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CNG Feature Auction 117

Lot nuber 362

INDIA, Kushan Empire. Hsi-Hou Kushan (“Heraios”) or Kujula Kadphises. Circa AD 50-90. AR Tetradrachm (25mm, 14.76 g, 1h). ‘Heraus’ type.


CNG Feature Auction 117
Lot: 362.

Closing Date: May 20 2021 11:00 ET

Central Asian, Silver

Estimate: $ 5 000

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INDIA, Kushan Empire. Hsi-Hou Kushan (“Heraios”) or Kujula Kadphises. Circa AD 50-90. AR Tetradrachm (25mm, 14.76 g, 1h). ‘Heraus’ type. Diademed and draped bust right / TYPANNOYOTOΣ HAOY KOIIANOY, Heraios on horseback right; behind, Nike flying right, crowning him with wreath; Σ AN AB below horse; quadrate Os in legends. Loeschner fig. 6a; Cribb, Heraus –; Senior B1.2T; Alram 1263 var. (legends); Donum Burns 9; Sunrise 521 (this coin). Iridescent toning, light marks under tone. Near EF.

From the Archytas Collection. Ex Sunrise Collection (Triton XVIII, 6 January 2015), lot 266; Album 7 (5 December 2009), lot 531; Spink 175 (28 September 2005), lot 283.

Formed over the past thirty years, the Archytas Collection represents one of the finest holdings of Kushan coins in private hands. Replete with coins of exceptional quality, extreme rarity, and considerable historical and iconographic interest, this dedicated collector has created an extraordinary numismatic record of the Kushan Empire which flourished in Central Asia from the first to the fourth centuries AD.

The name Kushan derives from the Chinese term Guishuang, used to describe one branch of the Yuezhi, a loose confederation of Indo-European people who had been living in the Xinjiang Province of modern China. Driven west by the Xiongnu nomads between 176 and 160 BC, the five groups of the Yuezhi – the Xiumi, Guishuang, or Kushans, Shuangmi, Xidun, and Dumi – reached the Hellenistic kingdom of Baktria by 135 BC. They expelled the ruling Greek dynasties there, forcing these kings farther south to settle along the Indus River. In the following century, the Guishuang bound the other tribes of the Yuezhi into a powerful state. As the Guishuang, or Kushans, were the predominant power, their name became that by which the entire confederation was known. At its height the Kushan Empire encompassed most of modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as large parts of northern India, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. Diplomatic ties were maintained with the empires of Rome to the west and China to the east.

The earliest Kushan coins were struck to the same standards of the issues of Indo-Greek kingdoms that the Kushans conquered. They comprised mainly tetradrachms and drachms in silver and bronze with legends in Greek. Under Vima Kadphises a major reform resulted in the introduction of a spectacular gold coinage of dinars weighing approximately eight grams along with multiples and fractions. The types extolled the might of the Kushan kings and their religious affinities. The earliest gold dinars bore legends solely in Greek, subsequent issues had legends in both Greek and Kharoshti. As the empire grew to its greatest extend under king Kanishka the Kushan language, written in adaptation of the Greek alphabet with some local alterations, was increasingly used.

Like their Roman contemporaries, the Kushans incorporated much of the culture and religion of the many varied peoples they ruled into their own. With an empire straddling the cross roads of the Ancient world, the Kushan pantheon came to represent an unparalleled syncretism of western and eastern elements. The Kushan gold coinage displays this remarkable diversity to the fullest extent as evinced by the Archytas Collection. Greek gods and heroes appear alongside fertility gods of Ancient Iran. Siva, greatly revered by king Vima Kadphises, and other Shaivite gods of the Indian Subcontinent compete with deities and avatars of Zoroastrianism. The Buddha, championed by king Kanishka I, takes his place as do deities linked to Sumerian, Akkadian and Ancient Egyptian beliefs. As time passed, and the fortunes of the empire waned, the coinage witnesses a shrinking of this broad pantheon till only Siva, accompanied by his faithful Nandi bull, and Ardoksho, the great goddess of fertility and wealth, remain.

After the death of Vasudeva I in AD 225 the Sasanian Empire under Ardashir I conquered Kushan lands in Baktria and northern India. The southern portion of this territory remained under direct Sasanian control, while in the north arose the Kushanshahs, or Kushano-Sasanians, Sasanian nobles who ruled the region as vassals, striking broad flan dinars blending Kushan and Sassanian elements. By AD 270, Kushan control of the Ganges plain was ceded to the rising Gupta kingdom and by AD 320 the Guptas were pressing on the last remaining Kushan-held territories. During this period, several rebel leaders and generals appeared, further weakening the Kushan state. By the middle of the fourth century AD, the former Kushan vassal, Kidara, absorbed the now-moribund Kushan Empire into his dominions. Kushan style dinars continued to by struck by the Kidarites and subsequent dynasties for hundreds of years.





The final winners of all CNG Feature Auction 117 lots will be determined during the live online sale that will be held on 19-20 May 2021. This lot is in Session 2, which begins 19 May 2021 at 2 PM ET.

Winning bids are subject to a 20% buyer's fee for bids placed on this website and 22.50% for all others.

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