were later identified with Hindu gods. Further, their initial coins bore Ahom legends in Ahom script which gradually made way for Sanskrit legends in the Assamese script with the year of issue quoted in Saka era as prevalent in the contemporary Hindu coinage. However, most importantly, their coinage traces the steady growth and development of their economy from barter to a money economy.

But over time, responding to the limitations of barter transactions, the Ahom ruler started issuing coins to facilitate indirect exchange. Though there are early references to coins being issued by rulers in obeisance to deities as well as later references to the minting of coins on the accession to the throne of Ahom princes or religious grants. The earliest discovered rupee coins are of Jayadhawaja Simha issued in 1648 A.D. although the inscription and general design of these first coins of the Ahom kingdom were copied from the coins of Cooch Behar.

The striking features of Ahom coins made predominantly of silver and were octagonal in shape. The uniqueness of the shape has invited numerous explanations. This octagonal silver rupee coin weighed 11.3 grams and had a lion carved at the bottom of it. It had legends imbibed in the Ahom language.

The most interesting coins of the series are those minted in the region of Shiva Simha and Rajesvara Simha. Queen Pramathesvari, wife of Siva Shiva, for the first time broke away the tradition by striking at Gargaon in 1651 a square coin with Persian script. Rajesvara Simha again issued different forms of coins almost throughout his reign. In addition to the ordinary octagonal coins in Assamese script from Rangpur, he also issued square coins in Assamese script. Besides these, he issued octagonal coins in Devanagari characters in Saka 1675, and one octagonal series with Persian script was issued in Saka 1685 from Rangpur.

Image Courtesy:- Todywalla Auctions