How are coins made in India
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The historical development of Indian money can be traced back over 2,500 years. The civilizations of the Indus region (2500 - 1750 BC) already traded with pre-coinage forms of money such as cowries (porcelain snails) and granular gold dust (1200 BC). Kauris were strung on string and were a currency in areas of Asia even as early as the early 20th century.
The first coins of India were made at the end of the 6th century BC. coined in central India. These punch-marked coins are irregularly cast pieces of silver with up to seven symbols stamped on one side. They had a specific standard weight based on the gunja plant seed, which was used as the basis for Indian coinage until the 19th century (1 Rati = 8 to 9 seeds). Mahajanpadas distributed as silver and copper coins throughout India.
During the time of the great Mauryan emperor Ashoka (273-232 BC) Buddhist steles with the famous lion capital were erected. This Ashoka lion pillar is now the national coat of arms of the Republic of India and can be found on every banknote and coin.
Through the campaigns of Alexander the Great, North India came under Indo-Greek influence (Bactria), this was also evident in the coin design with plastic and realistic images of rulers and Greek gods and bilingual inscriptions on the coins. The gold coins of the great Kushan empire and later those of the Guptas were minted according to these models. The main motifs were Hindu gods and rituals.
After the gradual Islamic conquest of northern India (1192 to 1206), the entire Ganges basin finally came under Muslim rule. The richly pictorial design of the coins was replaced by Arabic scripts in the Persian-Islamic style. The silver rupee was introduced under Shir Sha (1539-1545) and has been used as the standard for centuries. During the Mughal rule, Akbar in particular spread the rupee across India. It was through him that the gold coin mohur was introduced. Later rulers shaped extreme superlatives, such as the 1000 mohur weighing 12 kg and 20 cm in diameter (only two examples exist). Another extreme spread in South India - the fanam as the smallest coin in the world only a few millimeters in size (originally 4-5 mm with a rough weight of approx. 0.33 grams) in the form of gold fanam (from 1660 also silver fanam ), Silver (chuckram) and copper (cash) coins.
Europeans have tried to gain a foothold in India since 1510 (Portuguese, Danes, Dutch, French and British). Regardless of whether the Europeans first came as traders and then secured their possessions with colonial power or first conquered territories by force and then traded, one thing remained the same for all of them - the issue of their own coins due to their economic or political power. More or less Indian national currencies were used as a model to ensure acceptance among the Indians. Often the coins were produced in Indian mints, but their own mints were also set up (around 350 mints have been known in India since the 15th century). Until 1947, apart from a few small principalities and kingdoms, coinage was entirely in the hands of the English colonial power.
The young Indian republic first adopted the British coin system (1 rupee = 16 anna), but later converted it to a decimal system with 1 rupee = 100 paises. The small coins had a wide variety of shapes: square, hexagonal, corrugated edge, but today they all have the usual round shape. Old copper, nickel and aluminum coins are now being replaced by cheaper steel. Since 1981, coins have also been minted abroad on behalf of India. Extensive commemorative coins reflect the problems, tasks and goals of the Indian state.
Source: Indian Coins (author's website)
Source: This text originally appeared in: Questions about India? A special edition of the information booklet of the German-Indian Society Berlin with introductions to selected subject areas, ed. from DIG Berlin, June 2001, page 41f.
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