GUWAHATI, Aug 17 - The coins of Assam, particularly those minted during the Ahom era were not only used in trade and commerce, but also as gifts to temples and Brahmins, said noted numismatist SK Bose, a former State Bank of India official known for his knowledge on coins of Assam. Bose has been studying coins of Assam for the past several decades.
Born and brought up at Dhubri, Bose spent his entire service period in the northeastern region of the country as an SBI employee, before shifting to Kolkata for availing the library facilities there for his numismatics studies.
Talking to this correspondent, 80-year-old Bose said that there is a notion that the Ahom-era coins were not used in trade and commerce. Records in the archives in Dispur, New Delhi and at the India Library in London have it that the Ahom-era coins were indeed used in trade and commerce, besides making donations to temples and Brahmins.
The Ahom rulers struck their coins � mostly octagonal in shape � year wise and the mint year is clearly mentioned on them. The minting quality of the Ahom coins were superior compared to the coins minted in other parts of the country during the mediaeval period, said Bose.
Moreover, he said the intrinsic value of the Ahom-era coins was higher than that of the Sicca coins of the British East India Company. The Ahom rulers minted their coins mostly in silver, even as they minted a few of them in gold.
It is learnt from records of the British colonial rulers that in their initial days in Assam, the Ahom-era coins were highly coveted by the Assamese people compared to the British coins. The British also minted their coins in both silver and gold, but their coins were not that popular in the markets of Northeast India, Bose added.
Holiram Dhekial Phukan, who had witnessed the period when the British East India Company was extending its control over Assam, recorded in 1829 the monetary system prevailing during that period in this part of the country.
During that period, beside Ahom Rajah mohree, Koch narayani coins along with the French-Indian arcot and British-India sikka coins were in circulation in Assam and neighbouring areas. As the above coins varied in their weight and intrinsic value, the coins were accepted by the traders and administrative authorities on the basis of batta system (exchange rate).
Many a time, though the Ahom coins were of lesser weight than the British coins, the batta rate was in favour of the Ahom coins. In Upper Assam and neighbouring areas, Ahom coins were more popular.
In spite of their lesser weight, no batta was in existence between Raja mohree and East India Company sikka. Sikka did not enjoy any extra advantage, said the renowned numismatic.