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Sunday, December 27, 2020

Coins in Ancient & Medieval India: Punch Marked Coins

Coins in Ancient & Medieval India



The word Coin is procured from the Latin word Cuneus. It is believed that the first recorded use of coin was in China & Greece around 700 BC, and in India in the 6th century BC.

The study of coins and medallions = Numismatics.


Punch Marked Coins:


  • One of the five marks or symbols incused on a single side and were termed as 'Punch Marked' coins. 

  • Panini's Ashtadhyayi cites that to make punch-marked coins, metallic pieces were stamped with symbols. Each unit was called 'Ratti' weighing 0.11 gram.

  • The first trace of this coin was available between the 6th & 2nd century BC.


The following two classifications are available:


Punch marked coins issued by various Mahajanapadas:

  • The first Indian punch-marked coins called Puranas, Krishnapadas, or Pana were minted in the 6th century BC by the various Janapadas and Mahajanapadas of the Gangetic Plain.

  • These coins had irregular shapes, standard weight and were made up of silver with different markings like Saurashtra had a humped bull, Dakshin Panchala had a Swastika and Magadha had generally five symbols.

  • Magadhan punch-marked coins became the most transmitted coins in South Asia.

  • They were mentioned in the Manusmriti and Buddhist Jataka stories and lasted three centuries longer in the South than in the North.
Fig: Magadha coin (five symbols)


Punch marked coins during Mauryan Period (322-185 BC):

  • Chanakya, Prime Minister to the first Mauryan emperor Chandragupta Maurya, mentioned the minting of punch-marked coins such as Rupyarupa (silver), Suvarnarupa (gold), Tamrarupa (copper), and Sisarupa (lead) in his Arthashstra treaties.


  • The coin contained an average of 50-54 grains of silver and 32 rattis in weight and was termed as Karshapanas.
Fig: Mauryan Karshapana


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