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Silver tanka of Muhammad b. Sam, sultan of Delhi


Diameter: 19.000 mm
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 1192-1206
    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)


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