Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Learning Kashmir's Rich History Through Numismatics

Iqbal bring the age of Kushans to light through coins minted in the 2nd Century A.D.

(Mr. Iqbal Ahmad, 48, was born in Parigam Chek, Kulgam. He is a graduate with Diploma in Numismatics, Archaeology and Heritage. He is an archaeologist, writer, and a cultural historian. He is employed by the Jammu and Kashmir State Government. Mr. Iqbal Ahmad has published 12 reference books on Kashmir archaeology and heritage.)

The unique Kushan coins

In numerous passages of the Rajatarangni and other chronicles of Jonaraja, Srivara and Kshenedra, there are reference to term dinara to have served as a monetary token in ancient Kashmir.

Perhaps Kashmiri term dyar also reflected the same name when we say dyar-wol we mean any person possessing huge sums. Dinar has been a very popular term used in terms of monetary token in ancient Kashmir and its influence have been so strong that locally even today the term is very often used. Scholars have been identifying this dinar with ancient gold coin, issued by Kushana princes in early centuries of the Christian era. Although the term dinar later got wrongly used in literatures for mentioning of other coins too but the term actually refers to the Kushan gold coin.

The copper coins of Kushans and tetra dirhams are commonly known from Kashmir. Numismatists and Archaeologists have found thousands of Kushan dirhams and tetra dirhmas and several dinars from various places of Kashmir. There are several such types, which have been found and believed to have been current here while few of those types are viewed to have been exclusively issued to meet the currency requirements of this province. Such coins are known as provincial series coins, numismatists like Cunningham, Roshan Field, David Macdowell, Michel Mitchner and several others have got this view. I personally feel that such coin types as are found were not only current here but also minted somewhere within Kashmir borders.

One such earlier copper coin type of Kujula Kadphsis is of bull and camel type depicting camel on one side and bull on the other side of the coin. Perhaps, is the earliest Kushan type coin found in Kashmir. This type has been found absent in the Kujulas Afghanistan finds as the study undertaken by noted numismatists Dr. David Macdowell. He has come across few pieces from Khotan region, G B Bleazby and R C Kak have recorded few pieces of this type from Kashmir. The type on obverse bears humped bull and on reverse humped camel. In year 1987 state Archaeology Department came across three copper pieces of this earlier Kushan coin at village Maidan Chagul in frontier district of Kupwara. These coins are in poor condition but could be deciphered as Bull Came type coins.

Carrying the motif of humped bull walking to right on obverse and camel as well walking to right on reverse. The letters of the Kharoshti legend are partly visible. This discovery was followed by a remarkable purchase of small coins of this type called dirhams by the state Museum authorities at Srinagar. About one hundred coins of Bull camel type coins were purchased by the Museum management in 1996. These coins could easily be denominated as drachms (dirhams) and I am hundred percent sure that such coins were definitely minted to meet the domestic currency needs of Kashmir province. Not only this but such type was found absent in other finds of the empire and also assumed to have been minted somewhere in Kashmir. My investigations of few numismatic collections revealed number of such smaller Bull camel type coins. I could see them in several kgs once in the Zarab Khana Bazar of olden city of Srinagar.

My observations and investigations led me to believe that as such coins were found exclusive in Kashmir hence these have had to be minted in Kashmir. I could also found several forgeries of this type, which speaks of the popularity of this coin type. Another types of Kujula found in Kashmir are Bust/Pallas type and Roman head/seated king type coins but these two types are extremely rare, I could not find any such type in Kashmir collections but few other numismatists had claimed of their such discoveries. Kujula’s coin finds are followed by a single type of unknown king tilled on his coins as Sotar Megas. This is his imperial issue, of which few pieces are recorded in numismatic cabins of SPS Museum, Lal Mandi, Srinagar. The obverse carries Heliocles but and on reverse mounted horseman. Vima Kudphsis few gold and copper coins in standing king and Siva Nandi type are also know from Kashmir.

I could see few of its copper pieces in a private collection. There is standing king on obverse offering something to fire altar while the reverse has given way to Siva Nandi motif. Siva is shown standing with his typical common vehicles Nandi (Bull).

Vima’s provincial series coins are not known from anywhere, perhaps he did not struck his money in provincial series. Kanishka was the most popular Kushan monarch of Kashmir. His gold and copper coins are very much known in Kashmir. Like his other coin finds, the local finds also displayed various Indian and Persian deities on their reverse. This is the specialty of his coins found in Kashmir.

Michel Mitchener and David Macdowell (European numismatists) have recorded several provincial series coins of this prince. I could see his two gold dinars in the numismatic cabins of the Srinagar Museum. The obverse of these coins bears typical standing Kushan figure introduced by Vima and the reverse of the one depicts Iranian goddess MAo (Moon God) while on the other Indian Oesho of Siva. The reverse of copper coins of Kaniska have also displayed Oesho and MAO. The remarkable numismatic discovery of Kushan period came from Bandipura area of North Kashmir in 1987.

These were two hoards of provincial series coins of 137 and 339 respectively. I could decipher 238 coins out of these two hoards. The obverse of these coins displayed typical Kushan dressed standing figure of the king and the reverse depicted different Iranian and Indian deities.

Following are the types classified on the basis of reverse of these coins.
Nana 109
Oesho 50
Ordo 3
MAO 24
Miro 37

Huviska’s gold and copper coins are also known from Kashmir. I could see one gold coin depicting half-length figure of the king with Greek legend Oeski on obverse and depicting Miro (Sun god) on the reverse. But I could not see any copper coin either in imperial series or in local series of this king in Kashmir collection. Few crudely devised provincial series copper coins numbering 15 with invisible legends can be attributed to another Kushan prince namely Vasudeva on the basis of their typology. Although such coins as per their type can also be assumed to have been issued here by Vima Kadphsis, as the coins are in light weight and of low craftsmanship hence are grouped under Vasudeva’s collections.

These coins on obverse bear the figure of standing king and on the reverse very crudely devised Siva Nandi motif. This type initially was introduced by Vima Kadphsis but went out dated till later it was again imitated on his copper as well as on gold by Vasudeva. A single gold dinar of Vasudeva is also preserved in Srinagar Museum. It depicts standing king on obverse with legend Greek. Bazodeo (While in Rajatarangni this king is known by the name of Jushka) and on reverse Siva Standing with his vehicle Nandi (Bull). Vasudeva on coins is known by the name of Bazodeo

No comments: