Medieval Indian Kings and Coins

Kings and their Coins – Golconda Sultanate

Collecting coins has been a hobby since childhood for me. My dad had a decent coin collection, and from him, I learnt the basics. I rediscovered the hobby in adulthood, especially when my interest in history began to develop. Today, this is one of the hobbies that help me unplug and indulge in without any electronic interference.

Today, I want to share with you two coins from my current collection. In medieval India, sikka, or the right to mint money, was one of the symbols of sovereignty. Most medieval kingdoms had their own coins, and they carry the name of the monarch whose reign they were minted in. These coins, while not being available in plenty, aren’t exactly rare either. You just have to keep looking till you find them!

The city I live in, Hyderabad, was built in 1591 CE by a king called Mohamed Quli Qutb Shah, the most prosperous and arguably the most powerful king of the Qutb Shahi line, which ruled over the Golconda kingdom from 1512 to 1687 CE. Coins from the Qutb Shahi era are among the rarer ones, and those that are still around have not stood the test of time very well. They are worn out, covered with dirt or patination, or sometimes even broken into bits. So when I came across a coin from the reign of Mohamed Quli Qutb Shah (1580 to 1611 CE) in decent shape, I was quite excited.

To the untrained (like mine) eye, the coin is unremarkable. But to an experienced numismatist, it bears the name of the king and the kingdom. The inscription reads, ‘Adl Mohamed Quli Qutb Shah darb dar al-saltanat Golconda.

Here’s the coin, and the king who had it minted:

Mohamed Quli Qutb Shah and a coin minted during his reign
Mohamed Quli Qutb Shah and a coin minted during his reign

The second coin I wanted to share with you is from the reign of Mohamed Quli Qutb Shah’s grandson, Abdullah, who ruled for 46 years – from 1626 CE to 1672 CE. His was an interesting kingship, but usually dismissed by historians (unfairly, in my opinion) as not a noteworthy reign. But the very fact that he ruled for 46 years at a time when the Mughals were approaching the peak of their marauding expansionism, maintaining an often-strained truce with them based on personal relationships his dad and he had cultivated with several royal personages makes him noteworthy in my book.

Here’s the coin, and the king who had it minted

Abdullah Qutb Shah and a coin minted during his reign
Abdullah Qutb Shah and a coin minted during his reign

These coins are quite tiny – they are about the size of your thumbnail. You can see them next to a ruler marked in millimeters to get an idea of their actual size.

Two coins minted in Golkonda, with an indication of their size
Two coins minted in Golkonda, with an indication of their size

The medieval and early modern history of the Deccan is a very significant one, especially from the perspective of how it has directly influenced the way things are today. I have a special interest in this period and geography, and these coins are a special part of my collection for this reason as well!

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