Introduction to KashmirForum.org 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.
www.kashmirforum.org

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Recalling Heritage Through Ancient Coins

Iqbal laments on Kashmiri society's inability to appreciate and protect its rich heritage in ancient coins that are a source of history and through light on ancient numismatic technology

(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.)


Preserving Ancient Coins

In numerous passages of the Rajatarangni and other chronicles of Jon raja, Srivara and Kshenedra, there are reference to term dinara which served as a monetary token in ancient Kashmir perhaps Kashmiri term dyar also reflected the same name when we say dyar-wol we means any person possessing huge sums. Dinar has been a popular term used in terms of monetary token in ancient Kashmir and its influence has been so strong that the term is still used. Scholars have been identifying this dinar with ancient gold coin, issued here 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 dirham are commonly known from Kashmir.

Numismatists and Archaeologists have found thousands of Kushan dirham and Tetra dirham and several diners from various places of Kashmir.

There are several such types which have been found while few of others 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, the earliest Kushan type coin found in Kashmir. This type has been found absent in the Kujulas Afghanistan. The study under taken by noted numismatists Dr. David Macdowell, he has came across few piece 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 bad 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 Khroshti legend are partly visible. This discovery was followed by a remarkable purchase of small coins of this type called dirham 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 (dirham) 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 numismatics 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 lead me to believe that as such coins were found exclusive in Kashmir hence had been minted in Kashmir. I could here also found several forgeries of this type, which speaks of the popularity of this type.

Unfortunately almost all the ancient coins found in Kashmir are uncatalogued and undocumented, ironically thousands of these are still undeciphered and even a simple list of such coins is not available any where. Despite the fact that about eighty thousand coins are reportedly housed in SPS museum at Lalmandi, Srinagar, besides archaeological department often finds coins during its respective archaeological surveys of the state. Despite this rich heritage no step is taken to document these collections, these coins do not only serve as a source to our history but also speaks volumes about ancient numismatic technology. Let the concerned authorities and experts come forward and save this heritage for the generation to come.

No comments: