Gupta Numismatic art & its Design

Numismatics involves study or collection of coins, tokens and related objects. It is used by archaeologists to ascertain about trade, economy and society of a region. Though archaeologists have found terracotta seals at the Indus Valley sites, there is no agreement whether these seals were coins.

The Gupta coins, like their predecessors, did not confine the images of emperors on coins, they also depicted socio-political events such as marriage, king performing ashvmedha yagya, king playing musical instruments and performing other leisure activities. While the reverse sides of the coin depict gods and goddesses like Lakshmi, Durga, Garuada.

Coins Post-Gupta period

The coins minted were aesthetically less pleasing due to the following reasons:

1) Designs of the Rajput coins were confined to bull and horseman type. On one side they had the king’s name while a Goddess on the other.

2) Due to continuous internal conflict, most of the kingdoms had a poor state of treasury. Thus the coins minted were of inferior quality and usually made of inferior metals like nickel or copper.

3) The design of South Indian coins was limited to image of a temple or goddess or was simply left blank.

4) Islam prohibited idolatry which limited the scope of design. The coins bore only written information such as the date of issue, name of the king.

5) Due to subsequent fall in land revenue of the Mughal Empire, Aurangzeb had to debase his coins. It lead to the reduction of the quality of metal and reduced the scope of design.

6) Coins of British India were monotonous with textual information on one side and portrait of the queen or king on the other side.

With the above mentioned findings, we can conclude that the Gupta numismatic art had diversity and imagination in design which is missing in the later period.

Question for UPSC Mains:
How do you justify the view that the level of excellence of the Gupta numismatic art is not at all noticeable in later times? (150 words)

Published: October 30, 2017 | Modified:December 24, 2019