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Chitresvara-Siva Type Coins: Classification and Attribution

Devendra Handa (Author)

Copper coins bearing the figure of Siva holding trident with battle-axe in his right hand and leopard skin hanging from his left arm with early Brahmi legend around on the obverse and a deer facing an arched symbol with a railed tree at the back and some subsidiary symbols in the field on the reverse have a long history of their first discovery while digging a canal at Behat near Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh in 1834. It was in 1891 that Alexander Cunningham deciphered the legend as Bhagavato Chatreswara Mahatana and because of the resemblance of their reverse device to the silver coins which he identified as those of the Kuninda people, Cunningham listed them as the Kuninda coins. John Allan, J.N. Banerjea, K.K. Dasgupta, M.C. Joshi and Ajay Mitra Shastri have attempted to modify the legend which has now been generally accepted to be Bhagavata(/o) Ch(i)tresvara Mahatmana(h). Chitresvara is the name under which Siva is still worshipped in Uttarakhand. Shastri brought to light four new specimens of these coins bearing on the obverse three-headed Siva sitting on Apasmara-purusha removing all doubts that the word Chitresvara stood for Siva.


Cunningham’s attribution of these coins to the Kunindas has remained a dogma and many scholars, collectors and auction houses continue to follow it. I have studied hundreds of specimens of a big unpublished hoard from Garhwal and various institutional and private collections, fixed their provenience and classified them into three classes and five types bringing to light more than a hundred of their varieties attributing them to the Yaudheyas.

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About the author

Devendra Handa

Shri Devendra Handa holds Post-Graduate degrees in Sanskrit, History and Education-all in First class and with top positions in the University. He obtained his Post-Graduate Diploma in Archaeology from the School of Archaeology (ASI, New Delhi) in 1964 with Credit (Distinction). He is the recipient of Maulana Azad and Archaeological Centenary Commemoration Medals, Sir Mortimer Wheeler Prize and various other awards. He is known to the indologists through more than three hundred research papers and the following books and monographs: 1 Osian: History, Archaeology, Art & Architecture, Delhi, 1984; 2 Studies in Indian Coins and Seals, Delhi, 1985; 3 Indological Studies: Essays in Memory of Shri S.P. Singhal, Delhi, 1987 (Ed.); 4 Ajaya-Sri: Recent Studies in Indology (Prof. Ajay Mitra Shastri Felicitation Volume), 2 Vols., Delhi, 1989 (Ed.); 5 Praci-Prabha: Perspectives in Indololgy (Essays in honour of Prof. B.N. Mukherjee), New Delhi, 1989 (Ed. Jointly with Prof. D.C. Bhattacharyya); 6 Ratna-Chandrika: Panorama of Oriental Studies (Shri R.C. Agrawala Festschrift), New Delhi, 1989 (Ed. Jointly with Prof. Ashvini Agrawal); 7 Heritage of Haryana: Buddhist Remains, Chandigarh, 1989; 8 Vishvambhara: Probings in Orientology (Prof. V.S. Pathak Festschrift), 2 Vols. New Delhi, 1995 (Ed. Jointly with Prof. Ajay Mitra Shastri and C.S. Gupta); 9 Numismatic Studies, Vols. 1-3 (1991-93), New Delhi (Ed.); 10 Oriental Numismatic Studies, Vols. 1-2 (1994 & 1996), Delhi (Ed.). He has attended numerous national and international conferences and delivered lectures in various institutions. In 1992, he got the Lowick Memorial Grant of the Royal Numismatic Society, London for studying the tribal coins of India. In 1993, he visited Sri Lanka on the invitation of the Sri Lanka Numismatic Society. He was honoured for his contributions to the science of numismatics at Calcutta in 1994. After a teaching career of more than thirty years, he finally retired from the Panjab University, Chandigarh in 1999. After his retirement from the Panjab University, Chandigarh, he was a Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study at Shimla (2000-2003) and Senior Fellow of the Ministry of Culture, GOPI, New Delhi (2003-2005). He presided over the 88th Annual Conference of the Numismatic Society of India at Nagpur in 2004 and Seminar on Coinage of the North West India at Chandigarh in 2005.

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Bibliographic information

Title Chitresvara-Siva Type Coins: Classification and Attribution
Format Hardcover
Date published: 02.12.2021
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 9788173056598
length xiv+90p, Plates; 25cm.