Indian art in close-up detail, £14.99
Weight: 4.320 g
India Office Collection
CM BMC 13 (IOC 652)
Coins and Medals
Silver tanka of Muhammad b. Sam, sultan of Delhi
Ghurid dynasty, AD
Minted in Delhi, India
The first Sultan of Delhi
The traditional motif used on the coins of the Hindu Rajas of Delhi was a seated image of Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of good fortune. The use of this image on coins can be traced back to the second and third century AD. By the twelfth century it had devolved into a schematic design of dots and curved lines.
Muhammad b. Sam, a Muslim invader from Afghanistan, conquered northern India in 1192 and became the first Muslim ruler of Delhi. He initially continued minting coins in the Indian tradition, with Hindu-style legends 'Shri Hmir' (Amir) and 'Shri Mahamad Sim' (Muhammad b. Sam), written in the local Nagari script. He also copied the depiction of Lakshmi, to make his coinage acceptable to the local population, even though Islam forbids the depiction of the human form. Coins in the Islamic tradition, with legends only, were gradually introduced later.
J. Cribb, B. Cook and I. Carradice, The coin atlas (London and Sydney, Macdonald Illustrated, 1990)