Lanka - 17th Century - Kandy

Sinhala Silver Panama

Fanams of Gold and Silver remained in circulation in the Kandyan kingdom for many years after the Dutch occupation of the coast.

DenominationOne Fanam
Diameter8. mm
Thickness mm
Weight0.363 gms
panama_ag_obverse panama_ag_reverse

The design is that of the Malabar Vira raya fanam.
Obverse : An oval placed vertically and open at the top, with one dot inside and another outside to the left ; below this are two curved lines springing upwards and then curving downwards from two dots, with two rows of dots in the space so formed. It is derived from the massa standing figure, the open oval being the head and body, and the curved lines the outline of the legs and dhoti
Reverse : A thin horizontal line, bent upwards on the left, having two dots about the middle, from which rise two vertical lines ; below are three rows of dots, each of four. It may be the last stage of corruption of the sitting figure or perhaps of Nagari letters.

The `Sinhala panama', struk by the king. The metal is silver, often very base; a few show a slight admixture of gold, from which it may be inferred that this coin has been gradually debased from an original metal of the Kotte gold fanam of 1554.

Robert Knox in Lanka between 1659-1679 write in
Historical Relation of Ceylon (Pt. III, Chap VIII)
"The third sort of money is the King's proper Coin. For none upon the pain of Death may coin it. It is called a Ponnam. It is as small as a Spangle: Seventy five make a piece of Eight, or a Spanish Dollar."

Text from
* Ceylon Coins and Currency By H. W. Codrington. Colombo 1924
  Page 173-174 Chapter XIV Kandyan - Plate 168.

The coin was scanned at 300dpi and the images are displayed at 300dpi.
The almost uncirculated coin was purchased in June 1998 from a antique shop in Kandy.