RajaRaja Chola : 985 - 1014
Copper massa coins

Six different copper massa of selected from the statistically analysed sample of 100 coins of RajaRaja Chola (985-1014) of Thanjavur in TamilNadu. Most of the coins of the lot were of Indian Type with the four balls with a dot in center and cresent above on the right hand side of the standing king. One was of Lanka type with solid ball is probably from the period of Chola occupation of Lanka.

Obverse : Standing king with head to right. Holds an item in left hand which is bent and held up to his face. The right hand is extended outwards and bent downwards over the temple lamp on left to high alter. A group of four spheres on right, surmounted by crescent.
Reverse : Seated king on left facing right holds a conch shell in left hand which is bent and held up to his face. The right hand is extended outwards and bent downwards over knee. Legend beneath on right in 3 lines. Sri Raja Raja in Devanagari script
SPECIFICATIONS
DenominationOne massa
AlloyCopper
TypeStruck
Diameter19.7 mm
Thickness2.6 mm
Weight4.22 gms
ShapeRound
EdgePlain
DieAxis60°
rajaraja_chola_1_obverse rajaraja_chola_1_reverse
Mitchiner #733

On obverse Jasmine flower in left hand, alter visible, spheres with dots,
On reverse Ra below Ja.

DenominationOne massa
AlloyCopper
TypeStruck
Diameter19.7 mm
Thickness2.0 mm
Weight3.69 gms
ShapeRound
EdgePlain
DieAxis-120°
rajaraja_chola_2_obverse rajaraja_chola_2_reverse
Mitchiner #738

On obverse Jasmine bud in left hand, fish facing up hanging from right hand rather than alter, filled spheres,
On reverse Ra level with Ja.

 

 

 

 

DenominationOne massa
AlloyCopper
TypeStruck
Diameter18.0 mm
Thickness2.6 mm
Weight4.17 gms
ShapeRound
EdgePlain
DieAxis-30°
rajaraja_chola_3_obverse rajaraja_chola_3_reverse
Mitchiner #732

On obverse Sphere with dot in left hand, spheres with dots,
On reverse Ra lot below Ja.

DenominationOne massa
AlloyCopper
TypeStruck
Diameter17.9 mm
Thickness2.8 mm
Weight4.58 gms
ShapeRound
EdgePlain
DieAxis60°
rajaraja_chola_4_obverse rajaraja_chola_4_reverse
Mitchiner #734?

On obverse five petal flower or banana in left hand, spheres with dots,
With the two fingers of hand appearing as legs it look like a stick human. Could this be a medieval die-cutter's hidden expression of oppression by an evil Raja On reverse Ra below Ja.

DenominationOne massa
AlloyCopper
TypeStruck
Diameter15.9 mm
Thickness2.9 mm
Weight3.82 gms
ShapeRound
EdgePlain
DieAxis150°
rajaraja_chola_5_obverse rajaraja_chola_5_reverse
Mitchiner #736

On obverse Sun and Moon symbol in left hand, spheres with dots, lamp off flan
On reverse Ra lot below Ja, appears to be double struck.

DenominationOne massa
AlloyCopper
TypeStruck
Diameter15.7 mm
Thickness3.0 mm
Weight3.72 gms
ShapeRound
EdgePlain
DieAxis
rajaraja_chola_6_obverse rajaraja_chola_6_reverse
Mitchiner #735?

On obverse filled sphere in left hand, spheres with dots,
On reverse Ra below Ja.

Each of the coins illustrated above are different varieties of the same basic design, which was later copied by the traditional Lanka type massa.
Except the second from top have text Ra below Ja which was used by Mitchiner. It seems more natural to classify using the item in left hand on the obverse as is used to classify gold kahavanu found in Lanka.

For 30 of the coins the variety based on what is held in the hand was indeterminate, From the remaing 70 coins in which the item held up to face on obverse was visible within the struck flan, 67 was of Jasmine flower type with a dot visible in center of sphere in 19 of the higher grade coins among them. In lower grade/cruder diecut coins the same symbol appeares as a filled sphere or ball. I found only one clear example each of varieties with the interesting five petal flower and with Sun and Moon symbol.

Rajaraja Chola (985-1014) invaded Lanka in 990 AD and conquered the northern half. Lanka regained independence from Chola occupation in 1070 under Vijaya-bahu (1055-1110).

The massa coin was scanned at 600 dpi and displayed at 300 dpi and were selected from a lot of 100 purchased in 2003 October from a dealer in USA, who got them from a source in India.

Text edited from
* Coins of the Cholas: C. H. Biddulph, NSI #13, 1966.
* Oriental Coins: Michael Mitchiner, London, Hawkins Publications, 1978.