Part II. Catalog
Chapter VI. Coinage Minted By the Three Kingdoms of Nepal (Mid-16th Century-AD1768)

Tibet has carried out commercial, cultural, military, and intellectual intercourse since time immemorial with all its neighbors. Of interest here is the commercial exchange with its southern neighbor, Nepal, which has played such a significant role in trade and the supply of coinage for over 200 years from mid-16th century to AD1768.

The coinage activities by the three kingdoms of Nepal on behalf of Tibet were carried out by two dynasties, namely:1

First, coinage of the Malla Dynasty (AD1540-1768) of the Newar Kings which began with the conquest of Nepal by Jayashitih Malla in AD1380. However, the Kathmandu Valley was divided between the sons of Yaksha Malla after his death in AD1482, and separate kingdoms were established in Kathmandu, Patan and Bhatgaon. This subdivision was to last until the end of the Malla Dynasty in AD1768. The coins were dated on the accession of the ruler in the Newar Era. The silver coins of the Malla Dynasty can be divided into two main chronological groups namely:

Period 1 Coinage.

Rare silver coins called 'tankas', often debased and struck to the weight of about 10 grams. There were also minor denominations. The coins are often anonymous, but some have names of kings. These coins were minted in the period AD1545-1639.

Period 2 Coinage.

A major currency reform occurred about AD1640 when the weight standard of the main silver coin was reduced to about 5.4 grams. These silver coins are called 'mohars' in Nepal. The name of the king and the accession date were inscribed on each issue. The kings of each of the three Malla Kingdoms struck coins for Tibet.

Second, coinage of the Shah Dynasty covered a period AD1769-1914. After Prithvi Narayan Shah conquered the Kathmandu Valley in AD1768, attempts were make to supply coins to Tibet.

I. Coinage of the Malla Dynasty

A. Period 1 Coinage (AD1540-1640)

The first tankas minted in Nepal were struck in the Kingdom of Dolakha situated in the valley of the Tambu Kosi, about 50 miles east of the Kathmandu Valley. The Kosi Valley provided an easy route up to the Tibetan plateau. Dolakha was conquered by the Malla kings of Kathmandu about AD1600.

The most significant numismatic event to take place in the sixteenth century in the Valley of Nepal, was the striking of fine silver tankas, proudly proclaiming the name of Mahendra Malla (AD1560-74). It appears tanka coins were issued during the early years of his kingship. These large coins are very rare. For over 200 years Nepalese coins have been known colloquially as Mahendramalli.

During the sixteenth century silver coins from the plains of India must have reached Nepal in the coarse of trade. Copies of these Bengali tankas were struck in Nepal, namely tankas of Ala-ud-din Mahmud Shah Khilji (AD1295-1315) of Delhi and of Ghiyas-ud-din Mahmud Shah (AD1515-1539) of Bengal and were used as prototypes for the later Malla silver coins. A theory has been advanced that the first type, i.e. the tanka of Dehli was minted for use in Nepal, whereas the later tanka of Bengal was minted for use in Tibet.

After Mahendra Malla and before AD1640, large coins classified as Tanka Standard coins were struck in Nepal with legends in blundered Arabic. There are two types, namely:

1. Coins copied from a tanka of 'Ala-ud-din Khilji of Delhi.

2. Coins copied from a tanka of Ghiyas-ud-din Mahmud III of Bengal.
Strangely, the three kings listed below appear on both of the above two distinct types.

a. With the name of Siva Simha of Kathmandu (c. AD1578-1619).
b. With the name of Lakshminarasimha of Kathmandu (AD1619-1641).
c. With the name of Siddhirarasimha of Patan (AD1619-1661).
d. Anonymous coins.

II-VI
The coins of this period are well documented by Rhodes. No coins of this period are known to have been collected from Tibet. However, some of these coins no doubt have figured in the early trading with Tibet. The writer has selected coins to represent this period.

It is not known to what extent, if any, the coins issued by the Kingdom of Dolakha played in the early trade with Tibet. The issue minted by Mahendra Malla, King of Kathmandu (AD1540-74) is well known in the histories of the period. This famous tanka is one of the rarest of all Nepalese coins. It is documented here on the basis that all subsequent coins have been called Mahendramalli.

MAHENDRA MALLA TANKA

Code MD1
Denomination: 1 Tanka
Wt. c. 10 grams
Ref: RGV180

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Trident enclosed in a circle in turn is surrounded by Newari script reading:
'Srimai Kastamandupasyadhipati' which in turn is enclosed by two closely spaced circles.
Ornamental border.

Reverse: Thunderbolt enclosed in a circle surrounded by Newari script reading: 'Sri Sri Jaya Mahendra Malla Devasya', enclosed by two closely spaced circles. Ornamental border.


TANKA STANDARD COINS

As noted earlier there are two distinct types, namely:

(1) 'Ala-ud-din' type
(2) 'Ghiyas-ud-din' type

The first type has been tentatively attributed as coins struck for use in Nepal whereas type 2 is attributed as coins struck for export to Tibet. No coins of these two types are known to have come from Tibet. However, the following four types are placed here for the record.

Tanka copying Ghiyas-ud-din Mahmud Shah (c. AD1605-1639)

(a)With the name of Siva Simha of Kathmandu (c.AD1605-1619)

Code MD2
Denomination: 1 Tanka
Ref: RGV205

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse:
Trisul enclosed in central circle surrounded by crudely copied Arabic script inverted, reading across field. Sword with ornamental wreath at 12:00 o'clock. Tiny conch-shell below circle at 6:00 o'clock. Beaded border.

Reverse:
Thunderbolt in central circle surrounded by crudely copied Arabic script as on obv. Symbol and inscriptions above reading: 'Sri Sri/Sivasim' Three very small dots each side of dorje; enclosed in a circle. Beaded border.


b) With the name of Lakshminara-Simha of Kathmandu (AD1619-1641)

Code MD3
Denomination: 1 Tanka
Ref: RGV207

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Similar to Code MD2. Reverse: Legend reads: 'Sri Sri La/ksmi narsim' Similar to MD2.


(c) With the name of Siddhinarasimha of Patan (AD1619-1661)

Code MD4
Denomination: 1 Tanka
Ref: RGV209

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse:
Lion (=simha) looking right in central circle surrounded by crudely Arabic script inverted. Script 'Nara' above Date '759' below at 6:00 o'clock; all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.

Reverse:

Script on two lines 'Sri Sri Siddhi' with sword in between enclosed in central circle, surrounded by crude Arabic script enclosed by circle. Beaded border.


(d) Anonymous Issues

Code MD5
Denomination: 1 Tanka
Ref:RGV210

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Similar to MD3. Reverse: Legend 'Sri Sri' over two conch-shells above central circle.
Beaded border.


B. Period 2 Coinage (AD1640-1768)

One of the main reasons why Nepal was able to strike silver coins was the trade between Tibet and India through Nepal from the early years of the seventeenth century and the establishment of Nepalese trading houses in Lhasa. During the years immediately after AD1640, two events encouraged the increase is this flow of trade, and also enabled Nepal to strike more coins.

The question arises whether the coins of the 'Ghlyas-ud-din' type were intended for export to Tibet. Why were there two distinct types? A look into the trade situation during this period has been studied by Rhodes and the following summary is based on his study.

Between AD1555 and about AD1600 large numbers of coins were struck in Cooch Behar as the bulk of trade between Tibet and Bengal passed through there. However, around AD1603, Cooch Behar was invaded by a Moghul force and, according to the local chronicles, Lakshmi Narayan was specifically forbidden to strike rupees. Very few coins were struck in Cooch Behar from c. AD1605 until at least AD1633 when Prana Narayan ascended the throne. This political unrest in the area may have encouraged the trans-Himalayan traders to seek other routes down from Tibet to India. Nepal was the obvious route, and the political stability offered by Sivasimha's regime would have presented an ideal trading environment, particularly after he had gained control of the city of Patan and the territory to the south of the valley. Sivasimha would then have been able to use some of the silver flowing into the country for his coinage in the early seventeenth century. It should be noted that as there were no indigenous sources of silver in Nepal, it could only be obtained by exchanging goods. And since Nepal had little to export to India, it was only by taking on a transfer trade between Tibet and India that she could obtain sufficient supplies of silver for a coinage.

A few of these early tanka-standard coins probably reached Tibet, but the bulk of the Malla coins were of the mohar standard, struck after AD1640.

First, about AD1640, the King of Ladakh forbad transit trade across his kingdom. This meant that the shawl wool that came from western Tibet could not reach the traditional weavers in Kashmir, which could not produce its famous shawls unless an alternative supply route could be found. It was not long before wool was passing through Nepal to Patan, whence Kashmir traders sent it to Kashmir.2

Second, in the early AD1640 Bhima Malla, a brother of Pratap Malla of Kathmandu, led a successful campaign into Tibet. As a result he managed to negotiate a treaty between Tibet and Kathmandu, which included the following conditions:

1. Kathmandu was granted joint authority with Tibet over the border
towns of Kuti and Kerong.
2. The Newari merchant community of Kathmandu Valley was permitted
to establish 32 trading houses at Lhasa.
3. It was agreed that Nepal would mint coins for Tibet. Tibet would use these
coins internally and would provide the silver required for their minting or would
pay for Nepali coins with gold.
4. Tibet agreed that all trade with India, even though conducted by other
than Newari merchants, would be challenged through Kathmandu Valley
in preference to the routes to the east (i.e., via Sikkim, Bhutan or Towang).3

The merchants of Kathmandu gained a virtual monopoly over the lucrative trade between India and Tibet, as well as right to extend their commercial activities to Lhasa. It has been suggested that the system which Nepal coins for Tibet had originated earlier probably in the reign of King Mahendralla Malla (AD1560-74) of Kathmandu. The Nepali coins circulating in Tibet even in the 18th century were known as 'Mahendramalli' by both Tibetans and Nepalis.4 The Nepali coins have been the main currency in circulation in Tibet for about two centuries, i.e., from mid-sixteenth to mid-eighteenth centuries.

This trade monopoly between Tibet and Nepal continued more or less unchanged until early AD1720's. In January AD1722, during the reign of Mahindra Simha, Father Desideri, a Jesuit priest who had spent the previous five years in Tibet, passed through Nepal on his return journey to India and noted that:

"shortly after the [Manchus] entered Tibet for the second time (Autumn 1720) the whole vast kingdom was flooded with silver, which so diminished in value that reiterated edicts were necessary to force the people to accept it as payment. I must explain that the [Manchus] had no coinage, but simply large or small pieces of silver. Exposed to some risk, to expense, and to the long journey, the Tibetans sent this silver from Lhasa to Nepal to change into the money of the three petty kings who rules that Kingdom. They charge nothing, but gave an equal weight for the silver and gained many millions especially the King of Kathmandu."5

This account seems to show why the coins of Mahindra Simha are among the most common of the Malla Dynasty. It also shows that many of his coins must have been struck between AD1720, when the silver first reached Tibet, and AD1722, which was the year Desideri visited Kathmandu and in which Mahindra Simha died. It confirms that by this time Nepalese coins had become so popular in Tibet that it was more acceptable among the local population than pure silver bullion. Although the treaty negotiated by Bhima Malla in the AD1640s did specify that Nepal would strike coins with silver provided by Tibet, this seems to have been the first time that it was done on such a large scale.6

Three specimens of Mahindra Simha's Mohars were analyzed and the silver content is high and consistent at 95 percent. It seems, therefore, that the Nepalese made their profit out of the 5 percent alloy, while the full cost and risk of transport to and from Nepal was undertaken by the Tibetans. Presum
ably in Tibet, the coins circulated at a premium over bullion, and Father Domenico da Fano, writing in AD1713 records that coins were worth a 10 percent premium for large transactions7, and Father Desideri's account indicated that this premium may have increased by AD 1720.8

In AD1728, Jagajjaya Malla seems to have reduced the silver content slightly to about 92.5 percent. This coincides with the year Polhanas seized power in Lhasa after a civil war, and when another Manchu army arrived in Lhasa loaded with silver, On this occasion, the Manchus presented 30,000 taels of silver to Polhanas for him to distribute among his soldiers as a reward.9 Presumably much of this silver bullion was sent to Kathmandu by the Tibetans, and the Nepalese took advantage of the situation to increase their profit margin.10

About this time, Bhatgaon acquired a larger share of the Tibetan trade, judging from the scale of its coinage during the reign of Bhupatindra Malla (AD1696-1722), and particularly during the reign of his successor Ranajit Malla (AD1722-1769).

Kathmandu had lost its control over the trade route through Kuti, and Bhatgaon was able to take full advantage by increasing its share of trade in silver and coin. He sent a great quantity of his coins to Lhasa, in exchange for which he got a large quantity of gold and silver.11

The next change in the relationship between the Nepalese and the Tibetans in currency matters occurred during the first reign of Jaya Prakash Malla of Kathmandu (AD1736-1745). He sent a vast quantity of debased silver coins to Tibet, presumably struck from silver brought by the Manchus to Lhasa, either when the Dalai Lama returned to Lhasa in AD1735 from exile in China, or with the mission that arrived in Lhasa on the occasion of the accession of the Manchu Emperor Chien Lung. The silver was presumably exchanged for the coins on a weight for weight basis. On this occasion the coins were further bebased to roughly 67 percent silver, or 2 parts silver to 1 part copper. It seems likely that the agreement with Tibet had changed, so that Nepal paid for the cost of transporting the bullion and coin from Lhasa to Kathmandu and back. These debased mohars continued to circulate extensively in Tibet well into the twentieth century.12

Kathmandu continued to strike large numbers of debased coins for export to Tibet during the reign of Jyota Prakash Malla (AD1746-1750). The standard had now been reduced to only about 50 percent fine, increasing the profit made by the Nepalese. In addition, the weight standard seems to have been reduced from c.5.4 gram to c.5.25 grams. This period coincides with the period after Polhanas's death in AD1747, when the Tibetan government was rather weak. With the declining dominance of Kathmandu in Valley affairs, both Patan and Bhatgaon were taking their share of this trade and they too were striking large amounts of coin, equally debased and struck to a similar light standard.13

The seventh Dalai Lama took over the reigns of political power in AD1751, and one of his early acts was to write to the three Nepalese Kings requesting them to put an end to the practice of minting such debased coins exported to Tibet and asking them to send better quality coins.14 At the same time, the control exercised by the Malla Kings over the Tibetan trade was being threatened by the rising power of Prithvi Narayan Shah, King of Gorkha. Already in AD1774, he had gained control of the western trade route through Nowakot and Kyirong to Tibet, and he was soon posing a serious threat to the eastern route, via Kuti.15

Prithvi Narayan Shah first struck coins in AD1749, to the same debased standard as the Malla coins of the time. In view of these pressures, Jaya Prakash Malla seems to have taken the request of the Dalai Lama seriously, and in AD1753 he struck a beautiful new series of coins in fine silver and gold. The appearance of gold coins is remarkable, and almost certainly indicates that a new trading relationship had developed, with the Tibetans sending gold to Nepal, and receiving silver coins in exchange. Perhaps, some of these gold coins were sent to Tibet as in late AD1788/early 1789, the Panchen Lama sent a letter "to the High Ranking Officers of the Gurkha Army in Nyanang" requesting negotiation the dispute between Tibet and Gorkha. At the end of the letter is stated "Enclosing a Kathag for a symbol and four golden coins ON AN AUSPICIOUS SEAL OF THE PANCHEN LAMA".16

This new relationship between Tibet and the Malla Kings was not to continue. In AD1754 Prithvi Narayan Shah finally succeeded in gaining control of the trade route through Kuti, effectively cutting off the Valley from the Tibetan trade. At the same time the Gorkha King struck his own fine silver coins, exchanging them for gold with Tibet. In AD1755 he signed a treaty legalizing the circulation of these coins in Tibet and in AD1757 reached a similar agreement with Kathmandu. It was agreed that:

1. Representatives of both Gorkha and Kathmandu would be stationed in Tibet.
2. Gorkha and Kathmandu would share equally the minting of coins for Tibet.
3. All gold, silver and currency brought either from Tibet or India would be shared.

This treaty was never implemented. It could never have been operative without the concurrence of Tibet.17

For the next ten years, from AD1758 until 1768, Prithvi Narayan Shah gradually completed his plan for the conquest of the Valley. In order to do this he concentrated on cutting off the Valley from the outside world. As a result the Malla Kings could not export coins to Tibet.

It is interesting to note that Nepalese coins continue to circulate in Tibet at a value roughly equal to their weight in silver, however, debased they were. When the debased coins were devalued in Nepal, at some date prior to AD1767, problems arose between the Nepalese and the Tibetans over the value of the debased coins. The Tibetans demanded that as they had paid for the coins with good silver, the Nepalese should accept the coins at 'par'. The Nepalese, however, who stood to lose financially if the Tibetan traders were able to bring the debased coins to Nepal and exchange them for the fine silver coins struck after AD1753, insisted that the old debased coins could only be exchanged at a value equal to their silver content. This dispute was to continue unresolved until AD1792.18


COIN DETAILS

The first known publication illustrating Malla coins from Tibetan source was published in AD1735, when Du Halde illustrated three Malla coins that had been acquired by European priests in China, who in turn, had obtained them in Tibet.19 The three coins were:

1. Mahindra Simha of Kathmandu, NS835 (AD1715), Code MD13
2. Yoga Narendra Malla of Patan, NS805 (AD1685), Code MD20
3. Bhupatendra Malla of Bhatgaon, NS816 (AD1696), Code MD29

In 1907 Walsh illustrated a group of 15 Malla coins attributed to be minted by the three Kings of Nepal for use in Tibet.20

Kann21 included a section on Tibet coins. He illustrated 22 Malla coins. Kann, no doubt, obtained his coins from sources in China which, in turn, had to come from Tibet. The writer accepts this premise and, therefore, has catalogued these Malla coins minted by the three rulers of the three kingdoms for and on behalf of the Tibetan Government.

Before cataloging this group of coins it is interesting to note the remarkable fabric, style and design of these coins and the fine technical quality of striking. A distinctive feature of many Malla coins is the wide variations in geometric patterns which are put in words artistically very attractive. They are not, however, purely for artistic effect; they are Hindu and Buddhist yantras. A yantra is a diagram and consists of certain permanent elements and other variable ones. The elements have esoteric meaning.22 A yantra is a substitute for an anthropomorphic image of a deity, an image is a secret code that can only be interpreted by the initiated.23

The coins also carry various emblems and symbols such as the sword (khadga), the emblem of sovereignty, usually shown with a garland (mala) over it.

The trident (trisula), the emblem of the god Siva, often depicted with streamers attached to the shaft.

The 'Asta Mangala', the eight Buddhist emblems, consisting of:

The two golden fishes

The umbrella of sovereignty

The conch shell

The endless knit

The banner of victory

The vase of holy water

The lotus of flower

The wheel of law

There are a number of symbols such as: pasa (noose), damaru (double-headed drum), matsya (fish), pataka (flag), the mace, bow and arrow, the sun and moon, the vajra or thunderbolt, the elephant goad, and others. These symbols occur singularly or incombination with emblems. They are religious symbols and no attempt is made to interpret their meaning.

Walsh24 points out that the damaru and the loop in the form are not usually found on Newar coins. The damaru is peculiar to the Tibetan Lamas and would, therefore, might suggest itself to Newar artificers as a suitable religious symbol for a Tibetan coin being distinct from the Newar Buddhist and Hindu symbols which they affixed on their coins.


The following is a broad classification of the distinctive types issued:

Type 1. Coins with crude Arabic script
Type 2. Coins with imitative Persian characters
Type 3. Coins with a square mandala
Type 4. Coins with different yantras (mandalas)

Type 1. Coins with crude Arabic script

The Newar Mohars copied the forerunner, the Tanka Standard coins. All three kingdoms minted coins of this type. Lakshminarasimha and Jaga Pratap Malla, both of the Kingdom of Kathmandu minted this type in NS761 (AD1641). Likewise, Siddhinarasimha of the Kingdom of Patan issued this type in NS761 (AD1641). It was in NS765 (AD1645) that Jagatprakash Malla of the Kingdom Bhatgaon issued a similar type. The last issue of this type was minted by Jaya Ranajit Malla of Bhatgaon in NS842 (AD1722), the famous 'Nag-tang' or 'black tamka' coin.

All of these coins exhibit the loop in the form and many have the damaru symbols which are characteristic of Buddhist symbolism.

Type 2. Coins with imitation Persian characters

Coins issued of this type usually exhibit two horizontal characters thus dividing the field into three areas. Jaya Pratap Malla in NS775 (AD1655) and Jaya Nripendra Malla in NS794 (AD1674), both of the Kingdom of Kathmandu issued coins of this type. Coins of this type were also minted by Jaga Vishnu Malla in NS849 (AD1729) and NS851 (AD1731) of the Kingdom of Patan.

Type 3. Coins with a square mandala.

These coins employ a figure known as bhupara. A bhupara is a square, the sides of which are divided with a space in the middle of each and a parallelogram with its side next the side of the space symmetrically divided, the ends of the divided sides being joined.25 Mandalas of this type are found on Tibetan paintings. The only coin issued of this type was minted by Jaya Srinivasa Malla of the Kingdom of Patan in NS786 (AD1666).

Type 4. Coins with different yantras (mandalas)

Coins of this type show many geometric variations using circles, triangles and squares separately or interlaced or in combinations. Many Malla coins are of this type.


KINGDOM OF KATHMANDU

Type 1. Coins with crude Arabic script.

Lakshminarasimha (AD1619-1641)
Year ND Code MD 6
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam. 26.2 mm; Th. 0.7 mm; Wt. 4.73 gms.
Metal: Silver 96%
Ref: RGV256; KM160

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse:
Trident in central circle surrounded by crude Arabic script; 'Sri' above with loop to right. Beaded border.

Reverse:
Script over two flowers and conch-shell, all enclosed in a central square surrounded by crude Arabic Script. Damaru (hand-drum) and loop to left; script reads: 'Sri Lakshmi/narasim'. Beaded border.


Jaya Pratap Malla (AD1641-1674)
Year NS761 (AD1641) Code MD7
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam. 26.3 mm; Th. 0.7 mm; Wt. 5.58 gms.
Metal: Silver
Ref: RGV259; KM163; K1325

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Similar to MD6. Reverse: Similar MD6, except script reads: 'Sri Prata/pa Malla/761'.


Type 2. Coins with imitation Persian character.

Jaya Pratap Malla (AD1641-1674)
Year NS775 (AD1655) Code MD8
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam. 25.2 mm; Th. 0.8 mm; Wt. 5.53 gms.
Metal: Silver
Ref: RGV260; KM164; K1327

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Imitation Persian characters reads: 'Sanah (I)lahi'. Trident in center surrounded by Newari script in a floral background with various rosettes; script read: 'Sri Sri Kavindra Jaya'. Beaded Border.

Reverse: Imitation Persian character reads: 'Jahangir Shah'. Newari script reads: 'Pratap Malla, 775' on floral background with rosettes. Ornamental border.


Type 4. Coins with different yantras.

Mahipatendra Malla (c. AD1669)
Year ND Code MD9
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam. 25.6; Th. 0.08 mm; Wt. 5.45 gms.
Metal: Silver
Ref: RGV266; KM177

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Trident in center within diamond, surrounded by four six-sided geometric forms each containing script in center and a 7-point rosette on each side; script reading: Sri 2 Jaya Mahipa-'. Beaded border.

Reverse: Sword with wreath in center surrounded by script in floral background with rosettes; script reads: 'tendra Malla Deva'.Beaded border.

This coin has not been published before. The basis for including this issue in the obverse is the pattern for the obverse of the 'Sri Magnalam' Tamkas. The coin must have been in Tibet in order for it to be copied.


Type 2. Coins with imitation Persian characters.

Jaya Nripendra Malla (AD1674-1680)
Year NS794 (AD1674) Code MD10
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam 25.5 mm; Th. 0.8 mm; Wt. 5.45 gms.
Metal: Silver
Ref: RGV268; KM185; K1328

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Similar to MD8, except script reads: 'Sri Sri Jaya Nrpendra'.

Reverse:Similar to obverse, except sword with wreath in center; script reads: 'Malla Dera 794'.


Type 4. Coins with different Yantras

Jaya Bhupalendra Malla (AD1687-1700)
Year NS809 (AD1689)
Code MD11
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam. ; Th. ; Wt.
Metal: Silver
Ref: RGV281; KM207; K1330

 

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Trident in center surrounded by script enclosed by an octagon; script reading: 'Sri 2 Jaya Bhupalendra Malla'. Eight connected fleurets (petals) opposite each side of the octagon, each containing script reading: 'Nepalesvara Rajendra'. A bead is located in the space where the fleurets are joined inside of outer circle. Beaded border.

Reverse: Sword with wreath in center surrounded by script enclosed in an octagon; script reading: 'Laksmi Narayana, 809'. Eight connected fleurets (petals) opposite each side of the octagon, each containing one of Buddhist lucky emblems (asta mangala). Beaded border.

Note:Lakshmi Narayan was the chief minister in Kathmandu at this time. He was the only such minister to place his name on coins of Kathmandu.26


Year NS812 (AD1692)
Code MD12
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam. 26.5 mm; Th. 0.5 mm; Wt. 5.48 gms.
Metal: Silver
Ref: RGV282; KM208; K1335

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Trident in center surrounded by script enclosed in a circle; script reading: 'Sri 2 Jaya Bhupalendra'. Eight separate fleurets in the form of the linga pattern outside first circle, each containing one of the eight Buddhist lucky emblems (asta mangala); three beads between fleurets; all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.

Reverse: Sword with wreath surrounded by script reading: 'Malla Dera 812' The above enclosed in a scalloped octagon followed by eight rounded separate fleurets each containing script reading: 'Nepalesvara Rajendra'. The fleurets are connected by an angular arc with four beads underneath and a single bead near the octagon; all above enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.

Note: The above two coins were the first of the eight-fleurets (petals) coins, referred to sometimes as
chyasing mohars', which were to become so popular in Tibet. This popularity was perhaps partly because of the eight auspicious Buddhist lucky emblems.27


Type 2. Coins with imitation Persian characters.

Jaya Mahindra Simha (AD1715-1712)
Year NS835 (AD1715)
Code MD13
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam. 26.8; Th. 0.8 mm; Wt. 5.49 gms.
Metal: Silver
Ref: RGV303; KM225; Du Halde.28

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Trident in center surrounded by script, enclosed by a circle; script reading: 'Sri Sri Jaya Mahindra'. Eight separate fleurets in the form of the linga pattern, each containing one of the eight Buddhist emblems. Three beads above and one bead below between fleurets; all enclosed in a circle. Beaded border

Reverse: Two imitation Persian characters divided the central circle into three areas; sword with garland in central area with script on each side; script reading: 'Simha Dera, 835'. Eight separate fleurets between central circle and circle near rim, each contain script reading: 'Nepalesvara Girindra' - 'Lord of Nepal and King of the Hills' and in the center 'Simha Deva 835' all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.


Jaya Jagajjaya Malla (AD1722-1735)
Year NS842 (AD1722)
Code MD14
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam 25.7 mm; Th. 0.7 mm; Wt. 5.27 gms
Metal: Silver
Ref: RGV313; KM235; K1333

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Trident in center with bead below surrounded by script reading: 'Sri 2 Jaya Jagajjaya', enclosed in a circle. The eight separate fleurets in the form of the linga pattern are inscribed between the first and second circle each containing one of the eight Buddhist lucky emblems. Three beads above and a single bead below are located between the fleurets. Beaded border.

Reverse: In the central circle, two imitation Persian characters forming horizontal lines; sword with wreath in center and script on each side; script on top and date below, all reading: 'Malla Deva 842', all enclosed in a central circle. Between this circle and circle near rim are eight separate oval shaped fleurets, each containing script reading: 'Nepalesvara Rajendra'.Angle arc not connecting fleurets with inverted tear drop underneath and a bead near first circle; all enclosed in a circle. Beaded border.


Type 4. Coins with different yantras

Jaya Jagajjaya Malla (AD 1722-1735)
Year NS848 (AD1728)
Code MD15
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam. 27.3 mm; Th. 0.8 mm; Wt. 5.38 gms
Metal: Silver
Ref RGV318; KM236; K1337

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Trident with two beads below surrounded by script reading: 'Sri 2 Jaya Jagajjaya', enclosed in a circle followed by eight separate fleurets in the form of linga pattern, each containing one of the eight Buddhist lucky emblems. Three beads at top and single bead below in between the fleurets; all enclosed in a circle. Beaded border.

Reverse: Sword with wreath in center surrounded by script reading: 'Sri 2 Mahipatendra Malla 848'. Four groups of three beads; all enclosed in an octagon. Eight connected fleurets opposite each side of octagon, each containing script reading: 'Nepalesrara Rajendra'. A single bead between fleurets; all enclosed in a circle. Beaded border.



Jaya Prakash Malla (AD1735-1746)
Year NS856 (AD1736)
Code MD16
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam. 26.8 mm; Th. 0.6 mm; Wt. 5.55 gms
Metal: Silver 93% Ag29
Ref: RGV328; KM259; K1338

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Trident in center with one bead below; one bead on each side and one bead on each side below near rim surrounded by script reading: 'Sri 2 Jaya Praskash Malla'. Eight separate fleurets in
the form of the linga pattern inscribed between first and outer circle, each containing one of eight Buddhist luckyemblems. Three beads above and a single bead below between fleurets. Beaded border.

Reverse: Sword with wreath in center surrounded by script reading: 'Sri 2 Mahipatendra Malla 856'.
All enclosed in a octagon; eight connected fleurets opposite each side of the octagon, each containing script reading:'Nepalesvara Rajendra'.A single bead above line joining the fleurets; all enclosed in a circle. Beaded border.


KINGDOM OF PATAN

Type 1. Coins with crude Arabic script

Siddhinarasimha (AD1619-1661)
Year NS759 (AD1639
Code MD17
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam. 26.4 mm; Th. 0.8 mm; Wt. 5.65 gms.
Metal: Silver 98% Ag29
Ref: RGV374; KM301; K1310

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Sword in center surrounded by script reading: 'Sri Sri Siddhi' in two lines enclosed in a circle surrounded by crude Arabic script; loop above and to right; all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.

Reverse: Lion to right and 'Nara' above enclosed in a circle surrounded by crude Arabic script with date '759' below. Beaded border.



Jaya Srinirasa Malla (AD1661-1685)
Year NS781 (AD1661)
Code MD18
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam. ; Th. ; Wt. gms.
Metal: Silver
Ref: RGV380; KM306; K1311

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Sword in center surrounded by script reading: 'Sri Sri Jaya' enclosed by a circle surrounded by crude Arabic script with a loop above and to the right; all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.

Reverse: Script enclosed by a circle and with script above and date below reading: 'Srinivasa Malla 751', with crude Arabic script; all enclosed in a circle.Beaded border.


Type 3. Coins with a square mandala.

Jaya Srinirasa Malla (AD1661-1685)
Year NS786 (AD1666)
Code MD19
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam 25.2 mm; Th. 0.9 mm; Wt. 5.46 gms
Metal: Silver
Ref: RGV382; KM307; K1312

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Two intersecting triangles forming an octagon and six small triangles. Sword with wreath in center surrounded by script; rosette above and moon and sun symbols in upper corners. Script reading: 'Sri Sri Jaya'; all enclosed in an octagon. The six triangles containing script reading: 'Srinavasa Malla'. A 3-zelement wavy form connects the triangles with a 5-point rosette underneath; all enclosed in circle. Beaded border.

Reverse: In the central circle two vases and elephant goad with date '786' below, in turn surrounded by script and Buddhist symbols. The script reads: 'Nepalesvara'; all enclosed in a square known as 'bhupara', the sides of which are divided with a space in the middle of each and a parallelogram closing the space; all enclosed in a circle. Ornamental border.


Type 4. Coins with different yantras

Jaya Yaga Narendra Malla (AD1684-1705)
Year NS805 (AD1685)
Code MD20
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam. ; Th. ; Wt. gms.
Metal: Silver
Ref; RGV391; KM336; Du Halde29

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Design of squares and diamond with script inscribed over the field; script reads: 'Sri Sri Sri Lokanatha, Sri Sri Yoga Narendra Malla, Samgitarnnava Paraga' (i.e skilled in music); all enclosed in a circle. Beaded border.

Reverse: An interesting intersection of slightly curved lines designed to touch points of circle by a single continuous line (The design is not triangles), resulting in an octagon in center with two pairs of triangles at 12:00; 3:00; 6:00 and 9:00 o'clock; vermilion casket, conch-shell and mace enclosed by the octagon; script in triangles and spaces in between reading: 'Sri Sri Jaya Laksmi Devi, Sri Nepala Chudamani, 805', (i.e. Jewel in the Crown of Nepal); all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.


Year NS820 (AD1700)
Code MD21
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam. 26.0 mm; Th. 0.8 mm; Wt. 5.41 gms
Metal: Silver
Ref; RGV397; KM320; K1313

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Sword with wreath on stand in center with Devanagari script on each side and bottom and 9-beaded rosette above, crescent moon on left and sun on right. Script reads: 'Sri Sri Jaya Yoga Narendra Malla, Samgitarnnava Paraga' (skilled in music), on reticulated surface; all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.

Reverse: Trident with wreath in center with Buddhist symbol above and below and Devanagari script on either side, reading: 'Sri Sri Vira Yoga Narendra Malla, Nepala Chudamani' (Jewel in the Crown of Nepal), '820'; all enclosed in a circle. Beaded border.


Type 3. Coins with square mandala.

Riddhi Narasimha Malla (AD1715-1717)
Year NS835 (AD1715)
Code MD22
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam. 26.2 mm; Th. 0.8 mm; Wt. 5.43 gms.
Metal: Silver
Ref: RGV446; KM374; K1319

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Lion (= simha) looking to left in central circle surrounded by six fleurets, each containing script reading: 'Sri Sri Hrdhi Nara' with script in the corners of the square reading: 'Malla Deva'; rosettes in center of the parallelogram; all enclosed by the mandala. One bead on each side of the mandala near the enclosing circle; all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.

Reverse: Two interlaced triangles forming a central octagon and small triangles. Sword with wreath in center with symbol on each side, sun on right and crescent moon on left; all enclosed by the octagon. Script in outer triangles and underneath the three-element arc connecting the triangles. Script reads: 'Sri Sri Karunamaya, 835'. Symbol at 3:00 o'clock and rosette at 9:00 o'clock; all enclosed in a circle. Beaded border.


Type 4. Coins with different yantras.

Riddhi Narasimha Malla (AD 1715-1717)
Year NS835 (AD1715)
Code MD23
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam. 25.7; Th. 0.8 mm; Wt. 5.32 gms.
Metal: Silver 95% Ag30
Ref: RGV447; KM375; K1314

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Lion in central circle surrounded by six trefoil fleurets, each containing script: two-element arc connects the fleurets, each with script. All reading 'Sri Sri Vira Hrdhi Nara, Malla Deva'; two leaves between arcs; all enclosed in a circle. Beaded border.

Reverse: Sword with wreath in center with bead and rosette on each side below, symbol above, sun at 3:00 o'clock and crescent moon at 9:00 o'clock; all enclosed in a circle. Similar fleurets and arcs as on obverse, all with script reading: 'Sri Sri Karunamaya Nama 835'. A symbol with two leaves and a bead above fleurets; all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.


Type 2. Coins with imitation Persian characters.

Jaya Visnu Malla (AD1729-1745)
Year NS849 (AD1729)
Code MD24
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam. 27.1 mm; Th. 0.7 mm; Wt. 5.58 gms.
Metal: Silver
Ref: RGV460; KM395; K1320

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Trident with script each side and date below reading: 'Sri Sri, 849', enclosed in central circle; in turn surrounded by four fleurets, each containing script with a symbol (conch shell, mace, flower
and wheel). Script reads: 'Jaya Visnu Malla Deva'. Three beads between fleurets; all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.

Reverse: Sword with wreath in center with three beads above and one bead below; 4-beaded rosette on each side; all between two imitation Persian characters. Script located in the three divisions, reading;
'Sri Sri Sri Karunamaya'. Moon and sun on each side of script at top and flowers branching from
base, three-beaded symbol, two below moon and sun and one at base of flower; all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.


 

Year NS851 (AD1731)
Code MD25
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam. 27.4 mm; Th. 0.8 mm; Wt. 5.43 gms.
Metal: Silver 90+% silver30
Ref; RGV469; KM400; K1321

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Trident between two imitation Persian characters. Script on four lines reading: 'Sri Sri Jaya Visnu Malla Deva, 851'; all on reticulated surface; all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.

Reverse: Sword with wreath on stand in center surrounded by script, reading: 'Sri Sri Sri Lokanatha'; all enclosed in a scalloped octagon, which in turn is surrounded by script reading: 'Sri Jaya Vira Yoga Narendra Malla'; all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.


Type 1. Coin with crude Arabic script.

Jaya Ranajit Malla (AD1762-1763)
Year NS882 (AD1762)
Code MD26
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam. 29.1 mm.; Th. 0.8 mm.; Wt. 5.42 gms.
Metal: Silver
Ref: RGV501; KM427

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Script and date within central square, reading: 'Sri 3 Karunamaya, 882'. Four small fleurets on each side of the square, each with script, reading 'Sri Taleju', which in turn is enclosed by four large fleurets connected at the corners of the square each with script reading: 'Sri Sri Jaya Ranajit Malla Deva'. A winged arc with a bead connects the fleurets; all enclosed in a circle. Beaded border.

Reverse: Trident in center with one bead at top each side and three beads below enclosed in a circle which in turn is surrounded by crude Arabic script. Sword with wreath at top and loop on right, all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.


KINGDOM OF BHATGAON

Type 1. Coin with crude Arabic script.

Jagatprakash Malla (AD1644-1673)
Year NS705 (AD1585)
Code MD27
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam 27.5 mm; Th. 0.8 mm; Wt. 5.40 gms.
Metal: Silver 97%Ag39
Ref: RGV516; KM50

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Trident with two beads enclosed in a circle surrounded by crude Arabic script; sword with wreath above and loop to right; all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.

Reverse: Three lines of script in a scalloped square reading: 'Sri Sri Jagatprakasa Malla' surrounded by
crude Arabic script; darmaru above, loop to left, and date below '765'; all enclosed by a circle.
Beaded border.



Jaya Jitamitra Malla (AD1663-1696)
Year NS783 (AD1663)
Code MD28
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam. ; Th. ; Wt. gms.
Metal: Silver 97%Ag39
Ref: RGV524; KM71; K1349

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Similar to Code MD25

Reverse: Three lines of script in a scalloped square reading: 'Sri Sri Jaya Jitamitra' surrounded by Arabic script with darmaru above and loop to left and date '783' below; all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.


Jaya Bhupatindra Malla (AD1696-1722)
Year NS816 (AD1696)
Code MD29
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam. 26.8 mm; Th. 0.7 mm; Wt 5.47 gms
Metal: Silver
Ref: RGV532; KM87; K1352; Du Halde28

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Similar to MD25

Reverse: Script on three lines enclosed by a scalloped square reading: 'Sri Sri Jaya Bhupatindra Malla'. Crude Arabic script on east and west sides of the square, darmaru at top with loop to left and date, '816' at bottom; all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.

Note: Many varieties exit as Rhodes29 lists eleven variations. The writer has 18 variations in his cabinet. It is not the intent here to record all of these variations, but to note many variations exist. The Tibetans call this coin ang-tuk or "number six" from the last figure of its date.


Type 4. Coins with different yantras.

Jaya Bhupatindra Malla (AD1696-1722)
Year NS816 (AD1696)
Code MD30
Denomination: 1/4 Tamka
Diam. 18.7 mm; Th. 0.3 mm; Wt. 1.39 gms.
Metal: Silver
Ref; RGV548; KM82; K1350

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Two intersecting squares forming an octagon and six small triangles; sword with wreath enclosed by the octagon surrounded by script, reading: 'Sri Sri Jaya Bhupa-' Two groups of 3-beads one above and one below; sun and moon symbols each side of top 3-beads, all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.

Reverse: Vase in center with the stem pointing upwards and 2 drooping stems each side of vase; two moons and suns at top and three beads at base of vase; all surrounded by script reading: '-tindra Malla Deva, 816', all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.


Type 4. Coins with different yantras.

Jaya Ranajit Malla (AD1722-1769)
Year NS789 (AD1669)
Code MD31
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam. 26.6 mm; Th. 0.6 mm; Wt. 4.93 gms.
Metal: Silver
Ref: RGV561; KM107; K1357

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: A conch-shell, wheel and two rosettes enclosed by central circle; to right, a bow, to left, five arrows; various rosettes in floral field, and script reading: 'Sri Sri Jaya Rana-', all enclosed in a circle. Elaborate beaded border.

Reverse: An elephant goad and noose contained in an inverted triangle, mace to right, lotus flower to left, various rosettes; script reading: '-rtendra Malla, 789' in floral field; all enclosed by a circle. Elaborate beaded border.



Year NS842 (AD1722)
Code MD32
Denomination: 1/2 Tamka
Diam. mm; Th. mm; Wt. gms.
Metal: Silver 96% Ag39
Ref: RGV566; KM105;K1356

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: A pentagram formed by a continuous line drawn to points inside of circle (not triangular) containing sword with two groups of dots on each side of sword at top; six beads below; script in each triangle and space between, reading: 'Sri Sri Jaya Ranajit Malla Deva', all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.

Reverse:Vase with sun and moon in upper corners of inverted triangle; script outside reading: 'Samvat 842, Vaisa Su 15', all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.


Type 1. Coins with crude Arabic script.

Jaya Ranajit Malls (AD1722-1769)
Year NS842 (AD1722)
Code MD33
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam. 26.5 mm; Th. 0.8 mm; Wt. 5.51 gms.
Metal: 94, 84, 71,57% Ag29
Ref: RGV564; KM108; K1353

Obvese Reverse

 

Obverse: Trident with a rounded tie; bead on each side and three beads below enclosed by a circle
surrounded by crude Arabic script with sword and wreath above and loop to left; all enclosed
by a circle. Beaded circle.

Reverse: Three lines of script enclosed by a scalloped square reading: 'Sri Sri Jaya Ranajit Malla Deva'. Crude Arabic script right and left of square; darmaru above and loop to left, date below, '842'; all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.



Jaya Ranajit Malla (AD1722-1769)
Year NS842 (AD1772)
Code MD34
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam 26.4 mm.; Th. 0.8 mm; Wt. 5.43 gms.
Metal: Debased issues 55, 49, 37, 27% Ag39
Ref: RGV565

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Similar to MD33, except trident with trefoil tie. Reverse: Similar to MD33

Coins of Code MD33 are not scarce as Rhodes31 has examined 26 coins and the writer has 23 coins in his cabinet. There are many variations and the writer was not able to record a duplicate for this type of coin. A range of alloys shown above seems to suggest that early coins issued were of fine silver, followed by debased issues from AD1730s until about AD1753, with fine silver pieces being struck from then on until the end of the reign. Bhatgaon was unique, however, in not identifying the debased coins by secret marker in the design.

Coins of the type Code MD34 are the most common of all Malla coins, and were struck in very large numbers, mainly for export to Tibet, where they were called "Nag-tang" (black tamka). The analyses shown above confirm the debased metal used and the coating of black grease covering the issues, it is easy to see how they acquired this name.32 Not only is the silver content lower on average in this type, but also the average weight is slightly lower, at about 5.25 gms. The trefoil tie may have started as a secret mark to distinguish the debased issues for Tibet during the period (AD1735-1753), although debased coins with rounded ties (MD33) are also found among Tibetan coins.33 Rhodes has examined 41 coins and the writer's cabinet contains 76 coins. An examination of this group has not revealed any duplicates. It can thus be seen a great many variations exist. It was not the intention of the writer to catalog these variations but only note that a great many variations are known to exist.


B. Coinage of Shah Dynasty

The coins struck by Prithvi Narayan Shah and his successors fall into two period.

Period 1 Coinage

Coins issued by Prithvi Narayan Shah as ruler of Gorkha during the period AD1742-1768.

Period 2 Coinage

II. Coinage of the Shah Dynasty

Coins issued by Prithvi Narayan Shah following his overthrow of the Malla Kingdom in AD1768 and his successors as rulers of Nepal.


A. Period 1 Coinage (AD1742-1768)

Before he conquered the Kathmandu Valley, Prithvi Narayan Shah issued silver coins to the same standard as the Malla coins. The first was in AD1749 when he struck some debased mohars of type similar to the mohars of Bhatgaon. By AD1754 the Malla Kings were striking fine silver coins, and in that year Prithvi Shah Narayan also struck a large number of coins of similar standard. Between then and his final conquest of the Valley in AD1768, Prithvi Narayan Shah issued coins on several occasions, but only in relatively small numbers. One of his innovations was to date the coins with the year of issue, rather than the year of accession. Another was to date the coins in the Saka era, rather than the Newari Samvat era.34,35 These coins were struck as a result of a trade, exchanging gold from Tibet with silver from India.36

COIN DETAILS

It is proposed that the coin shown below was minted for export to Tibet.

Year SE1671 (AD1749)
Code SD1
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Metal: Debased silver
Ref: RGV58439

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Script enclosed by a scalloped square reading: 'Sri Sri Prithvi Narayan Saha Deva' surrounded by crude Arabic script with 'damaru' and loop above and date below '1671'; all enclosed by a circle.

Reverse: Two horizontal lines forming three areas, each with script enclosed by a circle. Trident in center with script reading: 'Sri Sri Bhavani'. Eight connected fleurets each with script reading: 'Sri Sri Gorakhanatha'. Two slanting marks with bead underneath located above the line joining the fleurets; all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.


B. Period 2 Coinage (AD1769-1792)

One of Prithvi Narayan Shah (AD1769-1775) first acts was to send a deputation to Tibet with a large number of newly minted coins of the proper alloy, struck in his name. The Tibetan government was asked to sanction their circulation. The merchants of Lhasa and Shigatse, however, refused to accept the coins, and the Tibetan authorities agreed to allow their use only if Gorkha was prepared to buy back - at its face value - all the debased Malla currency then in circulation in Tibet. Kathmandu rejected this proposal outright.

Tibetan and Nepali negotiations on this issue foundered on two points (1) the exchange rate between silver or gold and the coins minted by the Gorkhas, and (2) the exchange rate between the new 'pure' Nepali coins and the older 'debased' coins. The Tibetans asserted that the currency sent to Tibet violated the agreement between Tibet and the Malla Kings concerning the proper ratio between silver and base metals in these coins. As Tibet had paid the nominal rather than the true value of the coins, it insisted that the Gorkha conquerors of Nepal should bear any loss involved in their exchange with the new 'pure' coins, arguing that a one-for-one principle should be applied. Nepal argued that the coins should be exchanged on the basis of their relative value, holding generally that the exchange ratio should be one new for two of the older coins.

During the critical AD1769-1788 period, the Kathmandu Darber (Court) labored constantly to forestall the opening of alternative routes through areas not under its control. Vigorous military campaigns of the Gorkhalis in the hill areas east and west of Kathmandu continued to accomplish this objective.

The Panchen Lama wrote to Pratap Simha Shah (AD1775-1777) on the occasion of his accession regarding trade. Immediately Pratap Simha Shah sent a new delegation, headed by a recently appointed Vakil (representative) to the Tibetan border in the Kuti area where he met Tibetan envoys. Treaty was concluded in August AD1775, stipulating:38

(1) The rate of exchange between gold and silver would be either fixed jointly between
the two governments or determined by the merchants,who would settle their own rate a
nd conduct their own transactions.
(2) Coins of the proper (i.e. traditional) alloy would be sent to Tibet by the Nepal
Government and accepted there.
(3) The position of the Newari Mahajans (merchants) and shopkeepers in Lhase
should remain unchanged.

About 1.5 million coins were sent to Tibet over the next two years, but although they relieved the coin shortage in Tibet, they did not provide a long term solution to the coinage dispute between the two countries.39

Rana Bahadur Shah (AD1777-1779) did not continue to supply coins to Tibet for long as only one example of his mohar has been recorded.40

The coinage dispute between Tibet and Nepal worsened during the period AD1788-1792. The coins sent to Tibet during the period AD1775-1777 had satisfied the need of the Tibetans for coins so there was not strong incentive for them to settle matters. The Nepalese wanted to return to the arrangement that had existed between the Malla Kings and Tibetans, with the profitable trade monopoly and coinage agreement. In AD1788 the Nepalese decided to send a punitive expedition to Tibet and the army quickly reached Shigatse, where negotiations commenced. The Tibetans were forced to sign a treaty summarized:41

(1) Nepal agreed to withdraw from the four border districts of Tibet that had
been occupied during the hostilities.
(2) Tibet agreed to pay an annual tribute of 300 dotsed of silver,
or Rs 57,600.
(3) Tibet agreed to accept and use newly minted Nepali coinage at
the rate of one new coin for two of the debased Malla coinage.
(4) Nepal was granted a right to maintain a Vakil (envoy) at Lhasa.
(5) Trade between Tibet and India was to be channeled solely through Nepal.

The clause referring to a tribute payable by the Tibetans caused some difficulty and was not formally agreed to by the Tibetan representatives although the first installment was paid. However, a year later no payment was forthcoming, so the Nepalese drew up plans to secure by force, what they felt was their due.

In AD1791, a Nepalese army was dispatched, which succeeded on its intentions of capturing as much booty as possible from Shigatse and the rich monastery of Tashilhunpa, the seat of the Panchen Lama. Before the news of this event reached Peking, the Manchu Emperor had already given orders for the invasion of Nepal.42 Under General Fu K'ang-an with any army of 15,000 together with the Tibetan army of 10,000 reached Dhaibung near Kathmandu. A fierce battle was fought near the ford of the Betravadi river. The Gorkhalis successfully defended their positions, however, and forced the invaders to retreat to their former positions after heavy loss of life. As a result of this defeat and the approach of winter, Fu F'ang-an essentially agreed to the terms laid out by Kathmandu. Fu F'and-an did not want to leave empty handed and retreated to Lhasa at the end of AD1792.43

There was no mention of coinage in the treaty and the Nepalese finally had to admit, with the Manchu presence in Lhasa, the coinage dispute was lost. The Tibetan government had begun to mint their own coinage in AD1791 and had no further use for new supplies of Nepalese coins although those already in Tibet continued to circulate well into the twentieth century.

There were some restrictions placed on the Newari merchants but in AD1796, trading with Tibet again was essentially the same as before the war.44


COIN DETAILS

Pratap Simha (AD1775-1777)
Years SE1696/99 (AD1774/77)
Code SD2
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Diam. 28.0 mm; Th. 0.7 mm; Wt. 5.39 gms.
Ref: RGV642; KM472.1; K1317

Obverse Reverse

 

Obverse: Small trident with a bead on each side enclosed in a small circle, surrounded by script and enclosed by a square with an opening in the middle of each side wherefrom two closed, curved loops extend in opposite directions toward the corners of the square. Underneath each loop is found a Buddhist symbol except at bottom which contains the date '1698'. A single bead is found on the outside of each corner. An arc with a bead connects the pairs of curved loops. The script reads: 'Sri Sri Sri Pratapa Simha Saha Deva'. All enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.

Reverse: Two horizontal lines dividing the field into three parts enclosed by a circle. Sword with garland with script on each side in central area with script in the other two parts; script reading:'Sri Sri Guhyesvari'. Eight separate fleurets each with script inserted between central and outer circle; script reading: 'Sri Sri Sri Gorakhanatha'. A group of three beads with a single bead below is found between the fleurets; all enclosed by a circle. Beaded border.


Rana Bahadur (AD1777-1799)
Code SD3
Denomination: 1 Tamka
Metal: Debased silver
Ref: RGV582a

Obverse Reverse

 

It is reported that this ruler sent coins to Tibet. It is proposed that the coin illustrated below might have been exported on the basis it is patterned after coin SD2.

Obverse: Similar to SD2 except for script which reads: 'Sri Sri Sri Rana Bahadur Saha Deva'. Date '1669'

Reverse: Script in circle reads: 'Sri 3 Bhavani' and the script in the fleurets reads: 'Sri Sri Sri Gorakhanatha'.


References:

1. Rhodes, N.G., K. Gabrisch and C. Valdettara, "The Coinage of Nepal", Royal Numismatic Society, Sp. Pub. No. 21, London, 1989, p. 56

(the contents of this narrative is largely drawn from this source).

2. Petech, L., "The Kingdom of Ladakh, c. 950-1842 A.D.", Rome, 1977, p. 51.

3. Rose, L.E. "Nepal-Strategy for Survival", Berkeley, 1971, pp. 13-14.

4. Ibid., op. cit., note 18, p.14.

5. I. Desideri, S.J., "An Account of Tibet", London, 1937, p. 167.

6. Rhodes, op. cit., p.73.

7. Petech, L. "I Missionari Italiani nel Tibet e nel Nepal", Rome, pt. III, p. 14.

8. Rhodes, op. cit., p.73.

9 Petech, L. "China and Tibet in the early 18th century", Leiden, 1950, p.133.

10. Rhodes, op. cit, p. 73.

11. Ibid., op. cit., pp. 73-74.

12. Ibid., op. cit., p. 74.

13. Ibid., op. cit., p.74.

14. Shakabpa, T.W., "Tibet, A Political History", Yale, 1967, p. 156.

15. Stiller, L.F., "The Rise of the House of Gorkha", New Delhi, 1973.

16. Dawson, D., "An Interesting Historical Letter from Tibet": Postal Himal no. 56, 1988, pp. 48-49,
no. 60, 1989, p 44.

17. Rose, op. cit., pp. 73-74.

18. Rhodes, op. cit., p. 76.

19. Du Halde, J.B., "The General History of China, containing a Geographical, Historical, Chronological, Political and Physical Description of the Empire of China, Chinese-Tatary, Corea and Tibet".
London, 4 vols., 1741 (An English Translation of the French edition, Paris, 1735). Vol II, Plate
opposite page 290 illustrates the same three Nepalese coins from the Paris edition).

20. Walsh, E.H.C., "The Coinage of Tibet", Memoirs of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol II, no. 2, pp. 11-23.

21. Kann, E., "Illustrated Catalogue of Chinese Coins", Los Angeles, 1953, pp. 396-403, plates 173-75.

22. Landon, P., "Nepal", vols I and II, Appendix XXV, Coinage, 1976, pp. 305-330.

23. Rhodes, op. cit., pp. 57-58.

24. Walsh, op. cit., pp. 17-18.

25. Landon, op. cit., p. 316.

26. Rhodes, op. cit., p. 90.

27. Ibid, op. cit. p. 90.

28. Du Halde, op. cit., vol II, Plate opposite p. 290.

29. Rhodes, op. cit., p. 114-115.

30. Ibid., op. cit., pp. 227-29, X-ray analyses.

31. Ibid., op. cit., pp. 116-117.

32. Walsh, op. cit., p. 21.

33. Rhodes, op. cit., p. 117.

34. Ibid, op. cit., p. 119.

35. Rose, op. cit., note 6, quoting Prithvi Narayan started minting coins in accordance with the
traditional terms between Nepal and Tibet in AD1749. [Baburam Acharya, "Nepal Ko Samkshipta Vrittanta", op. cit., pp. 44-45] Gorkha concluded a treaty with Lhasa legalizing the circulation of Gorkha coins in Tibet in 1755 and then two years later reached an agreement with Kathmandu on the same subject. [Ramji Tiwari (ed.), "Aitibash Patra Sangrana: Dasra Bhog". (Collection of
His torical Documents, Part II, Kathmandu, 1964].

36. Rhodes, op. cit., p. 117.

37. Ibid, op. cit., p. 119, Note 1. "Presumably these coins were struck as a result of a trade, exchanging gold from Tibet with silver from the plains."

38. Rose, op. cit., p. 32.

39. Rhodes, op. cit., p. 121.

40. Ibid, op. cit., p. 121.

41. Rose, op. cit., p. 42.

42. Ibid, op. cit., p. 54.

43. Ibid, op. cit., pp. 62-64.

44. Ibid, op. cit., p. 67.