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Copper plate with inscription


Height: 36.800 cm
Width: 33.000 cm

Gift of Capt. Raymond Johns

Asia OA 1957.11-21.1

Room 33: Asia

    Copper plate with inscription

    Found near Barrackpur in Eastern India
    Sena dynasty, probably AD 1159

    A land grant with a genealogy of the Sena dynasty

    The royal seal of the Sena dynasty, a ten-armed figure of the god Shiva, is attached to the top of the plaque. The inscription is incised on a single piece of copper in Sanskrit. The inscription is dated to the year 32 of the reign of Vijaya Sena (the grandson of the first Sena king) which we can calculate as approximately AD 1159. It records the grant of a piece of land to a brahmin named Udayakaradeva Sharman. It further records that the grant was made inside the palace, as the dakshina or gift-offering to this brahmin for performing a special Vedic sacrifice. The sacrifice was performed on the occasion of a lunar eclipse for Vijaya Sena's principal queen, Mahadevi Vilasa Devi (the first Sena king claimed descent from the moon).

    It was customary for all sections of society of make offerings to the priestly caste of brahmins either as a pious gesture or in return for their services in performing various rituals. Each individual made an offering in accordance with his station, and royalty usually bestowed grants of land to be enjoyed by the brahmin and his family. These royal grants were recorded on metal-plate inscriptions like these from ancient times from all over India, and have proved invaluable in reconstructing the early political history of India.

    Dr G.A. Schumacher bought this important historical document for its weight in copper in around 1905 in a small village near the cantonment of Barrackpur, 24-Parganas District, West Bengal.

    N.G. Majumdar (ed.), Inscriptions of Bengal, vol. 3 (Rajshahi, Bengal, Varendra Research Society, 1929)

    B.M. Morrison, Political centers and cultural (Tucson, University of Arizona Press, 1970)


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