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CHITRESVARA-SIVA TYPE COINS: CLASSIFICATION AND ATTRIBUTION

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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 I have studied hundreds of specimens of a big unpublished hoard from Garhwal and various institutional and private collections, fixed their provenience and classified them into three classes and five types bringing to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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