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Gold mas or tahil ingot

 

Sides: 7.000 mm (approx.)
Weight: 2.530 g

Marsden Collection

CM CH.399

Coins and Medals

    Gold mas or tahil ingot

    Java, 9th century AD

    Gold by another name

    Inscriptions dating to the second half of the ninth century provide the earliest evidence of a currency system in Java, which was based on the use of standardised weights. One of the unit weights, known as the masa. The abbreviation mas came to mean 'gold' or 'wealth'. Another name for the same unit of weight is tahil.

    One of the faces of this small cube of gold has a single character that most closely resembles the Nagari letter ta. This indicates a link with Hindu settlers from India, who bought the Nagari script to Java. It is thought the letter ta is used here to stand for the currency denomination tahil. The opposite face has a deep, square incuse (stamped) mark, divided by a pointed, vertical line with a dot on either side. It has been suggested that this may represent a linga, symbolic of the Hindu god Shiva.

    H.C. Millies, Recherches sur les monnaies -1 (The Hague, 1871)

    R.S. Wicks, Money, markets and trade in ea (Ithaca, N.Y., Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University, 1992)

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