Mediaeval Gold Adakahavanu

Two adakahavanu of great rarity, Nos. 25 and 30 in Catalogue. No. 25 and the one in the Colombo Museum are the only ones known to me at present. No. 30 is the only one extant in the country. Enlarged 1 x 2; the actual diameter is 18 mm. Mr. Codrington seemed to believe that the letters of the legend in two lines in the Nagari script on the reverse of the coin closely resemble those of the Jetavanarama slab inscription (Epigraphia Zeylanica Vol. 1 No. 1) which has been assigned to the first half of the ninth century.

First ever coin in the Mediaeval numismatic history of the world in which the name of the country where it was struck is indicated Legend Sri Lanka (K.)

legend: Sri Lanka ka; the terminal smaller ka of the legend defies definition.

period: early ninth century.

provenance: Anuradhapura

The earliest example of this coin, recovered from excavations of the structural period G2 of the Citadel of Anuradhapura may be dated back to the 1st century B.C.

Obverse: A graceful representation of Lakshmi, in abhisheka.

Reverse: Railed svastika, a pre-Christian symbol; seems to be peculiar to Sri Lanka.

In contrast to the obverse being a graceful representation of Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, in the ancient Lakshmi and Svastika coin; there is a dismally degraded representation of Kuvera, the god of wealth, in the mediaeval gold coin. Evidently the mediaeval die cutter must have been already familiar with the name of Kuvera as meaning ‘one with a deformed body’.

Mr Sirisena’s work Mediaeval Gold Coins of Sri Lanka (700-1100) although at first blush may seem a little research monograph, nevertheless is great reading, which indeed carries the reader back in retrospect to a stunning gold coinage, on which an unprecedented prosperity of the country resulting from an opulent international commerce had at one time been dependent.

His presentation of the subject matter is so lucid and comprehensive that it seems to have virtually exhausted the subject.

I would unhesitatingly commend this publication not only to the serious collector of ancient and mediaeval coins of Sri Lanka, but also to the research student who is making the study of Sri Lanka numismatics his speciality. Needless to say, the monograph should in time doubtless become a collector’s item.

I wish the author strength and success in all his future endeavours in the field of Sri Lanka numismatics.
Dr. Lakmal Seneviratne
Professor in Mechatronics
Department of Mechanical Engineering
King’s College London.