The Bull and Horseman coins were first issued by the Hindu Shahi kings ruling the Gandhara or Kabul region during the second half of 9th century CE. Probably introduced by Spalapatideva, these silver and copper coins depicted a sitting bull on one side and a horse-rider holding a long lance on the other.
The designs are variably executed on the coins and have been issued by all the Shahi kings, most important of who is Samantadeva. The design has been adopted on the coins of rulers of different dynasties in India including the Tomaras, Sallaksha?apala, Anangapala, Madanapala Deva, the Chahmanas of Shakambari, Someshwaradeva, and Prithviraja. Shri Pipala, a ruler belonging to an unknown dynasty, issued coins of this type with the legend ‘Ku?ama?a Samantadeva’ on the side with the bull. A few crude coins bear no inscription on the ‘Horseman’ side. Inscriptions found on the ‘Bull’ side include ‘Shri Mahipaladeva’, ‘Shri Astapaladeva’, and ‘Shri Amritpala’. The former is attributed to the Tomaras.
Last in the series are those issued by Malayavarman of the Pratiharas, Chaha?adeva, Asalladeva, and Ga?apati of the Jajapella dynasty which ruled Narwar. Their coins only depict one of the two motifs seen on the Shahi coins. Somalekha Devi, queen of the Shakambari ruler, Ajayadeva, also issued coins bearing the ‘Horseman’ motif on the obverse and her name on the reverse.
Image Courtesy: Classical Numismatic Gallery