Learning to Decipher the Copper Coins of Akbar Part I: The Fundamentals.
Welcome to the World of the Copper Coins of Akbar.
(the work will also be available through Academia) As we progress through presenting our work published by Manohar Publishers of Delhi we receive a great deal of assistance from our cooperating research group. However with the coins of Akbar we are seeking assistance from outside our usual group. Many of the photographs provided for this series of Blogs have been provided by our cooperative team. We have thousands of photographs, thousands of pages of research and seen thousands of coins but Akbar's coins, notably at this stage his copper coins, produce a wonderment for research. Not only for research but also for collecting because many of them can be found quite cheaply. They contain on their inscriptions and great variety of historical evidence for Akbar's rule. However even the simplest appear to undecipherable to many collectors. With the advent of the overlay technique by co-author Tariq as demonstrated in our books that have found increasing favour with coin collectors, numismatists and the technical community at large we can bring to everyone the understanding of what is on the coins. The work will also be presented on Academia.
Above is a rather simple but very special coin. It sits, by appearance, outside the norm. These are the small things we need to look at, check and understand.
For collectors the copper coins present a wonderful opportunity to collect by many themes. These can be, just to name a few, by size, by mint, by year and by type of which there are a number. So welcome to our world and help us with our research so all can benefit. Perhaps you will discover something new!
UNDERSTANDING THE CALLIGRAPHY ON THE COINS: THE THEORY OF CLOSET FIT.
In the introduction we introduced a theme for learning inscriptions. That is the "THEORY OF CLOSET FIT". It is exceedingly difficult to learn and understand the language used on many coins from the sub-continent. To fully attribute and correctly collect the coins there is a need to understand what is inscribed on them. At least that is necessary if you wish to get beyond collecting just by size. Here what were once viewed as major problems start. Although in most cases the calligraphy is good certain what could be called liberties are taken. Letters can be missing or elongated in form, vowels can be missing or apparently misplaced and so the list goes on. With our development of actual colour overlays on the inscribed calligraphy we can demonstrate what is actually written on the coin to peel away the layers step by step but first we must learn the basic words that appear on the coins. Some coins have few words and other coins have many but each combination plays in part in ascertaining what exact type of coin it is. Of course we have further problems because in many cases the dies made for the coins are bigger than the coin flans themselves. So the aim of course is to find coins with the most complete inscriptions on them. Our first step in learning will be to learn to recognise the numbers on the coins. Then we will move on to learning the other words. This is a step by step process and after the simple process is completed we will be left, for the starting type of coins, with the mint name and at times an addition to the mint name which is called an epithet. The epithet describes and official title given to the mint town. These may change, added or dropped over time. So now we will learn the numbers. But wait numbers on some coins are written in numeric and on others in alpha (the date is spelled out) and on some coins in both which is great for checking. Oh wait more, on some other coins a new dating system is used. Relax we will work through each number step by step.
THE REIGN OF AKBAR
The notes below are taken from our general manuscript notes in our published books. The note of III next is Akbar's name denotes he is the third ruler of the Mughal Empire. The note of (NT 115) refers to the coding used for Akbar in our work. III. AKBAR (NT 115) جلال الدین محمد اکبر Full Name HM Al-Sultan al-'Azam wal Khaqan al-Mukarram, Imam-i-'Adil, Sultan ul-Islam Kaffatt ul-Anam, Amir ul-Mu'minin, Khalifat ul-Muta'ali Abu'l-Fath Jalal ud-din Muhammad Akbar I Sahib-i-Zaman, Badshah Ghazi Zillu'llah Birth Name: Badr ud-din Muhammad Akbar Royal Lineage: Son of Emperor Humayun Date of Birth: 4 Rajab 949 (October 14, 1542) Place of Birth: Umarkot Fort, Sind Reign Years: 963-1014 (1556-1605) Date of Death: 24 Jumada t-Tania 1014 (October 27, 1605) Place of Death: Fatehpur Sikri Resting Place: Bihishtabad Sikandara, near Agra
Akbar, on ascending the throne, immediately set about a coinage reform. The introduction of the gold Ashrafi and the silver Rupee in the same weight and style as the interregnal Suri rulers of Humayun's reign set the tone for the coinage tradition for the whole Mughal rule. Copper coins were minted from an increasing number of mints. There were variations in type and style of coins with round and square coins in silver and gold being introduced. The Kalma is placed on the obverse of the gold coins and remains on the new silver coins. Akbar also introduced a new method of dating in the thirtieth year of his reign called the Ilahi system in which the months from the Persian calendar were placed on the coin as a method of dating as well as the AH year. At this time a new statement was made on the obverse "Allahu Akbar Jalla Jalala" (which is commonly used by the followers of Islam, historically around the world. The statement literally means “God is the greatest, His brightness shines forth”. For the first time this statement was used on coins.
THE COPPER COINAGE OF AKBAR (GENERAL NOTES)
Following the Suri interregnum during the reign of Akbar's father Humayun, it was decided to follow the Suri introduced series of coins. Over the long reign of Akbar several new size series were introduced. These provided for a complete system of change for the users of the lowest value coins in the kingdom noting that coins of gold and silver were also produced. It should not be forgotten that humble money consisting for example of cowrie shells and bitter almonds were used as the lowest form of exchange. As in all currencies there is an exchange rate between sizes and metals. Although exchange rates did vary from time to time and place to place but for the purpose of this exercise an exchange rate of 40 Dam (the standard copper coin weighing on average just over 20 grams each) to 1 Rupee (the standard silver coin weighing approximately 11.5 grams each). The copper coins were produced in various weights and the weights were in direct relationship to their value. That is to say a coin of half the weight of another coin of the same metal was worth half the value. In fact over the reign of Akbar a number of series of copper coins were produced so that various combinations of change from transactions could be given. With this it has become convenient to call various coins by specific names. Some names actually appear on the coins while others do not. 1. The Original or DAM Series. Noted on the coins by the word FALUS in general. When we investigate step by step their may be more added to each series. DAM 20.4 grams. (All weights approximately) HALF DAM 10.2 grams. Also called Adhela or Nisfi QUARTER DAM 5 grams. Also called Paulah or Damra EIGHTH DAM 2.5 grams. Also called Damri 2. The TANKA Series. Here sits some confused because coins of both twice the weight of the DAM and equal to the weight of the Dam are called TANKA. TANKA 40.8 grams HALF TANKA 20.4 grams. Also called NEEM Tanka on the coins. Note: some coins of the DAM weight are inscribed "TANKA". QUARTER TANKA 10.2 grams. Also called CHARHARAM HISSA Tanka. EIGHTH TANKA 5 grams. Also called HASHSTUM HISSA Tanka. SIXTEENTH TANKA 2.5 grams. Also called SHANJDAHUM HISSA Tanka. 3. The TANKI Series The one TANKI equals one fifth of the weight of a DAM or one tenth the weight of a TANKA TANKI 4 grams. Also called YAK Tanki TWO TANKI 7.8 grams. Also called DO Tanki FOUR TANKI 15.8 grams. Also called CHO Tanki 4. The JITAL Once thought to be merely a coin of account it is by weight one fiftieth of a Tanka and therefore one thousandth of a Rupee. General Note. Other types will be found but as this is purely an introduction these will be added as special types when we progress through the series. The various sizes provide fertile ground for collectors.
A DAM of Akbar carrying wonderful inscriptions. Now we are about to embark on a journey of discovery to decipher these magnificent coins.
Zarb Alf Falus
Urdu Zafar Qarin
A proforma page from our upcoming work on Akbar showing the coin above and mint number etc.
A full dictionary will also be provided step by step as we work our way through the coins. This coin is wonderfully simple and shows on a beautiful clear strike all the information available.