(Last Updated on : 05/10/2011)
In the first half of the 14th century, the Sultanate introduced a monetary economy in the provinces and districts of India. The initiation of monetary system had improved the social and economical milieu.
The second Muslim invader, Mohammad Ghori, had established control in India. The dynasty is also known as the Slave Dynasty as most of the rulers started as the slaves of Mohammad Ghori, also known as Muhammad bin Sam. After driving out the later princes of Mahmud's family from Ghazni, the Ghoris made their capital in Lahore and struck small billon coins with the bull of the "bull horseman" type coins. Muhammad Ghori later minted gold coins in imitation of the coins that were current in the country. He placed the seated Lakshmi on the obverse side of the coin and inscribed his name Sri Muhammad bin Sam in Nagari letters. Later, his general, Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji, issued gold coins in his master's name. These coins display a charging Turk horseman carrying mace and bore the Nagari words 'Gaur-vijaye' on the obverse side of the coin. On the reverse side of the coin was a long Arabic legend. Muhammad bin Sam apparently struck no silver coins in his Indian dominion. He issued coins in billon of the "bull-horseman" type with the Nagari legend Sri Mahamad Sam on the bull side and Sri Hamira on the horseman side. These coins were well known among the Indian territories. Some billon coins issued by Muhammad Ghori had only retained one of the two devices of the bull-horseman type. Some coins were patterned in a way that they bore horseman, and some coins had the bull on the one side and an Arabic inscription on the other side. During this time, he also issued some copper coins. After Muhammad Ghori, his successor Mahmud issued some billon and copper coins.
After the demise of Muhammad Ghori, Indian positions came under control of one of his generals, Qutbuddin Aibak who was known to be the founder of slave or Mumluk dynasty. During the reigning period of Qutbuddin Aibak, no coin was found that bore his name. This is probably because he did not issue any coin in his name. The successor of Qutbuddin was Iltutmish who made Delhi his capital. After his enthronement, Iltutmish issued silver coins with various legends. Some of the coins issued during this period bore the 'Kalima'. Among the coins that were issued this time, most important was the coins which had the name of the Abbasid Khalifa-al-Mustansir on one side. This particular type of coins sometimes bore 'Kalima' and sometimes without 'Kalima'. This stands the testimony to the investiture that Iltutmish had received from the Khalifa in 1228 A.D. This type of coins was followed by the succeeding Sultans. They sometimes included some variation in the coins to make a mark of their own. After the death of Khalifa al-Mustansir in 1242 A.D, his name was replaced by the name of the succeeding Khalifa al-Mustasim. A notable feature of these coins of the successors of Iltutmish, Jalaluddin Razia was that she did not place her name on her coins but retained the name of her father. The only indication that the coins were issued by her was the date and the word 'nusrat' in the last line on the reverse side of the coin. Some gold and silver coins, similar to the horseman type coins of Muhammad Ghori, were also issued in the name of Iltutmish from Bengal or Gaur. The coins bore the 'Kalima' and the date in Arabic words around the horseman. The reverse side of the coin contained his name with the title 'Al-sultan al-azam Shams-ud-duniya wa al-din Abu-muzaffar Iltutmish al-Qutbi burhan (or 'nasir') amir-al-momin'. Iltutmish issued three types of coins in billon. One type of coins had a bull on the obverse and a horseman on the reverse side of the coin. They may be distinguished in various groups according to the inscriptions. Some coins bore the name of 'Khalifa'.
After the Mumluk dynasty, the kingdom was passed on to the Khiljis. The coinage of the third ruler of this dynasty, Alauddin Khilji, had attained a height as he issued plentiful coins. At the time of his reigning period and of the ruling period of his successor, Qutbuddin Mubarak Shah, gold and silver 'tankah' with heavy weight coins were issued. Silver and gold coins with at least fourteen denominations were introduced during his ruling period. Even these coins were issued in two different shapes like square and round. The patterns of the coins were changed by Alauddin Khilji and later Qutbuddin Mubarak. The gold and silver coins issued by the Delhi Sultanate were identical in their inscriptions, metals and designs. Later the pattern of the billon coins was introduced by Balban as well. During this time several other types of coins were also introduced. Each coin was named differently, according to the denominations. The value of the coins was defined by the percentage of silver present in the coin. The copper coins of the early Sultans of Delhi were smaller in value than the billon 'gani' (the term used for the billon coins). They were termed as 'visua' (one twentieth of a 'gani'), 'sava-visua' (one sixteenth of a 'gani'), 'adhava' (one eight of a 'gani') and 'paika' (five 'visua' or one fourth of a 'gani'). The names of the mint were mentioned on some of the coins issued that time.
The rulers of Tughlaq dynasty followed the patterns of Khilji coinage and coins of silver, gold, copper and billon were issued. The emperor of the Khilji dynasty, Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq introduced certain completely new patterns. His successor, Muhammad bin Tughlaq had made a distinct mark in the numismatic history of India. He started issuing coins from different parts of India and no less than nine mints worked during his time. In the reigning period of Muhammad Tughlaq, he issued coins bearing the name of his father and coins bore the super inscription of Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq accompanied by an additional title 'al-sahid' (martyr). After issuing coins in honour of his father, Muhammad Tughlaq issued coins of his own name and reintroduced the 'Kalima'. This pattern had become the permanent feature of the inscriptions of the Muslim coins in India for quite some time. Muhammad Tughlaq will always be remembered for his experiments with other aspects of coinage like weight and metals. According to the historical evidences, twenty five variations of Muhammad's billon coins were known. They were of two distinct standards, one for use at Delhi in the North and the other at Daulatabad in the South. The copper coins were of twelve types. Later on, Firoz Tughlaq inscribed the name of Khalifa Abdul-Abbas and of his two successors Abdul-Fath and Abdullah on the obverse side of the coin. The reverse side of the coin contained the name of Firoz Tughlaq with the titles 'Saif amir-ul-momnin abul-al-muzaffar'. In the reign of Muhammad bin Firoz, the actual name of the Khalifa was substituted by 'al-imam al-momnin' that connotes the supreme head of Islam, the commander of the faithful.
After the death of Mahmud, the last ruler of the Tughlaq dynasty, the nobles of the court offered the throne to Daulat Khan Lodi. After the enthronement of Bahlol Lodi, the billon and copper currency were set. The coins of Lodi rulers uniformly has the formula 'al-mutwakkal ali', the name of the issuer and the mint Delhi on one side and 'fi zaman amin al-momnin', 'khaldat khilafat' and the date on the other side of the coin. In 1526 A.D., the Lodi dynasty was ended and the Mughal dynasty came to power. The Afgan, Sher Shah Suri, rising from the humble position of a soldier in Bihar had become the virtual ruler of that land and the adjacent Bengal. He issued silver and copper coins and eliminated the mixed metal (billon) coinage. He did not issue any gold coins during his ruling period. The coins of Sher Shah bore the 'Kalima' and the names of the four Khalifas on the obverse and his name, the pious wish, the mint name and date along with the king's name 'Sri Sersahi' in Nagari letters on the reverse side of the coin. The coins of his era were issued from different parts of India. Sher Shah also issued copper coins from different mints. Besides this, there were a large series of mint less silver and copper coins which formed the currency during the early period of his conquests and consolidation of his rule.
The coins of Delhi Sultanate ushered a new genre of the pattern of coinage. The patterns of the coins were structured in a way that they stand as the replicas of the culture and the scenario of the contemporary society. The rulers of the Delhi Sultanate had set the pattern of the coins that became typical to the dynasty.