The Great Kushanas, a branch of Yue-Chih tribe, ruled over a wide spread area stretching from part of the territory now in Soviet Central Asia to the interior of the Indian subcontinent. They issued different types of coins in gold, silver and copper which are important sources to know about them. Its study begins in 1830 with the discoveries of coins from Manikiyala Tope (Punjab) by Gen. Ventura, an army officer in the service of Ranjit Singh. After that several coins of the Kushanas have been discovered and the studies of scholars contributed much in the field of the Kushana numismatics. The scope of the present work is to compile and present in a systematic manner the varied evidence of the Kushana coinage in regard to the representation of king, deities, headdress and clothing, legend, script, symbol, technique and to list the coin-types of the Great Kushanas. The survey will be useful for the student to study them with interest along with their detailed description and illustration.
Dr. Arvind K. Singh (b. 1959) is a faculty in the School of Studies in Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology, Jiwaji University, Gwalior (India). He obtained his Master's Degree in two disciplines, Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology; and Museology and a Ph.D. from Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. Dr. Singh was awarded the University Medal and Anant Sadashiv Altekar Medal for securing first position in order of merit in M.A. examination. Banaras Hindu University Scholarship, Junior Fellowship of University Grants Commission, Senior Fellowship of Indian Council of Historical Research and Senior Fellowship of American Institute of Indian Studies were awarded to him for research work. Dr. Singh is deeply involved in researches for the last sixteen years or so, mostly in the fields of palaeography, epigraphy and numismatics. He has more than three dozen research papers to his credit published in reputed journals. His other book are:
- Development of Nagari Script, Parimal Publication, Delhi, 1991.
- Corpus of the Lichchhavi Inscriptions of Nepal (Jointly with Dr. T.P. Verma), Ramanand Vidya Bhavan, Delhi, 1994.
- Prachin Bharatiya Murtikala evam Chitrakala (Hindi), Madhya Pradesh Hindi Granth Academy, Bhopal, 1994.
The study of the Kushana coinage begins in 1830 with the discoveries of coins from Manikiyala Tope (Punjab) by Gen. Ventura, an army officer in the service of Ranjit Singh. After that several coins have been discovered as from North West Frontier Province and Afghanistan (Jalalabad, Begram, Yusufzai country, Peshawar, Sahri Bahlol, Mardan Tahsil), Punjab (Manikiyala Tope No. 1-2, Kutanwala Pind, Pathan Kot, Khaira Dih, Ransia, Kanhiara, Kalka- Kasauli Road, Padham, Sunit, Shakarkot, Machrata mound, Taxila), Uttar Pradesh (Mathura, Hastinapur, Kasia, Bhita, Sahet Mahet, Sankisa), Madhya Pradesh (Sanchi, Indo-Khera mound), Orissa (Sisupalgarh), Nepalese Tarai (Bua Dih), Bihar (Lauria Nandangarh, Bodh-Gaya, Pataliputra, Ratan Tara, Kumrahar and Bulandibag, Buxur hoard, Vaisali, Ranchi), Bengal (Mahasthan, Midnapur District) and from outside India (Chinese Turkestan, Southern Russia, some parts of Afghanistan). The studies of Masson, Princep, Wilson Rochette, Jacquet, Lasson, Cunningham, Rodgers, Gardner, Sallet, Rapson, Stein, Smith, Whitehead, D.R. Bhandarkar, R.D. Banerjee, Altekar, Major Allan H. Wood, J.N. Banerjea, A.K. Narain, A.L. Basham, A.D.H. Bivar, Mac-Dowell, R. Gobl, Satya Shrava, B.N. Mukherjee and others contributed a lot in the field of the Kushana Numismatics. My aim has been not to present each detail and every theory relating to Kushana coinage and history in this small monograph but to prepare a primer of the coins of the Great Kushanas. In fact, my object has been to compile and present in a systematic manner the varied evidences of the Kushana coinage in regard to the representation of kings, deities, headdress and clothing, legends, scripts, symbols, technique and to list the coin-types of the Great Kushanas who ruled over a wide spread area stretching from part of the territory now in Soviet Central Asia to the interior of the Indian subcontinent. The survey, perhaps, will be useful for the student to study them with interest along with their detailed description and illustration.
Kushanas gathered influences from almost all of their subjects and evolved a composite culture of their own. A bewildering number of deities belonging to different pantheons appear on the coins of Kanishka I and Huvishka, the number of which declined from the time of Vasudeva I and coins betray some regional features. The obverse of the Kushana coins bear royal figures appear in different pose of standing, seating, riding, royal bust, head etc. Stylistically, whereas the reverse devices reveal features of the Gandhara and Mathura schools, those of the obverse affiliated mainly to the Bactrian school. The legends of the Kadphises group are bi-lingual and biscriptual: (i) the Bactrian language and Greek script on the obverse (ii) the Prakrit language and Kharoshthi script on the reverse. Plausibly, from the last phase of the Vima rule the use of Prakrit language and Kharoshthi script disappeared. Kanishka introduced the epithet ‘Shaonano Shao' and the name of deities in Greek on the reverse. However, 'a few characters in Kharoshthi and/or Brahmi script occur on the coins of Kujula Kadphises, Vasudeva and his successors. The Kushana currency consisted of issue in gold, silver and copper. Vima's gold coins are known in three denominations-double dinara (C 15.96 gms.), dinara (C 7.93 gins.) and quarter dinara (C 2 gms.) while copper are in tetradrachm (C 17 gms.) didrachm (C 8 gms.) and drachm (C 4 gms.). The content and weight of gold as well copper gradually decreased in which the weight and the intrinsic metal value of the copper tetradrachm has been reduced by about 50 percent, whereas the real value of the dinara had only been reduced by about 6.3 percent.
A study of the Great Kushanas coin types is very interesting and revealing. A short descriptions of the type and a reference to the illustration of the type is given. The complete legends are mentioned at the head of each section and while describing the coin types they are referred as (a), (b) etc. Although many minor variations of type have been included but do not claim this to be exhaustive list and I shall thankfully receive new information.
In general, the author feels oblige and expresses his thanks to all the sources in the form of books, monographs and articles from which any information is drawn and recorded in the folldwing pages. Some of them are found mention in Bibliography.
I would like to express my thanks to Dr. T.P. Verma for suggesting the topic and providing some source materials. For moral support and encouragement, I am thankful to Professor R.N. Misra, Dr. R.P. Pandey and could not ignore the help of wife, Usha and daughter, Ankita. My thanks are also due to Sri U.S. Sharma and Sri D.D. Misra for their kind support.
Lastly, the author express his deep gratitude to Shri K.L.Joshi, M/s Parimal Publications not only for undertaking the publication of this work but also for publishing within the minimum period of the time and with best possible get-up and printing.
The small Kushana kingdom, founded in the second half of the first century B.C., gradually grew into a vast empire stretching from parts of the territory now in Soviet Central Asia to the interiors of the Indian subcontinent, which was comprised of several cultures and stocks of people. Plausibly, they were influenced by their subjects, lived in a queer mixture of cultures and evolved a composite culture of their own. The Kushana empire continued with varying limits up to about the middle of the third century A.D. when a large part of its was annexed to the Sassanid empire.
The history of Kushanas before their arrived in India can be divided into three periods: nomadic wandering, settlement in Bactira, and unification and aggrandizement. The Kushanas are a branch of the nomadic Yueh-Chih tribe who lived in the west of Huang-ho river in the province of Kan-su and Ning-hsia of China. Another nomadic tribe, Hiung-nu, killed the leader of the Yueh-Chih tribe and driven them out of their Chinese homeland by c 165 B.C. which led to the great migration of the Yueh-Chih towards. the west. The Yueh-Chih fought with two other confederations, and after overcoming various ups and downs the main body of the tribe conquered Bactria. They settled in the Oxus region. The nation is divided into five principalities ruled by five distinct chiefs. The Chinese texts, tells us that the Yueh-Chih, who invaded Ta-hsia, divided their country among five hsi- hou of Hsu-mi, Shuang-mi, Kuei-shuang, Hsi-tun and Tu-mi. More than a hundred years later, the hsi-hou of Kuei-shuang Ch'iu-chiu-ch'ueh (Kujula Kadphises) attacked and destroyed the other four hsi-hou and became their king. Besides, the political unification of Ta-hia under the domination of the Kushanas he invading An-hsi, taking Kao-fu, destroying Pu-ta and Chi-pin and completely possessing their territory. Thus he became lord of the Indian borderland. Kujula Kadphises died at the age of eighty living his son Yen-Kao-chen (Vima Kadphises) as his successor. Vima Kadphises is credited with the conquest of the Indian interior. Some scholars inclined to identify the so called nameless king (i.e. Soter Megas) with Vima Kadphises for which his Elephant Rider coin type is the best supporter. In accepting this view we can say that Vima Kadphises was succeeded by Kanishka who penetrated his power to the interior of northern India 'and established a central authority over a vast territory stretching from the Oxus region to Banaras. To assist in administration he appointed Mahakshatrapa Kharapallana and Kshatrapa Vanaspara as governors of eastern part, general Lalla and kshatrapa Vespasi and Liaka in the northern part of his empire. Among his successors, Huvishka's coins are known in various types. Thomas is of the view that there were two Huvishka while most of the scholars did not agree with him. Kanishka II is known as the son of Vasishka though we have not as yet recognised any coin attributed to him. The last great Kushana king was Vasudeva I, from the time of whose the decline of the Kushana power in the north-west was hastened by the rise of the Sassanid dynasty of Persia, and emergence of some local and tribal dynasty. Numismatic evidence only furnishes us with the names of Kanishka and Vasudeva as the successors of Vasudeva I.
REPRESENTATION OF KING
The representation of kings on the obverse of the Kushana coins are interesting and of noteworthy in their variations and characteristic features. These can be seen, among other things, in different gesture and posture of the kings so seating, standing, riding figure, or in the depiction of bust or head of the king. It can also be noticed in the objects hold in king's hand like club, sword, spear, trident, standard, flower and tree-branch. The portraiture of kings have some divine marks, such as the royal bust emerging from clouds, flames emanating from shoulders, august head shown in a square frame and nimbus. Interestingly enough, Huvishka was the first ruler who show himself with a disc nimbus around his head on his coinage while other marks of divinity were introduced by Vima Kadphises. In a view the divine and super-human power of the king was inspired by Roman coins. The propagation of divinity marks by Kushana rulers is also evident from the titles used by them in coins like `sarvalogaiivarasa mahiSvarasa' and in inscriptions such as the Kushana kings were called 'clevaputra' (son of god) in the Mathura inscriptions, `bagopouro' (son of god) in the inscription of Surkh Kotal.
It seems that the divine feature is not associated with figure of the king on the coins of Kujula Kadphises. The king is shown seated on curule chair; facing right and cross-legged. He wears a head-dress with a knob at top and his right hand is extended. In other form, king's diademed head is adorned with a peculiar horned helmet.
On the coins of Vima Kadphises the king is not represented only with some signs of divinity but also shown in different forms.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Item Code: NAR255 Author: Arvind K. Singh Cover: HARDCOVER Edition: 1996 Publisher: Parimal Publication Pvt. Ltd. ISBN: 8171101271 Language: English Size: 10.00 X 7.50 inch Pages: 148 (Throughout B/W Illustrations) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0.5 Kg