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Coining a unique history



From the numismatics exhibition at the Museum auditorium in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday.

The history of the region that once formed Kerala, right from the Sangam age to the reign of the rulers of erstwhile Travancore, has been brought alive through coins at an ongoing exhibition organised by the Numismatic Research Society of Kerala in the Museum auditorium in the capital.

The coins on show include the silver Purana, issued by the Ay-Chera chieftains between 600 and 200 BC and which is believed to be the oldest coin of southernmost India; the silver Makotai, the earliest known portrait coin of South India, which was issued by the Cheras during the Sangam age; Roman dinarii; the minute Quarter Taras of Vijayanagar, which weigh just 0.06 gm; and the Vellichakram, issued by the Travancore king, Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma, in the mid-18th century.

All the exhibits have been provided with detailed notes while the exhibits from the Travancore era are accompanied by colour portraits of the monarchs themselves. The aim of the exhibition is to generate interest in the public, especially students, in coin collection, explains Beena Sarasan, president of the newly formed society. "We have tried to include all the coins issued during various periods in the Kerala region," she says.

Roman trade coins, ranging from the silver dinarii, issued by Augustus (27 BC to 37 AD), to the gold aurei, minted by Tiberius and Nero (54 to 68 AD), are a highlight. The gold coin issued by Tiberius shows a vertical cut on the emperor's face, indicating that Roman authority stood cancelled here and that the coin was traded only for its intrinsic value.

The coins, which were in circulation in Malabar, such as the famed Gold Mohur; the Venetian Ducat; and the coins issued by the East India Company, the French in Mahe, and Hyderali and Tipu, are displayed. There is a collection of the gold coins minted by the Gangas, Hoysalas and Yadavas.

A `chakra palaka,' which was used to count minute coins, and a copper vessel in which a hoard of copper coins was found buried, evoke curiosity. Large uniface British Indian notes are among the paper currency on show. Coin sellers have chipped in with their ware, which includes magnifying glasses and albums used by collectors.

By M. Harish Govind

Photo: S. Mahinsha

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