More Than Just Money
by Himanshu Prabha Ray , , pp.,
October 2006, volume 30, No 10

Many years ago, one of my students gave me a Marg volume titled Of Kings and Coins. Its sumptuous, luminous photographs were my introduction to the beauty of ancient and medieval Indian coinage. I held on to that volume and used it for many years as a teaching aid to show students the variety and aesthetic richness of numismatic sources. Over a decade later, here is another Marg volume on coins, this time with a special focus on coins as expressions of power and as media of communciation. In older histories of ancient and medieval India, the distribution of a ruler’s coins was seen as reflecting the contours of his kingdom and the motifs on them were considered representions of his personal religious beliefs. The metallic purity of gold and silver coins was viewed as an index of general economic prosperity and debasement was interpreted as a symptom of economic decline or financial crisis.

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