Many of the attributions below have been revised in A HISTORY AND COIANGE OF SOUTH EAST ASIA until the 15th c.by Dr. M. Mitchiner. I have not had time to incorporate new information, but coins shown are available in stock.
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COINS OF HINDU SOUTHEAST ASIA 450-800 AD
We are only beginning to make sense of the early indigenous mainland Southeast Asian coin series. The prototype issue, a silver Conch/Temple piece of ±9.5g, probably originated ca. 450 AD in Pegu (southern Burma), its symbolism clearly derived from south Indian coinage. It served as model for several later series with ±9.5g units, including that of Dvaravati, the first series minted entirely in what is now Thailand. Wicks notes findspots in central Thailand for all types below. Coinage in the region died with the conquest of Dvaravati and the Pyu of Burma ca 800 AD, to be revived only some 500 years later by the more exotic "coinage" of the Thai of Lannathai and Sukothai. As there have been many discoveries since Mitchiner's Non-Islamic (M) was published, I have listed this series by Wicks' article "Ancient Coinage from Thailand and Burma" This was to be published in expanded book form under the same title, but as of 10/01 I have not been able to learn whether this will happen. I have modified Wicks' basic listing to include varieties and fractionals. Also useful for fractionals is Mitchiner's "Four More Hoards of Early South-east Asian Symbolic Coins" (abbreviated "M4M") Num. Chron v.148, 1988.
Mons of Pegu (Southern Burma) ca.450? AD W1 Silver Unit (±9-10g, 23-25m, .997 fine) Conch & circle of beads, R: "Srivatsa" Temple, ankus? inside, pellets (hollow or solid) below, moon (crescent), circle-sun, or rayed-sun variously rt. or l. above. Prototype for entire "symbolic" series. None in stock.
Pyus of Sriksetra (Central Burma)
VF or better, but coated with black tar (from saltwater immersion) 95.00
1/100? Unit Throne, R: Temple, simple designs 10m, .12g (2 varieties $30) M2629 crude VF 17.50
Similar, Throne (smaller), uniface Vg $4 SOLD; crude VF 17.50 SOLD
1/250? Unit Cross or flower petal: perhaps a degenerate Temple? Avg. .03g, 7m. Tiny coin! Unpublished. VF 15.00
- 1/25? Unit Temple (as W26), R: Ankus. Average .31g for 10 pcs, though rough flans indicate metal loss, so could be 1/25 of a Pegu Unit "MB2586" M4M pl.40 #7. Mitchiner SEAsia #531 Ankus side always weak, crude flans Vg-F 50.00
THE MARITIME EMPIRES (Beads and Beanlike coins)
Long before the Thai moved southward from their original home in China, the lucrative sea trade between the South China Sea and the Bay of Bengal created powerful maritime empires such as Sailendra-Srivijaya and Majopahit, which controlled coastal areas of modern Indonesia, Burma, Malaya, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. In an era before coined money was widely used, Indo-Pacific beads were made first at a site called Aakmidu in South India ca. 200 BC. The manufacture then moved in sequence to Ceylon, South Thailand, Java and finally Malaya. By about 1200-1300 AD the larger Majopahit beads, excavated today in the interior of Java, had supplanted it. Since these factory sites have been dated, archaeologists now use the beads to date sites, though whether beads rose to the level of metals, salt, cloth, and cowries as "standard" trade goods is uncertain.
The first indigenous metallic coinage in the region, ca. 750-850 AD, comes from the Javanese kingdom of Sailendra (Chinese: Ho-ling). These roughly dome-shaped silver of irregular weight bore stamps of a flowing vase, and the sandalwood flower (quatefoil). By 850 AD weights had been standardized at 20 rattis to a Massa of about 2.4 grams. Silver and gold coins of Massa and fractional denominations were issued until about 1300 AD, with changes in shape and quality of inscription marking periods of issue. The gold Piloncitos of the Philippines are a late offshoot of the gold coinage, while the beanlike silver "namo" series, of the Malay isthmus was presumably an offshoot of the silver and may have evolved into the bullet (pod-duang) coinage of Sukothai. I have referenced the coinage to Wicks' Money, Markets, and Trade in Early Southeast Asia (WM) because of his attention to shape in the evolution of the coinage, although the relationship of gold to silver coinage is better demonstrated in Mitchiner's later work The History and Coinage of South East Asia until the 15th Century which is cross-referenced along with Millies' 1871 work.
1030 Indo-Pacific Beads, ca. 1200AD The major trade bead of the Srivijaya and Majopahit Empires, it still serves as a store of wealth in Timor, Flores & Sumba, called Mutisalah ("False pearls"). Used by archaeologists to date sites throughout S.E. Asia. Strand (27cm looped) of small (2-3mm) brick-red clay, about 225 beads/strand. Rough & irregular shape. 18.50
WM8.3a Sailendra: Early Period c. 800-950 AD SILVER Massa Sandalwood Flower incuse, R: Nagari Ma for Massa Flan flat, thick& irregular 2.25-2.4gm, 10m Wiicks (p.249) Class D, M724-725, Millies 13-19 Vg 20.00
WM8.3b 1/2 Massa, .97-1.09gm, 7-8m Scarce. Vg-F 25.00 SOLD
WM8.3c 1/4 Massa, .43-.61gm = Kupang Vg 16.50
WM8.3d 1/8 Massa, .28-.35gm SOLD
WM8.3L Massa, low weight (1.39-1.84gm) & porous, possibly contemporary counterfeits, or a regional issue. Vg-F 17.50
W100-102 GOLD Massa, 1/2, and 1/4, sometimes called 24, 12, and 6 Krisnalas. The early, fine-style series with clear Devnagari Ja or Ta (Wicks Class A) and incuse Lingham reverse belongs with this period, according to Mitchiner (#722-23) Not too scarce, but none presently in stock.
WM8.4a Middle Period c. 950-1150 AD SILVER Massa Sandalwood Flower incuse, R: Nagari Ma Flan concave, thinner, broader & rounded; Ma cruder about 2.07-2.54 gm, 13-14m Wiicks (p.255) Class E, M730-731, Millies 21-22 VF 22.50
WM8.4b 1/2 Massa, .82-1.08gm, 9-11m broader than early period and slightly dished Scarce. Vg-F 25.00
WM8.4c 1/4 Massa, ..47-.56gm, 7.5-8.5m broader than early period and slightly dished Scarce. F-VF 25.00
W106-112 GOLD Massa, 1/2, and 1/4, Mitchiner (#726-729) does not distinguish varieties within this period, while Wicks (p.289) makes a useful distinction between rounded ("conelike") pieces of good style with crescents reverse (Class D), and pieces with "parallel plier marks or grooves" reverse which he does not otherwise distinguish from Class A pieces (Class C). From their style, I would place the Class C pieces after D. Neither series is particularly scarce, and the 1/4 Massa of Class D fairly common. However, due to the deteriorated style, they are less popular with collectors.
WM8.5a Late Period c. 1150-1300 AD SILVER Massa Sandalwood Flower incuse, R: Nagari Ma Subtly different from middle period with flans rounder, generally smaller with incuse panel smaller. Wicks refers to a "bubbly surface" but the main distinguishing feature I see is the darker color, reflecting debasement. about 1.72-2.43 gm, 12.5-13m Wiicks (p.255) Class F, M734-738, Millies 21-22 Selected from a large group, actually better but crude execution of Ma makes them look worn: Vg-F 13.50
WM8.5b 1/2 Massa, .91-1.07gm crude Vg-F 14.50; crude F-VF 19.50
WM8.5c 1/4 Massa, .37-69gm crude F-VF 18.50
WM8.5x Copper Massa, 1.35-2.15gm, not even a pretense of silvering, so I am not sure whether these are very late issues or contemporary counterfeits Vg 10.00
Q001 Gold Plaque This object is 12.55gm, 40x21m with a crude Sandalwood flower stamped four times. The edges are rough with several shallow test cuts, also rough. My guess is that it is a concoction of recent making, but I am seeking information. NOT FOR SALE
INTERRUPTED (DUMBBELL) RINGS (Kelok)
Mitchiner South East Asia (1998, p.28+) presents examples from South India through Japan, including several in lead from South East Asia, and two moulds. He notes a find site of Sawankhalok, Thailand, which was known to have extensive trade with Majapahit. The lot of 80 pieces offered below come from Java, core of the old Majapahit Empire, where they are called kelok meaning curved, and referred to as money. Wicks MM&T (1992, p.167) quotes Wolters, "For trade dealings in clothing and food Gulf of Thailand c. 1200 AD."
I sorted these visually, then by weight, and found an apparent denominational system of about 100gm and fractionals. The amount of variation around this standard suggests a token coinage rather than use as weights, or metal value. The general form is broken ring with thin top and bulbous ends, often with a ridge at the top of each end. Sprues and exterior ridge from casting sometimes present. Scans show sample pieces.
925b Lead/Tin rings Large size (1/2 Unit?), 46-61.5g, 34-37m 37.50
925c - 19 - 35g, 24 - 35m 23.50
925d - 9.5 - 14g, 18 - 25m 15.00
925e - 5.3 - 8g, 16 - 20m 11.00
925f - 1.7 - 3.9g, 13 - 17m 8.50
926c Copper rings More conventional ring shape, though ends tend to be bulbous. Metal generally reddish, though probably alloyed. My breakdown is somewhat arbitrary, and the denominational standard, if any, unclear. 14 - 25g, 32 - 37m 20.00
926d - 6 - 11g, 29 - 37m 15.00
927d Variant rings-1 Copper, shape much as the Lead type (925) c) 25.63g, 24m across, once gilded, traces show in interior. NFS; d) 10.53, 8.73g, 20 - 21m $25.00 SOLD
928de Variant rings-2 Bronze or possibly brass, conventional ring shape except ends are broad and squared d) 10.15g, 18m $25.00 SOLD e) 6.92, 5.63, 5.61, 404g, 16 - 18m $17.50
929e Variant rings-3 Bronze or possibly brass, thick and compact, smallest piece with bulbous ends, largest with neater interior 7.19, 6.23, 4.77g, 15 - 18m $25.00 SOLD
SOME RECENT FORGERIES
A contact in Bangkok reports that more than 20 types of gold and 30 types of silver fantasies have turned up in Bangkok, and new types appear weekly. Here are some typical examples:
Recumbant Bull / Standing Garuda to left
Sankh Shell / "Vase with flowers"
Ebay seller "thaigemscoins" offers these and other fake Thai items.
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