KUSHAN DYNASTY iv. Coinage of the Kushans



iv. Coinage of the Kushans

The notion of a Kushan Dynasty or of a Kushan Period is entirely that of modern historians. Although the term Kushan is known in ancient sources, it is often used to refer to a dynasty other than the one designated by modern historians. Chinese chronicles employed the term Yuezhi, and at least one Indian source (Pargiter, 1913, p. 72) likely designated the dynasty we are discussing as muruṇḍa. Even the term Kushan as it appears on coins—koshano in Bactrian—is absent on the coins of two kings of the dynasty, while it is employed liberally among their contemporaries, the Kushano-Sasanian, or Kushanshah, kings and the Kidarites. In addition, many 3rd-century and later sources use the term to describe the region of Bactria.

That the thirteen kings of the dynasty—Kujula Kadphises, Wima Takto, Wima Kadphises, Kanishka I, Huvishka, Vasudeva I, Kanishka II, Vasishka, Kanishka III, Vasudeva II, Shaka, and Kipunadha—are viewed as a discrete entity distinct from the Kushanshahs in Bactria, the Kidarites, and the usurper Maśra, is largely a function of the relationship between numismatic and epigraphic studies.

The cohesion of the group rests on establishing either that the coins were issued successively, in most cases from the same mints, or that the kings named are related to each other by epigraphic evidence. Today, modern constructs include thirteen kings who ruled from the mid-1st century until the late fourth, although exact details can vary (cf. KUSHAN DYNASTY i, ii, and iii). In the late 19th century when Alexander Cunningham wrote the first account of Kushan coinage (1892), he included only five kings: Kujula Kadphises, Wima Kadphises, Kanishka, Huvishka, and Vasudeva. Some coins of Kujula and those of his son Wima Takto were classified instead as Saka (Cunningham, 1891, pl. XII/IX). All of Vasudeva’s successors were excluded, even though Cunningham was able to correctly classify the coins as part of the same series the year before (Cunningham, 1890).

As the first detailed account of Kushan coinage (see Cribb, 2007, for earlier historiography), Cunningham’s list of names was influential. Coinage issued under Wima Taktu, known as the ‘Soter Megas’ types, was only integrated in the coin sequence in the 1960s (MacDowall, 1968) and only widely acknowledged as the issues of a member of the dynasty, rather than a subordinate or vassal, with the publication of the Rabatak inscription (Cribb, 1996). The seventh to ninth kings— Kanishka II, Vasishka, Kanishka III—whose coins were correctly identified by Cunningham, were usually excluded from accounts of the dynasty until the ordering of late Kushan inscriptions was substantially revised following studies by Lohuizen van Leeuw and John Rosenfield (see KUSHAN DYNASTY ii. INSCRIPTIONS). The final kings are still absent in many accounts, because the attribution of their coinage and the identification of Shaka in a Gupta-period inscription were made only recently (Cribb, 1999, p.187).

The coins issued under these kings are presented below in chronological order. The gradual visual evolution of the designs should make the numismatic connection apparent, and epigraphic relations will be referred to where significant.

The understanding of Kushan coinage changed dramatically in 1984 with the publication of Robert Göbl’s System und Chronologie der Münzpgrägung des Kušanreiches (henceforth MK). Where possible, type numbers for this publication will be included in the description of coins. Göbl’s catalogue compiled for the first time a comprehensive corpus of known examples of Kushan coins from the reign of Wima Kadphises onwards. However, the volume is not complete: firstly, it focused primarily on the gold coinage; secondly, a small number of attributions have since been challenged; and thirdly, the chronology is now widely rejected. As it omits the first two kings (under whom no gold was issued), MK is partly supplemented and corrected by Göbl’s publication (1993) of the collection in Bern, Switzerland.

The works of Michael Mitchiner (1976, 1978) are also often used as general references, particularly for the coinage before Wima Kadphises (1976). Some major studies on particular coinages, such as the Bactrian issues of Kujula known as the Heraios Sanab type (Cribb, 1993), the coinage of Wima Takto (Cribb, 1996), or the copper coinage of the Kushans after Vasudeva (Khan, 2010), also supplement MK. The recent publication of the American Numismatic Society [ANS] (Jongeward et al., 2015) is the most up to date and accessible account of types and attributions, although it is, of course, limited only to those examples which appear in the ANS collection.

The first Kushan king, Kujula Kadphises, ruled in the mid- to late 1st century. The coinage issued under him is diverse and issued from a number of different regions. The denominations and types usually follow the denominations and types already in use in each region (Figures 1-3, 6-7). For example, the types issued in different parts of Bactria (Figures 1-2) use only Greek script, and in size and weight come close to the 16 g tetradrachms of the late Bactrian Greek kings, while the types issued in Kashmir (Figure 7) feature an animal on each side (bull and camel) and a bilingual inscription like the Scythian satrapal coinage (which used a lion and bull) that preceded them. Most of these coinages, but not those in Bactria, also use some variation on the name of the king, and some include the term Kushan, possibly here a name or title for Kujula.

This variety in designs probably reflects the process by which the different regions were incorporated into Kujula’s empire. Chinese chronicles indicate that Kujula was initially only one of the Yuezhi chiefs who ruled in Bactria and that it was through a series of campaigns that he conquered the other Yuezhi kingdoms and then to the south, Begram, Gandhāra, Kashmir, and Sind. As each new territory was incorporated, Mathura in India being conquered by his son Wima, the local mints simply issued coins based on the existing types in that region.

There is evidence that this regional arrangement was unsatisfactory. The mint at Taxila issued several new types in what seems to have been an unsuccessful attempt to stabilize a coinage that continually reduced in weight (Figures 3-5). The cause of this problem is unclear, but the pre-Kushan rulers had debased the silver coinage once issued in the area, and the events may be related. One solution to the problem seems to have been the increasing centralization of design and production.

Early in the reign of Wima Takto (90-113 CE), or perhaps late in the reign of Kujula, a type conventionally known to numismatists as the ‘Soter Megas’ coinage was introduced (Figures 8-10). It featured only the king’s titles and no name. The anonymity of this coinage has led to much speculation, but its significance is over- stated: anonymous coinage had already formed part of Kushan issues in Bactria (Figures 1-2), and, in any case, most users of coins would not have been able to read the new coins. While the empire was linguistically diverse, the coins employed only two languages, Greek and Gandhari (written in the Kharoshthi script).

The tendency towards centralization of design and production seems to have continued haphazardly under Wima Takto (Figure 11) but was particularly marked in the reign of Wima Kadphises (113-127 CE). Wima Kadphises copper coinage, MK 760-64 (Figures 12-13) is remarkably uniform. The few variations in inscription seem to mark time, rather than space (Perkins, 2007). Either the central administration was able to enforce a strict uniformity of design, perhaps by distributing dies, or all mints except that at Begram were closed during this reign. Certainly the reign of Wima Kadphises marks a profound change in the production of copper coinage. The mint at Begram, which made all, or at least most, of these coins, would become the dominant mint in the production of copper. Even when it was not the sole mint under later kings, the bulk of copper coinage was still made at Begram.

Wima’s reign also marked the introduction of gold coinage, MK 1-19 (Figure 14). As a detailed study has shown (Bracey, 2009), this was initially a prestige issue too small to serve any economic purpose and produced at discrete moments. Only with the end of Wima’s reign, MK 18-19, did a mint begin to produce a regular coinage (Figure 15). Despite the centralization of copper production at Begram, the gold coinage was not issued from the same place, and when it became a regular coinage, it seems to have been made in the city of Balkh. However central control is still apparent here, as after an initial experiment the engravers of the gold dies copied their designs from those of the copper mint at Begram.

Through their linguistic choices and types, the coins indicate much about the self-perception and geographical location of Kushan power. The image of the god Wesho (Cribb, 1997) on the reverse draws on artistic representations of the northwest, particularly Gandhara, disregarding prototypes in the empire’s southern realms, such as the artistic center of Mathura. Gandhara is also the region in which the Kharoshthi script, as used on the reverse, dominated. Greek was gradually falling out of use as an administrative script but had been employed in the northern regions of Gandhara and Bactria, and its continued use on coins into the early part of the next reign represents both the relative political dominance of the north of the empire over the south and a conservative tendency in coin design.

The production of a bimetallic copper and gold coinage established by Wima Kadphises was followed by his successors. The coins of Kanishka I (127-150 CE), Huvishka (150-190 CE), and Vasudeva (190-230 CE) use a wide variety of types but retain the gold dinar/stater of about 8 g and a copper tetradrachm, initially of about 16 g, as the two principle denominations. The use of the term “dinar” for a gold coinage in India (though it is a Roman silver denomination) and tetradrachm for a 16 g copper coin (though the Attic tetradrachm is a silver coin of a little over 17 g) can seem confusing. For contemporaries, coinage terminology would often be stable for decades or centuries, but for the modern numismatist encompassing much larger periods and times, the malleability of these terms is very apparent.

During the 2nd century there were three important developments in Kushan coinage.

Firstly, the coins largely abandoned the bilingual format of Greek and Kharoshthi in favor of employing only the Greek script to write inscriptions in Bactrian. Two minor copper mints that were opened in Kanishka’s reign in Gandhara and Kashmir still made occasional use of Kharoshthi. The Gandharan mint employed Kharoshthi early in the reign of Huvishka (Errington and Cribb, 1992, no. 97) and the Kashmir mint through the reigns of Kanishka and Huvishka, MK 798-819 (Figures 16-17) continued to use it for control marks. These two are the exception, with all other mints adopting only Bactrian after the first year of Kanishka’s reign, between MK 25-28 (Greek) and MK 31-55 (Bactrian) in the gold. The precision with which this moment can be identified depends on the re-cutting of an unused Greek reverse die on which the Greek label Heracles was replaced with the Bactrian Wesho (Cribb, 1997, cf. fig. G1).

The second innovation was the introduction of a variety of gods on the reverse of the coins. Throughout the reigns of Kanishka I and Huviska, and probably in the first year of Vasudeva I’s reign, the mint employed more than twenty deities, although a small group of about half a dozen dominate—Ardochsho, Mao, Miiro, Nana, Wesho (Figures 18-22), with certain others—Oado, Pharro, Shaoreoro (Figure 23-25)—being particularly popular at certain mints or at certain times (Bracey, 2012, table 2). Much has been made of the supposed mixing of Greek, Iranian, and Indian divinities in this set, with Wesho frequently identified as the Hindu god Śiva (Lo Muzio, 1995/6). Explanations have included appeals to a diverse population or syncretic worship (Rosenfield, 1967, e.g., pp. 88 ff.). However the devices are probably more eclectic in their iconography than their theology.

In some recent scholarship it has been argued that the pantheon is Iranian in conception (Grenet, 1984; Bracey, 2012). It would be overstating the case to suggest that all of the gods are drawn from a single, pre-existing Iranian pantheon, or that it is essentially Zoroastrian, but most gods can be connected with Iranian or Zoroastrian equivalents. One exception is the coinage depicting the Buddha, both in copper and gold (Cribb, 2000), late in the reign of the fourth emperor, Kanishka. In copper this depicts both standing images of the current Buddha Sakyamuni and seated images of the future Buddha Maitreya. The latter is an important chronological marker, because the earliest dated sculptures depicting Buddhas also come from Kanishka’s reign. The Buddha coinage is unusual in terms of both its diversity and also its very narrow period of issue. Though its design and production are entirely normal for Kushan coins, and in terms of absolute numbers it forms a very small part of the coinage at the end of the reign of Kanishka, its unusual devices suggest it was made for some specific event or reason.

The third significant change in this period was the reduction in the weight of the copper coinage. From the reign of Wima Kadphises, most copper coinage was struck to a weight of a little over 16 g, with sub-units also known of 2 g, 4 g, 8 g. This is a reduced and debased version of the standard of the Attic tetradrachm introduced in Bactria by Greek kings in the 3rd century BCE. Although a number of standards are known from early Kushan coinage, the bulk of ‘Soter Megas’ types under Wima Takto (Figure 8) and the Heraus silver coins under Kujula (Figure 1), respectively, didrachms and tetradrachms, were also on this standard. Early in the reign of Huvishka, the main mint reduces the weight of its tetradrachm from 16 g down to about 11g (MK 821-22, 824, 835-37, 848 being the first coins of reduced weight). Subunits also cease to be made from this point with a few exceptions, such as at Mathura under Vasudeva, MK 1014 (Figure 26). Different mints show slightly different fluctuations in weight over time, but the general trend from this point (ca. 160 CE) is for copper coinage to fall in weight. This weight reduction does not appear to be driven by any deliberate policy, as other coinages in the 3rd century associated with the Kushans follow the same pattern.

The coinage of Kanishka II (ca. 230-247 CE) and Vasishka (ca. 247-67 CE) mark an end to the variety of types and designs seen in the 2nd century. Only the god Wesho and goddess Ardochsho are shown on coinage. The former is shown standing before a bull and the latter is enthroned (Figures 32-33). As the variety of designs had been used by the mint as a control system, new marks, principally Brahmi characters, begin to appear for this purpose.

The copper coinage continues to reduce in weight (Figure 33) to a standard of about 5 g in this period, with the Bactrian inscription disappearing. At the same time, the gold coinage, which had remained stable throughout the 2nd century, begins to show signs of debasement. Extensive studies have been made of the density (specific gravity) of Kushan gold coins (Cribb and Oddy, 1998 and Bracey and Oddy, 2010). These studies show that the debasement begins in the reign of Kanishka II and continues under Vasishka. It is temporarily reversed by their successors before the gold content falls again rapidly.

The debasements may reflect pressures on gold stocks resulting from increased production. Though the northern province of Bactria is lost to the rising Sasanian empire at the end of the reign of Vasudeva (ca. 230 CE), this does not result in a loss of access to gold supplies. Analysis by other techniques of the trace elements in Kushan gold (Blet-Lamarqand, 2006) indicates that the source of the gold was unchanged throughout the length of the dynasty (Bracey, 2011, pp. 491-94).

Coins in the name of Kanishka III, the son of Vasishka, do not seem to have been issued from mints that made coins in the name of his father. The gold coinage, MK 634-38, has a number of features more normally associated with the Kushanshah coinage, particularly MK 635 (Figure 34), such as diadem ties falling either side of the trident above the altar.  This coinage was not made at the mints used by Vasishka (247-67 CE) and Vasudeva II (ca. 267-300 CE), and Kanishka III was only eleven years old in the year 41 (267 CE), so it seems that his succession was not straightforward and that Vasudeva II seized control of the empire.

The final four kings—Vasudeva II, Mahi, Shaka, and Kipunadha—have had their names, until quite recently, misread as tribes, sub-rulers, or cities. While the approximate sequence and division of the coinage was clear from Cunningham’s (1890) early research, his exclusion of everything after Vasudeva, all unattested by Brahmi and Kharoshthi inscriptions at the time, had a retarding effect on the scholarship. In the 20th century, the discovery of inscriptions naming Kanishka II, Vasishka, and Kanishka III led to their integration in accounts of the dynasty, especially after the work of Göbl (1984).

However, only one of the final four kings is attested by an inscription: Shaka, the twelfth king of the dynasty. Shaka is attested in the Allahabad pillar inscription of the Gupta Emperor Samudra by the line daivaputra-shāhi-shāhānushāhi-śaka-muruṇḍaih, which gives both his name and a correct rendering of Kushan titles (Cribb, 1999, p. 187; Bhandarkar, 1981, pp. 26-29). With these kings, much depends on the Brahmi inscriptions that appear behind the king and are written vertically on gold coins. Until the reigns of Vasishka and Kanishka III, the king’s name appears only in the Bactrian inscription written around the edge of the coin, and Brahmi was used only for control marks. That the Brahmi inscription is a name was only clear after Göbl’s study (1984), which showed that the earliest of these coins, MK 569, have both a correctly rendered Bactrian name, Bazodeo (Vasudeva), and the Brahmi, Vasu (Figure 34).

In the last twenty years, as a result of building on that work, the attributions of the late Kushan coinage to particular kings has been possible. The final four kings continue to issue gold coins (Figures 35, 38-40) from two different mints (Jongeward et al., 2015; cf. Gobl, 1993) and a copper coinage (Khan 2010) of diminishing weight (Figures 36-37). The copper coinage does not carry inscriptions naming the king after Vasudeva II and so can only be attributed imprecisely on the basis of its weight standards.

The dating of these kings is uncertain, because it depends on the dating of their coins relative to those of other dynasties. The coinage of Vasudeva II is struck by re-using the coinage of the Kushanshah king Hormizd II (Cribb, 1990). Unfortunately, the dates of the Kushanshah rulers are not firmly fixed (see KUSHANSHAHS), but this suggests that Vasudeva II rules for most of the latter half of the 3rd century. The small size of his successor Mahi’s coinage suggests that Mahi’s rule was short and that Shaka must have succeeded in the late 3rd or early 4th century. The Allahabad pillar inscription of Samudra Gupta mentioned above is not dated but must be later than 319 CE, and this information, combined with a large coinage, suggests a lengthy rule for Shaka into the mid-4th century. The line of Kushan kings ended with Shaka’s successor Kipunadha. Our only clue as to the dates at which the dynasty ceased to ruler are numismatic. One of the two mints that made gold coins for the Kushans stopped (MK 595), and a series of Kidarite coins in the same style replaces them (MK 598 ff.). When this happens, the remaining mint making Kipunadha coins rapidly debases the coins until they have virtually no gold content (Cribb, 2010, table 3c). The dates of the Kidarites are a matter of considerable dispute (see KIDARITES), but this occurred before the issue of coins naming the Kidarite king Kidara, probably in the third quarter of the 4th century.

The long span, large production, and spread of Kushan coinage beyond the borders of the empire meant that it had a substantial impact on other coinages. A complete discussion would require a very length treatment but a number of important or interesting influences can be highlighted.

The first and earliest influences are on the coins known as Sino-Kharoshthi (Figure 44). These were issued in the Tarim basin probably in the reign of Kujula Kadphises (Cribb, 1984 and 1985) and show a mixture of Northwest Indian influences from the Kushan empire and also Chinese influences.

The second group of imitations were issued in northern and eastern India. These are all copies of copper Kushan coins and start in the late second century. The first imitations are issued after the reduction in the weight of official copper coins under Huvishka (151-90 CE). This reduction caused older heavy copper coins to be exported to the Gangetic valley, where there was a shortage of local coinage. As a result hoards of the first three kings are very common in the region (Bidari, 2007, Majumdar and Ahamad, 2010; Sharma, 2012) and local imitation of the widely circulated Kushan types began. This practice of imitation reached as far as Orissa in the east coast of India, where a group of cast coins featuring standing figures like Kushan emperors or gods were issued in the 3rd century (Figure 43). Although not directly related to this flow of copper, the gold coinage of the kingdom of Samatata (Figure 42) in eastern India is also directly based on Kushan types of the period of Kanishka and Huvishka (Mitchiner, 2004, pp. 1240-47).

Thirdly, the largest group of coins influenced by Kushan design are the imitations issued in Bactria starting in the reigns of Kanishka II (ca. 230-247 CE) and Vasishka (ca. 247-67 CE). The normal practice throughout most of the Kushan period was to have two mints producing gold coinage. This was the case under Vasudeva (190-230 CE), but only one of those mints went on to make coins in the name of his successor, Kanishka II. The other mint made a series of imitations of gold Kushan coins (Figures 27-29), which eventually culminates in the coinage of the Kushanshahs.

This coinage is undoubtedly the result of the Sasanian conquest of Bactria under Ardashir (224-42 CE) or Shapur II (242-72 CE). However, it is unclear whether the coins were issued directly by the Sasanians or by the forerunners of the Kushanshah. The gold coinage is distinguishable from Kushan types by a number of control marks (MK 641-700), one of the most common being a triangular mark (MK 688-97). This mark also appears on a series of copper coinage that begins at the same time and continues into the 4th century (MK 1010). These copper coins (Figure 30) have an obverse imitating the coins of Kanishka II and a reverse imitating coins of Vasudeva I. For most of the late 3rd and early 4th centuries, they circulate alongside official Kushan coinage (Khan, 2010, table 4a; Zeĭmal’, 1983) and diminish in weight in the same way.

The fourth imitation is comprised of a relatively rare group of gold coins issued in the name of Maśra in the late 3rd century (Figure 41). The coins imitate the types of Vasudeva II very closely, but the king’s costume is idiosyncratic with a curious tight-fitting cap, a dagger at his waist, and a chakra (solar wheel) standard. These are probably issues of a usurper, but it is possible that, as in the case of Kanishka III, whose coins are not made at the usual mints, they represent some complexity in the dynastic succession.

The fifth and final group are the coins of the Kidarite kings (Cribb, 2010). Kidarite coinage is highly variable in its design, because it follows the local types in each of the regions in which it is issued. In the northern Punjab, where the last Kushan emperor Kipunadha is succeeded by the Kidarites, this results in close copies of Kushan-style gold coinage. The Kidarites are only one of a number of succeeding dynasties that inherit their coin design from the Kushans; the Gupta kings of northern India (Raven, 1994) and the Licchavis of Nepal (Rhodes 1989) also show strong resemblances. As a result, designs originally developed in the 2nd-3rd centuries under the Kushans continue to be used on coins throughout the first millennium in north and northwest India.


(images courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum)

Figure 1. Silver Bactrian ‘Heraus’ type of Kujula Kadphise, mid-late 1st century. (BM 1924,1017.2)

Figure 2. Copper Bactrian Heliocles imitation of Kujula Kadphises, mid-late 1st century. (BM 1890,0404.23)

Figure 3. Copper Taxila issue of Kujula Kadphises of the ‘Heracles’ types issued from Begram and Taxila, 6.41 g, 19 mm, mid-late 1st century. (BM IOC.261)

Figure 4. Copper Taxila issue of Kujula Kadphises of the reformed ‘Roman Emperor’ type, 3.11 g, 18 mm. (BM IOC.264)

Figure 5. Copper Taxila issue of Kujula Kadphises of the reformed ‘seated king’ type, 2.24 g, 15 mm. (BM 1922,0424.3693)

Figure 6. Copper Kujula Kadphises issued from a mint in Pakistan, 4.54 g, 19 mm, (BM 1888,1208.530)

Figure 7. Copper Kashmir issue of Kujula Kadphises of the ‘bull and camel’ type, 10.28 g, 24 mm. (BM 1894,0506.1818)

Figure 8. Copper Begram issue of Wima Takto of the early ‘Soter Megas’ type, 8.58 g, 20 mm. (BM 1981,0322.21)

Figure 9. Copper Bactrian issue of Wima Takto of the ‘Soter Megas’ type, 12.59 g, 24 mm. (BM 1894,0506.762)

Figure 10. Copper Gandharan issue of Wima Takto of the ‘Soter Megas’ type. 9.32 g, 21 mm. (BM 1894,0506.800)

Figure 11. Copper Kashmir issue of Wima Takto of the ‘bull and camel’ type, 4.38 g, 17 mm. (BM 1894,0506.1854)

Figure 12. Copper tetradrachm, Begram mint, of Wima Kadphises (113-127 CE) of monolingual type, MK760, 17.24 g, 26 mm. (BM 1919,0612.2)

Figure 13. Copper tetradrachm, Begram mint, of Wima Kadphises (113-127 CE) of early bilingual type, MK762, 16.79 g, 27 mm. (BM IOC.274)

Figure 14. Gold double dinar of Wima Kadphises, MK10, (113-127 CE), (BM 1894,0506.2)

Figure 15. Gold dinar, Balkh mint, of Wima Kadphises (113-127 CE) from end of his reign, MK18, 8 g, 22 mm. (1888,1208.534)

Figure 16. Copper tetradrachm, Gandharan mint, issued under Huvishka (150-190 CE) early in his reign, 17.11 g, 26 mm. (BM 1991,0416.4)

Figure 17. Copper drachm, Kashmir mint, issued by Kanishka (127-150 CE), MK13, 4.43 g, 19 mm. (BM 1894,0506.1418)

Figure 18. Gold dinar, Taxila mint, issued under Huvishka (150-190 CE) in the middle of his reign, depicting Ardochsho with blundered inscription, MK330, 7.99 g, 20 mm. (BM 1898,0712.3)

Figure 19. Gold quarter dinar, Balkh mint, issued by Kanishka (127-150 CE), depicting Mao, 1.97 g, 13 mm. (BM 1888,1208.541)

Figure 20. Gold dinar, Balkh mint, issued by Kanishka (127-150 CE), depicting Miiro, 7.93 g, 19 mm. (BM 1879,0501.2)

Figure 21. Gold dinar, Balkh mint, issued by Kanishka (127-150 CE), depicting Nana, 7.97 g, 19 mm. (BM 1874,0504.1)

Figure 22. Gold dinar, Taxila mint, issued by Vasudeva I (150-190 CE), depicting Wesho, 7.93 g, 20 mm. (BM 1993,0642.1)

Figure 23. Copper Tetradrachm, Begram mint, issued under Kanishka (127-150 CE), depicting Oado, 17.51 g, 26 mm. (BM IOC.299)

Figure 24. Gold quarter dinar, Balkh mint, issued under Huvishka (150-190 CE), depicting Pharro, 1.99 g, 13 mm. (BM 1860,1220.205)

Figure 25. Gold dinar, Balkh mint, issued under Huvishka (150-190 CE) late in his reign, depicting Shaoreoro, 7.96 g, 21 mm. (BM 1879,0501.15)

Figure 26. Copper half unit denomination, Mathura mint, issued under Vasudeva (190-230 CE), 4.38g, 17 mm. (BM 1983,0119.3)

Figure 27. Gold dinar, Balkh mint, Vasudeva type possibly Sasanian or Kushanshah with three-dot control mark uncharacteristic of Kushan coinage, early-mid 3rd century, 7.96 g, 23 mm. (BM 1889,0506.1)

Figure 28. Gold dinar, Balkh mint, Kushan type produced under the Sasanians or Kushanshahs, early-mid 3rd century, 7.66g, 23 mm. (BM 1860,1220.210)

Figure 29. Gold dinar, Balkh mint, Kushan type produced under the Sasanians or Kushanshahs, mid-3rd century, 8.06 g, 27 mm. (BM IOC.583)

Figure 30. Copper unit, Sasanian imitating obverse of Kanishka II and reverse of Vasudeva, 3rd century, 6.56 g, 21 mm. (BM 1844,0921.26)

Figure 31. Gold dinar, Taxila mint, issued under Kanishka II, MK 541 (230-247 CE), 7.85 g, 21 mm. (BM 1893,0506.30)

Figure 32. Gold dinar, Taxila mint, issued under Vasishka, MK 568A (247-267 CE), 7.83 g, 21 mm. (BM 1982,0625.5)

Figure 33. Copper unit, issued under Vasishka (AD 247-267) with chhu control mark, MK 1011, 5.62 g, 20 mm. (BM 1889,1203.23)

Figure 34. Gold dinar, unknown mint, issued under Kanishka III, MK635 (267-270 CE), 7.93 g, 21 mm. (BM 1893,0506.41)

Figure 35. Gold dinar, Taxila mint, issued under Vasudeva II, MK569 (267-300 CE), 7.89 g, 23 mm. (BM 1894,0506.110)

Figure 36. Copper coin issued under Vasudeva II (267-300 CE), 3.56 g, 16 mm. (BM 1893,0506.27)

Figure 37. Copper coin issued under Shaka (early 4th century), 3.63 g, 18 mm. (BM 1992,0119.4)

Figure 38. Gold dinar, Taxila mint, issued under Mahi (c.300 CE), 7.74 g, 19 mm. (BM 1847,1201.262)

Figure 39. Gold dinar, Northern mint, issued under Kipunadha (mid 4th century) early in his reign, 7.40 g, 19 mm. (BM 1893,0506.49)

Figure 40. Gold dinar, Southern mint, issued under Kipunadha (mid-late 4th century) late in his reign, 7.15 g, 18 mm. (BM 1894,0506.180)

Figure 41. Gold dinar, issued under Maśra (late 3rd century), 6.84 g, 19 mm. (BM 1920,1016.12)

Figure 42. Gold coin of Samatata imitating designs of Kushan coins, 6.72 g, 21 mm. (BM 1999,0609.1)

Figure 43. Cast copper coin of Orissa, imitating designs of Kushan coins, 9.87 g, 23 mm. (BM 1895,0704.2)

Figure 44. Sino-Kharoshthi coin with horse design from Khotan, 3.72 g, 22 mm. (BM 1902,0608.35)


D. R. Bhandarkar, Corpus Inscription Indicarum  III: Inscriptions of the Early Gupta Kings, New Delhi, 1981.

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(Robert Bracey)

Originally Published: August 10, 2016

Last Updated: August 10, 2016

Cite this entry:

Robert Bracey, “KUSHAN DYNASTY iv. Coinage of the Kushans,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2016, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/kushan-dynasty-04 (accessed on 17 August 2016).