(Last Updated on : 16/08/2011)
Coins of Mughal Empire are the manifestation of the culture and the economic state of affairs of the time. The history of the Mughals depicts that in fourteenth century A.D., Timur conquered Western Asia. After five generations, the Mughals set foot in India. In 1526 A.D., Babur after defeating the Delhi Sultanate Ibrahim Lodi
in the battle of Panipat, entered in India. Though Delhi was occupied by Babur, he and his son Humayun failed to set a strong foundation. After the death of Humayun, his son Akbar laid the foundation of the Mughal Empire and extended his rule successfully over the provinces of north and central India.
Coins of Mughal Emperor Babur
The usage of coins started during the reign of Babur. Such coins were also issued by Humayun and Akbar (during the first three years of his reign). Babur issued silver 'shahrukhis'. However, these coins were actually introduced by the Timurid ruler, Shah Rukh in early fifteenth century A.D. These coins were thin broad pieces of about 72 grains. On the alternative side of the coins was the enclosed 'Kalima' with the names of four 'Khalifas' and their epithets in the margin. The reverse side of the coin included the king's name and in the margin were his titles along with the name of the mint and date. The coins of Babur bear the names and titles Al-sultan al-azam wa al-khakan al-mukarram Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur Badshah Ghazi. The titles on Humayun's coins were same as on the coins of Babur. On Humayun's coins the name Muhammad Humayun Badshah Ghazi was used. On Akbar's coins, he retained the earlier titles and used his name as Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar Badshah.
In the reign of Humayun, he had also issued some heavier silver coins that were termed as rupee. These coins were known since long but in the absence of clear mint-name on them, they remained ignored. The British Museum secured a coin that belonged to the reign of Humayun with a clear mint name Bangala dated 945 A.H. It had been described that Humayun issued them while he campaigning against Sher Shah Suri
in Bengal during the time. According to the historical evidences, Humayun also issued some gold coins of the 'shahrukhi' style from Agra and some tiny gold coins. Some anonymous copper coins were also issued by Babur
and bear only the mint's name on one side and the date on the other. These coins are said to be issued from places where the 'shahrukhis' were issued.
During the reign of Akbar, gold, copper and silver coins were issued as well. The Mughal emperor adopted the weight and fabric of Suri coinage and the coins were made by following the pattern of the same coinage. The gold coins were termed as 'muhars'. Primarily, heavy weight coins were common and the light weight coins were rare but with time the light weight coins became popular and the heavy weight coins became rare. Before 988 A.H., no fractional coins in any metal are known. But from the time onward some fractional coins came into existence in all metals. The original shape of Akbar's coins was basically round and later the shapes of the coins were changed to square shape for silver and gold coins. During 993 to 998 A.H., both round and square coins were issued simultaneously and in later years coins of hexagonal shape were also made. Apart from the weight and shape, the coins made during the reigning period of Akbar can be distinguished in two styles according to the content of their inscriptions. In the later times of ruling period, Akbar had changed his conception of religion and this was reflected on the coins in a better way.
After the death of Akbar, Jahangir ascended the throne. During this time, some gold coins were issued from Agra with a couplet and these coins are considered as posthumous issues in the name of Akbar
. A gold 'muhar' was also issued with the portrait of Akbar. The gold coins bore the first Regnal year of Jahangir and the Hijri year. Meanwhile, silver coins were issued from Ahmedabad
and Kabul with his name as Prince Salim. After the formal enthronement of Jahangir, he ordered to increase the weight of gold and silver coins. But after a few years, it had been noticed that the heavy weight coins were inconvenient in transactions. Thus the earlier weight of the coins those were prevalent in the time of Akbar was resituated. Jahangir instructed to include a couplet composed by Amir-ul-umra Sharif Khan on the coins after his enthronement.
Between the reigning period of Jahangir and Shah Jahan, the son of Khusru, Dawar Bakhsh occupied the throne and ruled for three months. During this period, Dawar Bakhsh issued some silver coins which bore the 'Kalima' on one side and Abu-muzaffar Dawar Bakhsh Badshsh on the other side. With the termination of the ruling period of Dawar Bakhsh, Shah Jahan came into power. During his entire ruling period, Shah Jahan issued gold and silver coins bearing the 'Kalima' and the mint's name on one side. On the other side of the coin was decked with his name and title Sahib-qiran Sani Shihabuddin Muhammad Shah Jahan Badshah Ghazi. During the first five years of his ruling period, the superscriptions on the coins were plain and simple but in the later years, Shah Jahan employed a type endless in its varieties. These coins enclosed the 'Kalima' on the obverse and the name of the emperor on the reverse. Shah Jahan followed the example of Jahangir by using the Ilahi months on the coins with his regnal year. Even he ordered his regnal year be reckoned according to the lunar system, on which the Hijri era is based. Including these coins, the copper coins of Shah Jahan seem to bear the 'Kalima' with the name of the king and his titles and the name of the mint on the coins.
In 1656-57 A.D., at the time of succession to the throne followed when Shah Jahan
was seriously ill, Shah Shuja and Murad Bakhsh asserted their claims by issuing coins in their names. After the ruling period of Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb came on to the throne in 1659 A.D. and proscribed the use of the 'Kalima' on his coins. His coins had the inscriptions of his name and title Abu-al-zafar Muiuddin Muhammad Bahadur Shah Alamgir Aurangzeb Badshah Ghazi in the early years. During his reigning period, the copper coins became fairly well known. Primarily the heavy weight coins were issued in his time, but later the weight of the coins were reduced perhaps due to the rise of the metal price. However, heavy weight coins are found in the time of his reign and those of his successors Shah Alam I and Farrukhsiar.
With the termination of the reign of Aurangzeb
, the Mughal Empire began to break up gradually and the history of India in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is one of a multitude of independent states though they maintained the prestige of the Mughal Empire. In addition, a large number of coins bear the names of the Mughal rulers; they were not related to the Mughal Empire at all.
The coins of Mugal Empire also include the coinage of the successors of Aurangzeb
. The later Mughals made copper coins that had the king's name and Hijri on the obverse and the mint name and regnal year on the reverse. Including the gold 'muhars' and the silver 'rupee', the rulers of Mughal emperors also issued coins of small denomination. The most common coin of these was 'nisar', a quarter rupee that was struck by Jahangir, Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb, Jahandar Shah and Farrukhsiar. Though gold 'nisars' are known but are extremely rare.
The Mughal rulers struck coins of higher denominations in gold and silver, apart from the gold 'muhar' and silver rupee and their fractions, to present the ambassadors, ladies and other favourites. The coins of Akbar
have secured a position in the Ain-i-Akbari and of Jahangir
in his autobiography Tujuk-i-Jahangiri. Moreover, the coins made in the Mughal era were preserved by different museums located in India and also in abroad.