Friday, October 16, 2009

Bahmani Sultanate -Gulbarga coins

The coinage of Bahamanis savoured a unique status. The currency of their previous masters of Delhi Sultans was primarily based on gold and silver. Though coins of gold and silver were issued but copper was mainly used for a smaller transaction. The amazing factor to be viewed of Bahamanis is that their economic basis was a copper coinage of four denominations that followed a very strict weight standard. It was Ismail Mukh who broke up relation with Delhi, usurped the royal authority over Deccan and adopted the title of Nasiruddin Ismail Shah. He issued some copper coins during this time following the style of Delhi coinage containing a simple legend `Nasiruddin Ismail Shah Abdul-fath`. His coins weighed approximately 54 grains. The first six rulers of Bahamnis minted coins similar to that of Tughlaqs. Nasiruddin Ismail Shah enjoyed authority only for a short span of time, renouncing in favour of Zafar Khan who founded the Bahmani dynasty.

The coins of Bahmani kingdom were issued in gold, copper and silver by the rulers. Though the gold coins are rare the copper coins are found in abundance. Among the seventeen rulers of the Bahmani dynasty, only nine rulers issued gold coins. The nine rulers of this dynasty who issued gold coins are Muhammad Shah I, Mujahid Shah, Muhammad Shah II, Firoz Shah, Ahmad Shah II, Humayun Shah, Ahmad Shah III, Muhammad Shah III and Mahmud Shah. As this dynasty reflects strong influence of the Delhi Sultanate, the coins of all the rulers except, Mujahid Shah and Firoz Shah, followed the standard weight of the `tankah` of the Delhi Sultans. These two rulers adopted the weight of the `dinar` of Muhammad Tughlaq. They maintained the weight standard of 197 grains.

Apart from the last two rulers, Waliullah and Kalimullah, who were nominal Sultans, all the other rulers issued silver coins. These coins are of 170 grains. Mujahid Shah and Muhammad Shah II issued coins weighing a two third `tankah` of 110 grains. Apart from these coins, some smaller coins of 27 and 17 grains were also issued by the early rulers. Almost all rulers of this dynasty issued copper coins and they vary in weight and are of a number of denominations. The earlier rulers followed the weight standard of 57 grains and issued coins of its multiples or sub multiples. The coins after Firoz Shah marked a revolutionary change in the coinage of this dynasty. Gradually the weight of the coins increased during the reigns of the subsequent rulers and the sub multiples of these coins were also introduced during this period.

The early coins of the Bahmani rulers strongly mirror the coinage patterns followed by the Delhi sultanate. The silver and copper coins of the first ruler Bahman Shah resemble the Khilji and the Tughlaq coins in their forms and executions. He adopted the Khilji legends word for word on both sides of his coins. The only change was done on the coins by substituting the name of Bahman Shah for Muhammad Shah. But in the later period, his son Muhammad Shah I gave altogether new legends to his coins. He introduced his name `Sultan-ul-ahd wa zaman hami-u-millat-i-rasul-ir-rahman` that connotes the king of the land and time, supporter of the community of the apostle of the merciful. He also included the title `al-muwayyid bi-nasr-i-allah` (helper of the cause of God) and `abu-muzaffar` (the father of victory). The latter title was retained invariably by all the succeeding rulers. Mujahid Shah seemed to have reverted to the Delhi coinage for the inscriptions of his coins. He retained the title `al-muwayyid bi-nasr-i-allah` and added to it `yamin-ul-khilafat nasir amir-al-momnin` (right hand of the Khilafat, helper of the commander of the Muslims), the titles of the Khiljis. No such epithets were found on the coins of the subsequent rulers, though almost all rulers proclaimed themselves supporters of Islam and used magniloquent epithets on their coins. The rulers included their titles along with their names started with `Sultan` and ended `Shah` but sometimes these names and titles were deduced from the coins. Some coins of this dynasty contained the name of the father or the names of father and grandfather along with the name of the king.

Though the Bahmani kingdom ceased to exist in 1490 A.D as the sovereign was seized either by the provincial governors or the minister of the central government, the coins manifest the great existence of the kingdom. Afterwards, the coins continued to be issued in the names of the nominal Sultans. These coins were issued during the lifetime of the kings and after the death of the rulers as in the case of the last ruler Kalimullah.