Weight: 14.980 g
Gift of H.J. Shakespeare
Room 33: Asia
Gold Ramatanka charm
India, 16th-17th century AD
Hindu temple token
In India coins are seen as symbols of good fortune as well as wealth. This resulted in the production of imitation coins that were intended to serve purely as charms to ward off bad luck. One of the commonest coin-shaped charms is the Ramatanka, with designs derived from the coins of the Vijayanagara kingdom of south India (1326-1643). They are linked by their subject matter with the temples dedicated to the cult of Rama, the hero of the epic Ramayana. Rama himself is an incarnation of the Hindu creator god, Vishnu.
The concave side of this Ramatanka shows Rama enthroned with his wife Sita. They are surrounded by attendants, including Rama's brother, Lakshmana, and the bear and monkey armies that helped to rescue Sita when she was abducted by Ravana, King of Sri Lanka. The god Hanuman, leader of the monkey army, appears on the other side of the charm.
M. Mitchiner, Indian tokens: popular religio (London, Hawkins, 1998)
T. R. Blurton, Hindu art (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)