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Copper 1/3rd Karshapana

Copper 1/3rd Karshapana

“This is one of the most beautiful ancient India copper coins in my collection. The beauty of design, excellence of the individual punches and lovely patina leaves me spellbound.” ~Mitresh Singh

Copper 1/3rd Karshapana

“Ancient India, Eran-Vidisha region, 300 BC, Copper, 1/3rd Karshapana, 3.26g, 5 symbols type, Uniface

Obv: 5 symbols punched individually

Center: Tree-in-railing
Top: Indradhwaja-in-railing
Left: 8-petalled Lotus flower
Right: 6-arm solar symbol
Bottom: River with swimming fishes

source: Wilfried Pieper, Author: Ancient Indian Coins

Eran (Airan) and Vidisha, famous sites of great antiquity, were among the dominating urban centers of eastern Malwa in post-Mauryan Central India. Eran is situated on the south bank of the Bina river, a tributary of river Betwa, and Vidisha is on the east bank of the Betwa, approximately 50 miles away. Other major urban centers of eastern Malwa were Bhagila, Kurara and Nandinagara (Nadner). An early trade route connecting Pataliputra with Mathura passed through Eran-Vidisha lands. And while one trade route went from Kausambi in the Allahabad district to the eastern sea coast, another route connected Kausambi in a south-westerly direction with Bharhut, Eran, Vidisha, Ujjain, Mahismati and finally Broach on the western sea coast.

In contrast to the more or less exclusive use of die-struck local coins in western Malwa, dominated by the urban center of Ujjain, some local powers of eastern Malwa used die-struck coins, while others issued punchmarked copper coins during this post-Mauryan period. Traditionally, these coins have been assigned to “Eran” but they may have been issued in Vidisha or other neighbouring centers as well.

The Eran-Vidisha region is the source of an important series of attractive, well executed ancient punchmarked copper coins. These local coins of eastern Malwa developed in the post-Mauryan time when the political control of the region had fallen to local dynasties. The very distinctive local coinages, such as that of Eran and Vidisha in eastern Malwa or that of Ujjain in western Malwa, are an indication that these regions were practically independent when issuing these coins. One cannot fix the start of the local Eran-Vidisha punchmarked coppers precisely but the second part of the 2nd century BC is probable. The series came to an end when the Satavahanas incorporated Malwa into their growing empire around the middle of the 1st century BC. A few Eran punchmarked coins with Satavahana inscriptions confirm the dynastic change in this region.

Usually there are 4-5 different punches on an Eran coin. The maximum amount of punches is six and a few types have only two or three punches. The reverse of most specimens is blank but sometimes we see the remains of an old undertype. The commonest devices on Eran coins are elephant, horse, so-called Ujjain symbol, river, railed standard, railed tree and (lotus) flower with eight petals. Sometimes we see also a bull, a six-armed symbol, a taurine fixed in an open railing, a damaru in a damaru-shaped enclosure or a standard in a damaru-shaped enclosure. Depictions of a lion or a human being are rarely found. The taurine fixed in an open railing is a very characteristic symbol of the Eran-Vidisha region but sometimes it is also found on types from Vidarbha. A symbol which appears to be specific for the Eran series occurs in two modifications: as a closed semicircle with two fish inside and as a semicircle with two crosses inside.

Concerning metrology it is not always possible to attribute the coins of this series to clearly defined different denominations. Theoretically a copper karshapana would weigh 9.33g and its subunits accordingly. In reality we see a continuum of weights indicating that such coppers were not valued according to their intrinsic value with the same accuracy as it was the case with gold and silver coins. This is an observation that holds true for many copper coinages of ancient India which were at least to a certain extent traded at token value.”

Thank you  Mitresh Singh for kind permission to reproduce his post in Ancient Coins Roman, Greek.. Facebook Group