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I finally got the gold Kahavanu I've wanted for 5 years!


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My first acquisition of the year and a coin I've been searching for since 2019! I've never tried purchasing or bidding on a coin from a professional auction house, except for this particular type. Each attempt resulted in losing the coins, and retail hasn't been favorable either, often featuring overpriced examples of poor quality. While this type is not uncommon, it is extremely rare to come across one with a nice strike and full details on the face since most of these issues are crudely and flatly struck. What's more special is finding it locally at a great price. 

What I find interesting about this coin are the dimensions, at 20mm weighing 4.28 grams, it's the same as an early Islamic gold dinar, who copied their coins from the light-weight solidi meant for circulation outside the Byzantine empire. It's noteworthy that the Cholas, being a thalassocratic empire, generated significant revenues not only through conquering other kingdoms but also by engaging in trade with the Arabs and Chinese. Their influence extended to the extent of invading the Sri Vijaya empire (modern-day Western Indonesia) for imposing heavy taxes on Tamil Chola merchant ships. Shows you how the world was interconnected so much back in the day! 

On to the coin! 


Anonymous gold Kahavanu from Ceylon (Sri Lanka).
Type III-B
20 mm, 4.28 g
Period of Chola invasion (970-1070 AD)
Obverse: The depiction showcases a standing king facing right, adorned with a pointed crown. The king holds a lotus in his right hand and points at the Shrivatsa symbol with his left hand. A degenerate coconut palm tree is situated on the far left. The king is attired in a wavy Dhoti, characterized by two curved lines on either side and one line in between the legs, resembling tentacles and earning the moniker 'octopus man.' The king stands on a lotus plant stalk with a small circle in the center, concluding on the left in a conch shell and featuring a lotus bud on the right. Five pellets to the right, meaning 'Pala-Panca', Panca meaning 5, denoting 5 Pala coins weighing 1.10g each. While 5 of those coins weigh more than the Kahavanu itself, earlier types have only 4 dots, that would make 4 Palas equal 1 kahavanu (Probably a result of inflation).

Reverse: Seated king facing right, with his left hand resting on his left leg and his right hand holding a conch shell. His right leg rests on a couch or bed-like throne known as asana. On the right side of the field, a Devanagari legend is inscribed in three lines, reading Sri Lan Ka Vi Ha. In these coins, Viha denotes the value, equivalent to 20 Silver Massas.

Note: Despite common attributions identifying it as Sri Lan Ka Vi Bhu, a closer examination reveals the last letter to be Ha. This distinction becomes apparent when comparing the final letter with early Type-I issues or coins from SaHAsamalla or ParakramaBAHU. Additionally, in these anonymous gold coins, there is an absence of Bha that could combine to form the letter Bhu. Following the letter Vi, only Ha is present. Reference: https://sirimunasiha.wordpress.com/about/the-script-on-medieveal-coins-of-sri-lanka/ https://sirimunasiha.wordpress.com/2010/08/15/the-legend-on-gold-coinage-dr-s-paranavitane/

Here's my copper massa of Raja Raja Chola for size comparison.


Please share your Chola or Sri-Lankan coins!


Edited by JayAg47
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