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A relook at history writ on coins

- A unique museum to open in Bikaner today

Jorhat, Oct. 26: Come Saturday and the people of Rajasthan will get a glimpse of Northeast’s past glory, thanks to the efforts of a numismatist from this Upper Assam town.

O.P. Gattani, an avid coin collector, will display coins of the Ahom, Koch-Rajbongshi and Kachari eras in a bid to showcase the bygone glory of the Northeast that was on a par with the princely states of Rajasthan.

Gattani said the museum, which is being inaugurated tomorrow at Nokha, Bikaner, in Rajasthan, had 23 coins minted during the rule of Ahom kings Rudra Singha, Rajeswar Singha, Pratap Singha, Gaurinath Singha and Phuleswari Konwari. “It was during their time that the Ahom kingdom reached its peak and many coins were found dating back to their reigns. The majority were octagonal, had different denominations and had pictures of the rulers embossed on one side. A whole era of history can be reconstructed from proper study of these coins.”

The princely states of Rajasthan also minted innumerable coins that speak of a thriving economy, but the ones coined in Assam bear testimony to the glory of the Ahom rule. For instance, a majority of the coins minted during Ahom rule were made of silver, copper being rarely used.

“The earliest Ahom coins found were made during the reign of Jayadhwaja Singha (1648-63). Till 1689, the norm was to date the coins by the year of coronation of the king but Rudra Singha (1696 -1714) instituted the practice of dating the coins by the year of issue. He also started inscribing the coins in Sanskrit and the Ahom script was used on a few ceremonial coins,” Gattani said.

He said these coins would obviously fascinate people visiting the museum at Bikaner as few people knew about Ahom kings who ruled Assam for around 600 years from the 13th century.

The museum — OPG’s Coins and Curio Collection — will also contain coins from 22 princely states of Rajasthan, the Sultanate of Bengal, Bhutan, as well as a few minted by the British East India Company. “There will be about 400 coins on display dating between 1709 and 1948. Of these, 23 will be of the Ahom era and four or five from Cooch Behar,” Gattani said.

Among the curios will be old postcards, cameras, matchboxes, inkpots and clocks and wristwatches.


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