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Research Coins: Feature Auction

 
91001278
CNG 91, Lot: 1278. Estimate $500.
Sold for $800. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

INDIA, Medieval. Kashmir. Harshadeva. 1089-1101. AR Dinnar (16mm, 3.04 g, 12h). Man, wearing angular headdress and holding spear, on horseback right; “Śrī Harṣadeva” in Śāradā script above / Goddess seated facing on lotus, holding lotus and vase. Cribb & Mobin 3 (A3/a3). VF, areas of tone. Extremely rare.


Called the "Nero of Kashmir", because of stories of his cruelty (S.B. Bhattacherje, Encyclopaedia of Indian Events and Dates [Delhi 1995], p. A-20), Harshadeva (1089-1101) was viewed as a cruel and vainglorious monarch, who burdened his subjects with heavy taxation and acted as an idol-destroying fundamentalist by despoiling the local shrines of their wealth. This view of Harshadeva comes from the twelfth century metrical chronicle of the region, the Rajatarangini ("The River of Kings") by Kalhaṇa. According to Kalhaṇa, Harshadeva had the confiscated gold and silver minted into coinage, in contrast to the then-current bronze coinage, which he then distributed among his favorites and possibly to his army (7.950, 1117-8). One type of the gold coinage was based on the elephant tankas of Karnataka (7.927). A second type, known only by a unique specimen published by Cunningham in 1894, shows a horseman.

Harshadeva's silver coinage paralleled his gold issues. To date, the only known silver coin was a unique specimen of the elephant type, published by Cunningham in 1894. In 2011, a small group of silver horseman type coins of Harshadeva appeared. Reportedly found near Gurjanwala in the northeastern Punjab, these coins' design derives from Shahi and Kalachuri prototypes, and is the same design as Cunningham's unique horseman type gold coin. Cribb and Mobin, in their study of the Gujranwala Hoard, cite a total of six obverse and six reverse dies for the eleven coins and note that one example is die-linked to Cunningham's horseman type gold coin.

For a further discussion of this coinage in relation to the Gujranwala Hoard, see Joe Cribb and Mobin Ahmed, "The coins of the Kashmir king Harshadeva (AD 1089-1101) in the light of the 'Gujranwala' hoard," Journal of the Oriental Numismatic Society, No. 208 (Summer 2011), pp. 28-33.