Chola grail coin acquired!

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by JayAg47, Jul 9, 2024.

  1. JayAg47

    JayAg47 Well-Known Member

    Have you ever spent a long time searching for an elusive coin, only to unexpectedly come across it while browsing randomly? Although this coin is not extremely rare, it is certainly not as readily available as its copper counterparts. Most auction houses that feature them are based in India and do not ship overseas, while Western auction houses offer them only rarely, unlike the more common anonymous Kahavanu.


    Raja Raja Chola
    AV Kahavanu
    Chola Empire
    985-1014 AD
    20 mm, 4.24 g
    Ceylon type, period of Chola invasion.
    Obverse: The depiction showcases a standing king facing right, adorned with a pointed crown. The king holds a lotus in his right hand and points at the Shrivatsa symbol with his left hand. A degenerate coconut palm tree is situated on the far left. The king is attired in a wavy Dhoti, characterised by two curved lines on either side and one line in between the legs, resembling tentacles and earning the moniker 'octopus man.' The king stands on a lotus plant stalk with a small circle in the center, concluding on the left in a conch shell and featuring a lotus bud on the right. Five pellets to the right, meaning 'Pala-Panca', Panca meaning 5, denoting 5 Pala coins weighing 1.10g each. While 5 of those coins weigh more than the Kahavanu itself, earlier types have only 4 dots, that would make 4 Palas equal 1 kahavanu (Probably a result of inflation).
    Reverse: Seated king facing right, with his left hand resting on his left leg and his right hand holding a conch shell. His right leg rests on a couch or bed-like throne known as asana. On the right side of the field, a Devanagari legend is inscribed in three lines, reading Sri RA JA RA JA.
    Codrington 104; Mitchiner 729; Biddulph 5.
    Ex Heritage Auctions Europe, Auction 82, Lot 7499 (May 2024).
    Ex Podlaski Gabinet Numizmatyczny Marek Melcer, June 2024.

    A bit of a history:
    Raja Raja Chola I's invasion of Sri Lanka around 993 CE was a significant military campaign aimed at expanding the Chola Empire's influence, another reason being, the Sinhalese were an ally of the Pandyas, the arch nemesis of Cholas. He launched the invasion by swiftly capturing and destroying Anuradhapura, the ancient capital of the Anuradhapura Kingdom, marking its end. The capital was then shifted to Polonnaruwa (renamed Jananathapuram) as the new administrative centre under Chola control. The Chola forces continued their campaign southwards, subjugating the entire northern and central regions of Sri Lanka and capturing the Sinhalese ruler, Mahinda V.

    The Cholas established a well-organised administration, integrating the newly conquered territories into their empire. This included issuing coinage that imitated the local anonymous Kahavanu, as shown in my example below. With the Chola Empire now encompassing most of South India and Sri Lanka, and benefiting from trade with the Arabs and Chinese, it became one of the wealthiest empires of its time. This wealth funded grand projects, most notably the Brihadeeswara Temple, dedicated to Shiva, which was built in 1010 AD.


    Thank you!
    GeorgeM, svessien, Sulla80 and 14 others like this.
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  3. Sulla80

    Sulla80 Well-Known Member

    Great coin, writeup and photo @JayAg47 - I clearly need more practice in photographing gold - this picture came out quite muddy:
    Sri Lanka Chola Invasion AV.jpg
    Johndakerftw, Bing and JayAg47 like this.
  4. JayAg47

    JayAg47 Well-Known Member

    For photographing gold, sunlight is your friend or any warm light source. Ever noticed jewelries always use yellow lighting to pop up their gold!
    Sulla80 likes this.
  5. svessien

    svessien Senior Member

    Yes, and it's a great feeling:) Congratulations, what a great coin!
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