< Back     Home     Next >
The Coin Galleries: Eastern Gangas

The Eastern Gangas were a dynasty who ruled Kalinga (mostly modern Orissa) from the 9th to the 15th centuries. They were the builders of the famous Konarak Sun Temple, a World Heritage Site, and the Jagannath Temple in Puri. Their only known coins are a series of gold fanams of just under 0.50 gm and some rare quarter fanams. So far, no one has been able to attribute these coins to individual kings. In a recent paper (to appear in the journal Numismatic Digest), I have attempted for the first time to make some tentative attributions. If you can provide any additional information about these coins, or have comments on the paper, please email me.

The first task of the student of these coins is to read the dates on them, which are thought to be regnal dates. This is not an easy task since the number forms are quite unusual. The chart below shows the forms of the numerals:

Note that the number 6 does not appear on the coins. This is because the Eastern Gangas used an idiosyncratic dating system called the Anka system, which skipped all dates ending in the number 6. In addition, dating started with the number 2, and also skipped all dates ending in zero except for year 10. Additional discussion on this is available in my paper.

One other point worth noting about these coins is that they are perhaps the first coins in India, at least in Hindu India, which are dated using the "Arabic" place number system. This system, which is how we write numbers today, uses just 10 digits to write all numbers, no matter how large, with the position of the digit in the string indicating its value. The number 111, for example, uses just the numeral 1, with the first indicating a value of 100, the second a value of 10 and the third a value of 1. The old numbering system, used, for example, by the Western Kshatrapas and the Guptas, had a separate symbol for 100, another for 10, and then another for 1.



Series 1:   Bhanudeva II ? (1306-28)

Gold fanam
Weight: 0.47 gm., Diam: 11 mm., Die axis: 2:30 o'clock
Stylized humped bull seated right, symbols at right and above /
Stylized Kannada sa flanked by elephant goad and battle axe ?
   (Regnal) date below: 12
The Series 1 coin is characterized by the unusual sa on the reverse, with the curving line below. This is the only coin and date I know of ... please let me know if you have other dates of this series.
Series 2:   Narasimha III ? (1328-52)

Gold fanam
Weight: 0.47 gm., Diam: 11 mm., Die axis: 3:30 o'clock
Stylized humped bull seated right, symbols at right and above /
Stylized Kannada sa flanked by elephant goad and battle axe?
   (Regnal) date below: 12
The Series 2 coins are characterized by two properties: (i) there is a circle topped by TWO dots above in front of the bull, and (ii) the sa on the reverse has a rectangular shape but is open below. Late in the series, the sa starts to close below (see next coin). Dates known: 2, 5, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 18, 19, 22, 23, 27. If you know of other dates, please let me know.

Gold fanam
Weight: 0.47 gm., Diam: 9-10 mm., Die axis: 4:00 o'clock
Stylized humped bull seated right, symbols at right and above /
Stylized Kannada sa flanked by elephant goad and battle axe ?
   (Regnal) date below: 27
Series 3:   Bhanudeva III ? (1352-78)

Gold fanam
Weight: 0.47 gm., Diam: 10-11 mm., Die axis: 12:00 o'clock
Stylized humped bull seated right, symbols at right and above /
Stylized Kannada sa flanked by elephant goad and battle axe ?
   (Regnal) date below: 2
The Series 3 coins are characterized by two properties: (i) there is a circle topped by ONE dot above (rather than the two in the previous series) in front of the bull, and (ii) the sa on the reverse has a more elongated shape and is closed below. Dates known: 2, 3, 18, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 31, 32, 33. If you know of other dates, please let me know.
Series 4:   Narasimha IV ? (1378-1414)

Gold fanam
Weight: 0.45 gm., Diam: 10-11 mm., Die axis: 12:00 o'clock
Stylized humped bull seated right, symbols at right and above /
Stylized Kannada sa flanked by elephant goad and battle axe ?
   Nagari legend Sri Rama above, (Regnal) date below: 15
The Series 4 coins are similar to the Series 3 coins except for the addition of the words Sri Rama above the sa on the reverse. Dates known: 2, 15. If you know of other dates, please let me know.
Series 5:   Bhanudeva IV ? (1414-34 ?)

Gold fanam
Weight: 0.48 gm., Diam: 10-11 mm., Die axis: 6:00 o'clock
Stylized humped bull seated right, symbols at right and above /
Stylized Kannada sa flanked by elephant goad and battle axe ?
   Nagari legend Sri Rama above, (Regnal) date below: 5
The Series 5 coins are similar to the Series 4 coins except that (i) the circle in front of the obverse bull has become a conch and the circle above the bull has become a chakra or discus. Dates known: 3, 4, 5, 7, 15, 17. If you know of other dates, please let me know.
© CoinIndia
All Rights Reserved Copyright Policy
< Back     Home     Next >