Jump to content

Chola grail coin acquired!


Recommended Posts

Have you ever spent a long time searching for an elusive coin, only to unexpectedly come across it while browsing randomly? Although this coin is not extremely rare, it is certainly not as readily available as its copper counterparts. Most auction houses that feature them are based in India and do not ship overseas, while Western auction houses offer them only rarely, unlike the more common anonymous Kahavanu. 


Raja Raja Chola
AV Kahavanu
Chola Empire
985-1014 AD
20 mm, 4.24 g
Ceylon type, period of Chola invasion.
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, characterised 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 RA JA RA JA.
Codrington 104; Mitchiner 729; Biddulph 5.
Ex Heritage Auctions Europe, Auction 82, Lot 7499 (May 2024).
Ex Podlaski Gabinet Numizmatyczny Marek Melcer, June 2024.

A bit of a history:
Raja Raja Chola I's invasion of Sri Lanka around 993 CE was a significant military campaign aimed at expanding the Chola Empire's influence, another reason being, the Sinhalese were an ally of the Pandyas, the arch nemesis of Cholas. He launched the invasion by swiftly capturing and destroying Anuradhapura, the ancient capital of the Anuradhapura Kingdom, marking its end. The capital was then shifted to Polonnaruwa (renamed Jananathapuram) as the new administrative centre under Chola control. The Chola forces continued their campaign southwards, subjugating the entire northern and central regions of Sri Lanka and capturing the Sinhalese ruler, Mahinda V.   

The Cholas established a well-organised administration, integrating the newly conquered territories into their empire. This included issuing coinage that imitated the local anonymous Kahavanu, as shown in my example below. With the Chola Empire now encompassing most of South India and Sri Lanka, and benefiting from trade with the Arabs and Chinese, it became one of the wealthiest empires of its time. This wealth funded grand projects, most notably the Brihadeeswara Temple, dedicated to Shiva, which was built in 1010 AD.



Thank you!

  • Like 11
  • Heart Eyes 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Congrats! I noticed that particular coin in Heritage Europe, but decided to pass as I already had one of those.  It's definitely a great acquisition, so kudos. I am still searching for the mainland version of this, but here is mine:


Ceylon: Raja Raja Chola (ca. 985-1014) AV Kahavanu (MNI-825)

Obv: King seated right, with arm on right raised and holding sankh shell; Devanagari legend on right, below raised arm - श्री रज रज (Sri Raja Raja)
Rev: Standing king with ancillary symbols, to left and right


  • Like 6
  • Heart Eyes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, quant.geek said:

Congrats! I noticed that particular coin in Heritage Europe, but decided to pass as I already had one of those. 

I only saw this coin on CoinArchives after it had been sold, so I was pleasantly surprised to see it listed by PGNUM on Ma-Shops. However, I found it even cheaper on their own site. Despite paying more than the auction price, I’m satisfied with the purchase, as I’ve been waiting for this coin for a long time! Last year, I saw the same type on eBay, but it had slashes on both sides and looked significantly worn. Luckily, its steep price deterred me from making an impulse purchase.

Edited by JayAg47
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...