Coins that narrate stories of the royalty

Coins that narrate stories of the royalty

Coins - Bahmani

Bahmani Sultanate played an important role in developing art, architecture, culture and literature in Kalaburagi and the surrounding areas where they ruled. The coins minted by the Bahmani kingdom indicate their innovative approach as they are not only known for calligraphy but also for the wealth of information they provide. From the mint’s name to the year of issue and the name of the ruler, these coins narrate various facets of the time. Another characteristic of their coins is the mention of the name of the issuer’s father, thus linking the generations. The eighteen Bahmani kings can be easily identified through their coins.

Fatahbad (Daulatabad), Ahsanabad (Kalaburagi), Muhamadabad (Bidar) and Goa (Dabul) were the mints of the Bahmani rulers. These names are clearly mentioned on all the coins they issued. Fatahbad was the name given to Daulatabad by the first sultan, Alauddin Bahman Shah. This place was his capital for a while before it was shifted to Ahsanabad. This was the capital of the first eight rulers and coins of all types were minted in these places till the capital was shifted to Bidar. Later, the coins were minted from Muhamadabad and Goa.

I got to know all these aspects when I visited history enthusiast Mohammed Ismail, who is known for his collection of Bahmani coins. His interest in numismatics began when he was in seventh standard, when he collected coins from the annual urs fair of the famed Dargah Khawaja Bandanawaz in Kalaburagi. 

He is a regular at numismatic exhibitions, auctions and seminars. Since 2010, he has been attending coin exhibitions organised by Mumbai Coins Society, Bombay Coins at Sunder Bhai Hall and Karnataka Numismatic Societies exhibition in Bengaluru. He has presented papers in seminars on the subject as well. He is a member of Karnataka Numismatic Society, Mumbai Coin Society and Indian Coin Currency Group. 

He has around 1,500 coins of the Bahmani period, which cover about 80% of the coins minted during their rule. He says, “From 1347 to 1538, the Bahmani’s issued coins in gold, silver and copper. There are variations in the size and weight of coins. The weight of copper coins vary from 1.8 gram to 16 grams, gold coins weigh between 11 to 20 grams, silver coins were of a uniform weight of about one to 11 grams. This coin probably divides into the scales of 1/4, 1/6, 1/16, 1/32 and 1/64 as was customary in ancient India. 

According to the list provided by Ismail, Alauddin Bahman Shah, the first sultan, issued one gold, four silver and five copper coins in different sizes. Muhammad Shah released two gold, eight silver and six copper coins. Firuz Shah, the last king to rule from Kalaburagi, released two gold, three silver and six copper coins.

The king who introduced Bidri art and various other types of art and architecture, Ahmed Shah, shifted the Bahmani capital to Bidar. He released one silver and six copper coins. Alauddin II released two gold, one silver and six copper coins. Humayun Shah released two gold, one silver and four copper coins. Ahmad Shah III released two gold and five copper coins. Muhammad Shah III released one gold, one silver and six copper coins. The last three rulers minted only copper coins. 

Most of the coins of Bahmani rulers  are round in shape, while some are rectangular. With all these details and more, Ismail is planning to publish a book on the coins of the Bahmani period.