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Standing Garudan on Tortoise Type Padmanabha Coin

Standing Garudan on Tortoise Type Padmanabha Coin

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Interpretation of symbols and thus attribution of an unique coin to Venad.
Interpretation of symbols and thus attribution of an unique coin to Venad.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Jee Francis Therattil on May 01, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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08/19/2013

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Standing Garudan onTortoise Type Padmanābha Coin
Jee Francis TherattilJee Francis TherattilJee Francis TherattilJee Francis Therattil &&&& Austin Jose H.Austin Jose H.Austin Jose H.Austin Jose H.This is one of the latest additions in the collection of the latter, who is active in thefield of numismatics for about a decade. The coin was passed on from Mr. Sundararaj of Chittoor, Palakkad Dist., Kerala, who is in the field for about three decades and anythingabout the provenance of this coin is receded into oblivion.Garudan - anthropoid kite - appearing on Padmanābha coin series is not souncommon.
1
But this is not the case with Garudan appearing on a Padmanābha coin in thetortoise sub-series. This is the only one known apart from a similar one reported to be in theBritish Museum collection.Obverse 15 mm. Ø, 3.8 g. ReverseUsually, Garudan is seen depicted in Padmanābha coins in a running posture, facingleft, with both arms raised - the posture depicted to represent Garudan praising the victory of his master - Vishnu [
Vishnuvijayam 
]. But here, Garudan is depicted in a standing posture asseen in the Ādikeshavaperumāl temple at Thiruvattār, Kanyakumari Dist., where he is at thefeet of Padmanābha Swami who is reclining facing right.
2
This temple is related withDaeshinganād
thāvazhi 
[branch] of Venād.
 
On the other side, Vishnu is depicted reclining facing left [of the coin] on the coiled[coils are seen depicted as three lines] serpent Ananthan - in the same Ananthashayanamposture as in the Padmanābha Swamy Temple at Thiruvananthapuram. The serpent isdepicted [only] in this coin as having six heads instead of five, the reason why Ananthan isoften called as
Ainthalārnāgam 
. The presence of 
kūrmam 
- tortoise, the second incarnation of Vishnu - depicted facing left; superimposing the serpent makes this coin classified under thetortoise sub-series.Similar coin in the British Museum is reported
3
as weighing 3.08 g and a diameter of 15 mm, whereas this one is having 3.8 g, which is in a fair state of preservation. The TWT[Thickness-Weight-Tortoise] theory
4
applicable to Padmanābha coins put forward a few yearsago is in perfect tally with this coin also.Even though the presence of Garudan on Venād coins may be indicating theinfluence of Vijayanagar Empire, the style of depiction is purely local. Vertical stylized fishsymbol is seen depicted without much significance and is to the right of elephant-earedGarudan who is seen wearing a two-tier 
 pāvāda 
down to the knees.We feel safe to attribute this rare issue to be between 15
th
and 17
th
Centuries AD.Even though a
Nāyaka 
was installed over Venad after the conflicts with Vijayanagar during1532 and 1544 AD, as the depiction of style of Garudan in this coin has no similarities withthe style in the depiction of Garudan in Vijayanagar coins, a direct link of that issue with thepresent coin as displaying any sort of Vijayanagar supremacy is ruled out. The appearance of Garudan in a native style with an identity of its own can be best described only as anexhibition of the reverence towards faith by the Venād ruler, on a particular concept, rather than something imposed by an outsider over the Venād ruler, where the tarnishing of anindependent identity will be the prime factor.Notes and References:
1a. Coin # A3, Anantasayanam and Thirai Cash of Venad and Travancore,A study by Barbara Mears, 2000.1b. Coin # 1195, page 255, The Coinage and History of Southern India,Part II, Michael Mitchiner, 1998.2. Courtesy to Dr. M. G. Sasibhooshan, Thiruvananthapuram,for sharing this valuable observation.3. As a footnote for coins in Anantasayanam Special [As] Issues, Anantasayanam and ThiraiCash of Venad and Travancore, A study by Mrs. Barbara Mears, 2000.4. Page 123, An Unique Padmanabha Type Coin of Venad,Jee Francis Therattil, vol. XI, Studies in South Indian Coins, 2001.

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