Century 3rd BC to 1st AD - Lanka

Anuradhapura - Elephant and Svastika

The circular Elephant and Svastika coins were mainly found at the Abhayagiri Dagoba in Anuradhapura. It is the Classic and largest of the ancient coins which is uniquely from Lanka. It is the equivalent of the Greek Athenian Owl tetradrachm for Lankan Numismatics. These coins found in Anuradhapura are thin and Struck with fine detail. Recent finds at Akurugoda near Tissmaharama in south west Lanka. thick and rough cast coins.

SPECIFICATIONS
AlloyCopper
TypeStruck
Diameter29.8 mm
Thickness1.9 mm
Weight (avg)15.7 gms
Weight7.7 gms
Shapeoval:0.93
DieAxis
elephant_Svastika_struck_obverse elephant_Svastika_struck_reverse
Obverse : Elephant walking to the left with trunk extended and tail ending in a triple fork (not visible). Above are four symbols
AJust above ElephantThe life symbol -|<|
BOn Top The Svastika revolving right (partly visible) mounted on a staff and surrounded by a railing indicated by four vertical lines rising from a horizontal line.
COn upper leftTree with three-Branches (not visible) each ending in a triple fork in a enclosure, divided into four compartments by a vertical and a horizontal line.
DOn upper rightChitaya of three small cells, the two bottom ones are contiguous (off flan).
COn lower rightInverted Tree with three-Branches each ending in a triple fork in a enclosure, divided into four compartments by a vertical and a horizontal line.
Reverse : four symbols arranged
AOn Top The railed Svastika revolving right.
BBelowThe usual Chitaya of three arches is NOT seen beneath a horizontal line. A number other distinct symbols with loops including a Ankusa(Elephant Goad).
CTo left Nandipada symbol.
DTo rightThe hour glass-like symbol i.e. O0E tilted, with triple-dot symbols on either end.

This coin at 7.7 grams is just under Half the weight of the average weight of 15.7 grams measured by John Still in 1907 for 20 Elephant and Svastika coins and well outside his range [12.7 to 17.8] grams. Codrington lists a few worn coins about 9.7 grams. Bopearachchi and Wickremasinhe in their Ruhuna collection publish a similar half weight Elephant and Svastika coin (H.7) of 6.8 grams.

All of the Elephant and Svastika coins illustrated in Parker; Codrington; Mitchiner; Seyone; Bopearachchi and Wickremesinhe have a prominant triple arch Chitaya symbol under the railed Svastika on reverse. I kind of remember seening one like this in the Colombo Museum and I would need to check the next time I am in Lanka.

Rajah Wickremasinhe in a private communication informs me that cast coins have been found without the Chitaya on the reverse and that it is probably off flan on the obverse of this coin. He also stated that a light weight coin with an ankusa is known, though not listed by Codrington or Still, nor in Ruhuna.

Brig. Munesinghe president of the Sri Lanka Numismatic Society said this a rare coin to have two tree symbols and odd looking Chaitiya in the rear. This coin is speculated (RAS Magazine ?) to be a commerative coin issued for Arahat Mahindas.. I have requested more information.

A double outer ring on this coin with small symbols between them is interesting since it reminds me of the outer ring of the sakwala chakraya which is also from the same Era of these coins.

The Chitaya symbol is also visible on this lot of 5-lower-grade E&S coins. The best coins of that lot had been sold when I found them with an Internet coin dealer in US, and I decided to wait for a better specimen.

This image of coin from the Ebay listing appears to have been scanned at 240?dpi and is displayed at 200dpi. To be replaced with better scan. It was purchased in 2001 May on ebay from a US dealer who said his father who passed away in 1978 may have purchsed it from Scott Semens. Scott informs me that the Prudhomme collection he helped build has an E&S of 8.96gm for the nicer style piece, 12.46gm for the cruder one.