White whales swim in pods! Indo Sassanian, Pratiharas SRI JA, matchstick profile

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Finn235, Apr 18, 2021.

  1. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    After five years of scouring ebay on a weekly basis, plus auction houses on the rare occasion that they are offered, there aren't many types of Indo Sassanian coins that I don't own yet. This was one type until last month when a small hoard came up for sale on ebay

    India, Pratiharas, uncertain intermediate period
    ca 650-750 AD?
    Obv: Highly degenerate bust of Peroz I, made of long thin bars and circles, ornate Nagari "SRI" atop crown slightly left of center, stylized intermediate form of JA, Crescent, and pellet before
    Rev: Degenerate fire altar with highly stylized attendants, bodies made of a long line tapering off to a point, curved line behind

    Ref Maheshwari 1374-1384

    This one shows the SRI atop the crown very well, as well as the head and necklace of the attendant
    ZomboDroid 16042021185934.jpg

    This one shows nearly the full fire altar; instead of a pyramid of flame pellets, there is only a single large circle!
    ZomboDroid 16042021145424.jpg

    This one shows a Degenerate form of SRI
    ZomboDroid 16042021145808.jpg

    This one shows the detail of the attendants' body
    ZomboDroid 16042021145916.jpg

    Partial SRI visible on this one
    ZomboDroid 16042021150021.jpg

    This one shows the details of the bottom of the bust
    ZomboDroid 16042021150636.jpg

    Another good portrait, the JA is barely visible, and the fire altar and attendants are well struck too - notice the cluster of dots representing the sun above the left attendant's head
    ZomboDroid 16042021150752.jpg

    This one shows a clear JA and the lower portion of the reverse quite well

    ZomboDroid 16042021190015.jpg

    Another crisp portrait with a weak JA
    ZomboDroid 16042021190052.jpg

    Decently struck on both sides
    ZomboDroid 16042021150532.jpg
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  3. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    Another showing the details under and behind the bust
    ZomboDroid 16042021190138.jpg

    A crisp strike in better silver than typical for the type
    ZomboDroid 16042021190221.jpg

    Notice the size of the nose and shape of the ear - indicating that there are perhaps sub-types expressed within the series
    ZomboDroid 16042021190316.jpg

    Another showing the details under the portrait
    ZomboDroid 16042021190355.jpg

    Another with a clear JA
    ZomboDroid 16042021190447.jpg

    This is the best example showing the details in front of the bust - note also that the details below the bust also more closely represent the original necklace and shoulders of the bust
    ZomboDroid 16042021190533.jpg
    Another good bust on this one
    ZomboDroid 16042021190622.jpg
    Another showing the Ja, Crescent and pellet
    ZomboDroid 16042021190714.jpg
    This one seems to almost have a gnarled nose? The pellets at the bottom right of the obverse I think are from a mis-strike that was then corrected
    ZomboDroid 16042021190754.jpg

    Here are the examples from Maheshwari

  4. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    I find it fascinating that one of the Pratihara dies preserves a detail as fine as the "cluster of dots representing the sun above the left attendant's head" from the Sasanian prototype (compare below), yet the overall design is so stylized. zY7C6eGgTK3y9qgRDqT84X9nmwJ5x2.jpg (image courtesy Traianus Coins, VCoins)
    Theodosius, Finn235, Spaniard and 2 others like this.
  5. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    Saw these come and go....Interesting group! These stick portraits remind me of the Sri Vigra Dramma types...Congrats on picking up this difficult to find variety...
    Here's something related although I'm not sure how close, maybe 200 years?
    Palas Dynasty Bengal 850-988AD Sri Vigra dramma 18.5mm/3.78gr
    Vigrahapala I, 861-866?
    Obverse-King's bust to right (I really like the style of this portrait)
    Reverse-Fire altar
    MNI# 385
  6. SeptimusT

    SeptimusT Well-Known Member

    I only know a little about these types, but I admire your persistence and attention to detail with this series! I hope it results in some new knowledge that helps everyone understand them better.
    Finn235 and +VGO.DVCKS like this.
  7. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    Thanks all!

    @dltsrq - That is perhaps what draws me in to the series so much - the series covers nearly 900 years (from about 500 AD - 1350 AD or later) and goes to extreme lengths of abstraction along 3 evolutionary paths, about a hundred sub-series, and hundreds of varieties, within each series there is always some part of the design that the engravers cling to legalistically. For almost all of this series (Pratiharas / Track 3) it's the "snickers bar" design of the fire altar, but other things like the sun also can cling on for dear life even as the overall design slips into madness.

    @Spaniard - these are indeed related to that one, sort of a weird uncle if you will. A quick breakdown of the evolution of the series...

    Early SRI MA coinage...
    Pratihara sri MA drachm.jpg

    Which degenerates into something like this

    On some extremely rare examples the MA is replaced by JA (looks like a capital E)
    Indo Sassanian Sri Ja.jpg

    The top of the JA pops off and the bottom becomes a curved line in this series
    ZomboDroid 16042021190533.jpg

    Then a common type emerges, Maheshwari reads it as PRAA JA but I think it is still SRI JA (this one is directly related to the earlier JA, the OP series developed perhaps in parallel?)
    ZomboDroid 26082019125920.jpg

    From here the engravers decided to come back to reality, "Proto Sri Vigra" as Maheshwari calls them, but still reading SRI JA
    Proto Sri Vigra Type 2 attendants.jpg

    Then the legend changes- SRI VIGRA and the body of the fire altar becomes either SA or MA (@Spaniard's is MA)
    Indo sassanian palas sri vigra dramma.jpg

    Then the plain body comes back, the attendants become more stylized, and the legend shortens to SRI VI
    ZomboDroid 26022020151832.jpg

    Then comes Bhoja I (836-885), one of only four rulers who issued a known Indo-Sassanian type - the popular Adivaraha Dramma, which kept the bottom portion of the Sri Vi reverse only
    Pratiharas bhoja I early dramma.jpg

    His types were continued for about a century after his death, finally closing with Vinayakapala in the 950s, when this track supposedly comes to an end.
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