Lanka : 8-9th Century
Gold Type I Kahavanu - Adahanda

The anonymous gold Type I Kahavanu - Adahanda from 8-9th Century Lanka. This over-weight Specimen with a higher than expected Cu/Ag ratio which was purchased in 1993 from Spink of London, is probably a modern forgery. Codrington unlisted

DenominationOne Kahavanu
MetalGold 0.60
AlloyCu/Ag = 1.04
Diameter19.2 mm
Thickness2.8 mm
Weight Std.4.54 gms
Weight5.0 gms
k1cf4t10c_adahanda_au_obverse k1cf4t10c_adahanda_au_reverse
Codrington unlisted ; OMRS-21
Obverse : A Standing figure Mavra, head somewhat circular to right, with Nose, mouth and eye shown; crown, a semicircular line behind head with slight bifurcation at top, and a small horizontal line below; behind it similer but shorter line ending in a dot ; in rear a dot. The left arm is bent in to breast ; elbow outwards ; nothing in hand. In a dhoti (garment), indicated by the curved line on either side of, and two lines between the legs, and standing on a lotus plant stalk consists of dots, ending left in chank, right in five-leaved flower. The right arm is extended with hand over symbol 1 (a) consisting of a straight shaft with short cross pieces, ending in four prongs, which are narrow and curve downward. The elbow is over a similer symbol (2) but with plain shank and upside down. To right symbol 1 (a) tilted to left; above this, a crescent and below, four annulet with dot in the center (Target). A beaded circle along the periphery of the coin.
Reverse : A figure Bahirava, head right, crown, a curved line with dot attached to upper outer edge; behind a short line ending in a dot at bottom; in rear a dot; squatting upon a asana (bed-like throne), represented by a rectangular frame divided lengthwise by a line and crosswise by four lines (Ten compartments); in dhoti has two long lines between legs, the two ends at the waist appearing at either side of the body. The right arm is pendent over the right knee, which is drawn up; the left arm is bent, and holds a cresent drawn as two arcs (adahanda). Anusvara under arm. In field to right, Nagari legend in three lines.
12 34 5
Vibhu is a title of Vishnu.
A beaded circle along the periphery of coin.

The Kahavanu was scanned at 600dpi and displayed at 300dpi. It was purchased in July 1993 from Spink & Sons Ltd, at ANA coin show in Baltimore, USA.

In 1993, I was surprised to find Medieval Gold coins from Lanka on sale at a coin show held in Baltimore, USA, where I was working. It motivated me to resume this collection after 25-years.

Not knowing much about these gold coins at that time, when I questioned if the coin was genuine, the dealer replied with their authority as Spink of London. However this coin is over 10% heavier than expected weight, and much heavier than any published Medieval Lankan Gold Kahavanu. XRF measurements in 2015 August showed it also has less silver than copper, which is not typical of other Type I and Type II gold coins which normally have 3 to 5 times more Silver than copper. These factors indicate, it is probably a coin made for collectors in 20th century.

A Comment was made 1907 John Still's paper in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Ceylon Branch, Vol 19 #58 161-216. On page 164 he puts a footnote to the word "genuine" I quote " How rare genuine specimens are I am inclined to think very few people thoroughly recognize. Gold "Lankesvaras" and "Vijaya Bahus' are turned out wholesale in Kandy now, and are so skillfully done that most of them are duly absorbed into collections. The improved manufacture of late is marked"

I also find it curious that this is the only Full kahavany coin type that I have which is not listed in Codrington's Coins and Currency of Ceylon. It would be interesting to XRF study other specimens of same type in other collections.

So the coin I used for 18 years as a logo for this website has lost it's charm. It reflects that even leading Numismatic firms probably do not have the expertise you assume they do, on ancient coins they rarely handle on a regular basis. When collecting such coins, one needs to read the literature, do your own research and become your own expert.