Maitrakas of Valabhi 475-700 AD - The Last Hurrah of the Indo-Greek Drachm

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Finn235, Apr 13, 2021.

  1. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    Finally got this page of my Indian album imaged!

    In the late 5th century as the remnants of the Roman Empire were being wiped from existence by the Germanic kingdoms, the mighty Gupta Empire experienced its own share of troubles. Alchon huns had been raiding from the north for decades, and Skandagupta could barely keep his empire from splitting at the seams. With his death in 467, the empire began to crumble, and nominally tributary states began to assert autonomy and later independence.

    One of the more prominent examples was the Maitraka dynasty, centered at Valabhi, which controlled modern-day Gujarat and roughly the same territory as the Western Kshatrapas who had ruled less than a century prior.


    Their dynasty began in ca. 475 with the rise of the general Bhatarka, who claimed subservience to the Gupta dynasty as a formality, but ruled with complete autonomy. He began to issue silver drachms in the model of the Western Kshatrapas and Guptas, which no doubt probably both saturated the rich trading ports of Gujarat. Unlike the predominantly Buddhist Kshatrapas and the Vaishnavist Guptas, Bhatarka was a Shaivite, dedicated to the worship of Shiva, and as such opted to use the Trishula, or Trident of Shiva, as as central image of his drachms.

    After his death in 493, his successors decided to freeze Bhatarka's design in place, although over time it became increasingly stylized and debased. The Maitraka dynasty survived the collapse of the Gupta Empire, the expulsion of the Huns, the rapid expansion and collapse of Harsha's empire, the Arab invasions, and ultimately fell to the Chaulukya-Saindhava dynasties in about 783. During this time, a university was founded at Vallabhi which was internationally renowned, attracting pupils from as far away as China.

    Numismatically, the coinage of the Maitrakas is difficult to sort out due to the frozen legends. It is not known how long the coins were minted, or when they were ultimately abandoned for the Gadhaiya Paisa, which would dominate the region. They do however constitute the last issuance of the Indo-Greek drachm of c. 2g, first introduced by Apollodotus I in about 175 BC and continued through the reign of the Indo-Scythians, Indo-Parthians, Western Kshatrapas, and Guptas.

    The generally accepted reading is Rájño, Mahákshatrapasa Bhatarakasa Mahesara Śrí Śarvva Bhaṭṭárakasa, "King and Great Satrap, Bhatarka the Great King, the Lord, Devotee of Maheshwara"

    The coins:

    First, an exceptionally fine style, likely minted during the lifetime of Bhatarka, featuring extremely spread arms of the Trishula
    Maitrakas of Vallabhi Bhatarka AR drachm.jpg

    By contrast, this slightly later(?) one depicts the trishula more like a fork
    Maitrakas AR drachm straight trident.jpg

    Some more in early style, my picks from a large lot purchased from CNG several years back
    Maitrakas Bhatarka AR drachm.jpg
    Maitrakas of Vallabhi AR drachm fine style.jpg
    Maitrakas AR drachm full legend.jpg

    Two intermediate styles, showing visible debasement and simplification of the motifs
    Maitrakas of Vallabhi BI drachm late style.jpg
    Maitrakas late BI drachm.jpg

    And finally the "latest" specimen I have, now almost completely copper with highly stylized designs
    Maitrakas late style BI drachm.jpg

    Post anything related!
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  3. JayAg47

    JayAg47 Well-Known Member

    Kumaragupta, Gupta empire, 5th century.
    Mahendravarman I, Pallavas, 600-630 AD.
    Pandyas, early period, circa 150 bc
    Cholas (although not in the map during this time-period, they were just a client kingdom of the Pallavas!)
    However this coin dates around 1st-2nd century AD
    Chalukyas, unknown ruler, circa 10th century.
    I'm also waiting on some South Indian/Ceylon imitative Roman coins from the late 5th century!
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2021
    Ryro, +VGO.DVCKS, Finn235 and 4 others like this.
  4. THCoins

    THCoins Well-Known Member

    Very nice series ! Thanks for showing this complete overview.

    Do you have a reference for this ? For i bet you looked into this yourself, and just looking at your first coin it is quite clear to see that this is not correct !
    If you count out the characters starting with "RaJno" there is no space for the "Sa" after "MaHaKsaTraPa". The next character looks a bit like "Pa" but is bigger and more plump. I think this is "Dha". The remainder of the text then is "DhaRaMaDiTya BhaKta". The next word is still debated, and then comes the "Sri SaRvva.."part.
    The "bhakta" is "devotee of".
    Ryro and Spaniard like this.
  5. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    @Finn235 .....Nice write up and coins!
    As to the legend I do know that THC has a work in progress article that I've just read on this type,,Very interesting and impressive work!...
    Here's my humble offering...Quite debased 2.10gr/11.4mm diameter..I have this referenced as MAITRAKAS of VALABHI MWI#254??
    MAT 2.jpg
  6. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Thanks for this very informative post! I also have a tiny, late, debased example that I got for a couple bucks:

  7. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    What an amazing assemblage of these beauties you've amassed! Thanks for sharing!!!
    My two cents
    Collage_2020-11-11_14_19_49-removebg-preview.png 20190326_133857_CF436ECD-0C2F-4B5D-A4C5-4CEDF9E7BAC2-406-000000A7F98E4368.png
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