Inscribed Lead Tokens/Coins from Ancient Ruhuna

2nd Century BCE to 2nd Century CE

A selection from Raja Wickramasinghe's collection

Illustrated below is a collection of 46 Lead Tokens of 41 are ex Raja Wickramasinghe's collection, and 5 lead tokens, I obtained in the early 2000's from directly from Mr Ratnayake who supplied the tokens to Raja Wickramasinghe.

By the style of the Brahami text on the tokens and some of similer nature which were found in Archaeological digs these lead tokens found in southern lanka are dated to era 2nd Century BCE to 2nd Century CE.

Most are inscribed lead tokens and include the 3 used in the cover illustration of the book published in 1999 by Osmund Bopearachchi and Rajah Wickramasinhe (OBRW) titled Ruhuna An Ancient Civilization Re-visited. Numismatic and Archaeological evidence on inland and Maritime Trade. These Tokens found mainly in Akurugoda are most often unique. Published Weight and Measured Weight had typical 0.05 grams errors in weight.

LakdivaCollection now has Seven (in bold in list below) of the Eleven coins (A21, A37, A20, A17, A11, A25, A19, A12, A5, A3, A26) from OBRW mentioned by Dr P. Pushparatnam in his book Ancient Coins of Sri Lankan Tamil Rulers

Eight of the coins are among the Fourteen coins selected and crudely replicated in lead to match the size and the line drawing in OBRW.

The OBRW images printed in the OBRW Book show hardly any detail. The line drawing appear not to be exact copies but drawn by eye of what was easily visible on coin or coin image. Displayed below are high resolution 600 dpi Scanned images which have been PhotoShoped to increase contrast of details. This PhotoShop operation done identically for all images however made the color of corrosion, more intense than seen on token, but does highlight the coins which may gain from some careful conservation which is not easy for lead coins.

Individual pages with size and weight details for each token is linked from the ID between the coin images.

Please use Browser in wide full screen, so that both sides of coins and comments displayed at 600 dpi are visible.


Obverse OBRW
ID
Reverse Line Drawing and comments
R1
R2
R3
R4
A3
A5
A6
Rev: In addition to anticlockwise fish on top, there is a clockwise tortoise on right, and probably symbols to left and bottom as well not illustrated in OBRW line drawing.
A7
The obverse of coin used on the cover page of OBRW book. Identified as a stylised lion to right, looks like a lizard as the whipped tail extends behind the hind legs at the same size of body before thinning out. The oversize paws and the pointed head looks like that of a Monitor.
A9
A10
Obv: Described in OBRW as a Shark,could this be a Crocodile or a Whale
A13
A14
A17
Both sides of this coin used on the cover page of OBRW book.
A18
A19
A20
A22
Obv: Described in OBRW as a Maneless lion, looks more like a Deer as the legs are long relative to body. The square above is not connected to the short tail.
A23
A26
A27
A30
Obv: Described in OBRW as a dancing Female figure, look like a seated person on stool the legs of which are seen on the right.
A37
Rev: Symbol on top excluded in OBRW line drawing.
A38
The obverse coin used on the cover page of OBRW book.
A39
A40
a41
Not Plate specimen. Shape and Brahami Text different from A41. indicated on coin flap.
a42
Not Plate specimen. Indicated smaller than A42 on coin flap. Shape and Brahami Text different from A42. Weight of 1.185 grams less than published Weight of A42 2.11 grams.
a43
Not Plate specimen. Brahami Text different from A43. Detailed features on fish is incredible. Swastika on side opposite Brahami text.
R5
E11
E12
Obv: Described in OBRW as a lion jumping, looks like a Deer in flight. The pair of hind legs curved up, the short stubby tail, a pointed head with antlers.
E18
E22
E30
F1
Obv: Described in OBRW a lady with Mirror. If rotated 90 degrees right you can almost imagine a couple making love on the ground. But it is not so.
F2
Plate Image of F2 in OBRW and size matches specimen. But Line Drawing and Weight of 2.326 grams does not match published Weight of 3.30 grams.
F4
Obv: Described in OBRW a elephant to right. The ground line with clump of grass show that it a Elephant standing on hind legs with trunk up.
F8
F13
Plate Image of F13 in OBRW and size matches specimen. But Line Drawing and Weight of 4.135 grams does not match published Weight of 2.11 grams.
Obv: Horse running right has hind legs back.
X3 Obv: Sambar with wide antlers
Rev: Brahami around dot at center
X4 Obv: Crown
Rev: Brahami
X6 Obv: RW says Lion but looks more like a Leopard right
Rev: Brahami around dot at center
X8 Obv: RW says Dolphins but looks more like the auspicious symbol Matsa or pair of fish
Rev: Brahami
X9 Obv: Elephant to right facing Tree
Rev: Brahami around circle with flower at center
X18 Obv: Srivatsa with dot at center
Rev: Brahami around dot at center
X21 Obv: Three elephants facing left, forward and right
Rev: Brahami around circle with flower at center


LakdivaCollection was lucky to acquire most from leading collector Lalith Raddella in 2016 May. They had been sold to him independently before the remaining collection of Raja Wickramasinghe was sold in 2010.

This collection of 42 consisted of

  • 29 positively identified by weight and images as Plate Specimens of OBRW.
  • 2 positively identified by image as Plate Specimens, but had the wrong weight published in OBRW.
  • 4 misidentified with similar Plate Specimens,
  • 7 more unlisted lead tokens with RajaW's handwritten comments on 2x2 coin flaps.

    Excluded above are two copper lion and svastika coins (E5. E9) and 2 lead beads (M2, M5) which don't belong to this group. Included are 3 lead tokens (A26, E22, E30) I had purchased from Raja Wickramasinghe in 2000 August and 5 lead tokens (R1-R5), I obtained in the early 2000's directly from Mr Ratnayake who had supplied tokens to Raja Wickramasinghe.

    The two large inscribed Lion and Swastika coins E5 and e9 are not lead as published in OBRW, in mostly copper as indicated by green color of corrosion. They are extreamly rare, particularly in this large size.