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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Asian Coins ▸ Kushan EmpireView Options:  |  |  | 

Coins of the Kushan Empire, 30 - 375 A.D.

The Kushans descended from the Guishuang branch of the nomadic Yueh-Chi tribe. The Kushans first ruled in Bactria. They gradually expanded until, at the height of the Empire, the Kushans loosely ruled a territory that extended north to the Aral Sea through present-day Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, south into northern India, and east as far as Kashgar, Khotan and Yarkant, in the Tarim Basin of modern-day Xinjiang, China. A direct road from Gandhara to China remained under Kushan control for more than a century. The loose unity and comparative peace of such a vast expanse encouraged long-distance trade, brought Chinese silks to Rome, and created flourishing urban centers. The Kushan dynasty had diplomatic contacts with the Roman Empire, Sasanian Persia, the Aksumite Empire and Han Dynasty of China. While much philosophy, art, and science was created within its borders, the only textual record of the empire's history today comes from inscriptions and accounts in other languages, particularly Chinese. In the 3rd century, the Kushan empire fragmented into semi-independent kingdoms which fell to the Sasanians invading from the west. In the 4th century, the Guptas, an Indian dynasty also pressed from the east. The last of the Kushan and Kushano-Sasanian kingdoms were eventually overwhelmed by invaders from the north, known as the Kidarites, and then the Hepthalites.Map of the Kushan Empire


Kushan Empire, Shaka, c. 305 - 335 A.D.

Click for a larger photo
The list of Kushan rulers and their dates of reign is constantly under review. This coin has a Brahmi inscription "Shaka" in the right field, in the same place where Vasudeva II's coins read "Vasu." It is natural to suppose that perhaps Shaka was the name of the king who issued the coin. There is a mention of one "Devaputra Shahi Shahanshahi Shaka Murunda" in Samudragupta's famous Allahabad inscription, as one of the rulers who paid him homage. In this context, Shaka could be a title, it could refer to a tribe, or it could be a personal name. Robert Göbl did not think Shaka was the name of a ruler; rather, he thought the coins were tribal issues, but Michael Mitchiner and the authors of ANS Kushan think Shaka was a king.
SH85122. Gold dinara, ANS Kushan 1671, Göbl Kushan 585, Donum Burns 760 - 762, gVF, small hairline flan crack, scratch on reverse, weight 7.823 g, maximum diameter 19.7 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain mint, c. 305 - 335 A.D.; obverse Shaka standing facing, head left wearing nimbus, diadem and conical hat, sacrificing over altar from right hand, filleted staff in left hand, filleted trident to left, Brahmi inscriptions: sya under left arm, vi between altar and leg, Shaka right; reverse goddess Ardoxsho enthroned facing, nimbate, diadem in right hand, cradling cornucopia in left arm, tamgha upper left, blundered Bactrian inscription (mostly off flan as usual); SOLD


Kindarite Huns, Peroz, c. 345 - 350 A.D.

Click for a larger photo
The Kindarite coins betray little of their Hun origins as the designs were copied from coins issued by the Kushan and Kushano-Sasanian kings, whom they succeeded. In Bactria, the coins of were struck in the name of the last Kushano-Sasanian king, Varahran Kushanshah, whom they may have retained as a puppet ruler, but the real power is identified by a Kindarite tamga.
SH48317. Gold stater, ANS Kushan 2420, Mitchiner ACW 3592, Göbl Kushan 608, aEF, weight 7.796 g, maximum diameter 21.8 mm, die axis 0o, Gandhara mint, c. 345 - 350 A.D.; obverse Kushan style king standing facing, head left, nimbate, diademed, wearing pointed cap, sacrificing at altar from right hand, staff in left hand, trident above left; Brahmi inscriptions: Kapana next to altar, Peroyasa under left arm, Gadahara right; reverse goddess Ardochsho (Lakshmi) enthroned facing, nimbate, crescent on top of head, diadem with ladder-like ribbons in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, tamga upper left, Brahmi monogram sha right; SOLD


Kushan Empire, Shaka, c. 305 - 335 A.D.

Click for a larger photo
The list of Kushan rulers and their dates of reign is constantly under review. This coin has a Brahmi inscription "Shaka" in the right field, in the same place where Vasudeva II's coins read "Vasu." It is natural to suppose that perhaps Shaka was the name of the king who issued the coin. There is a mention of one "Devaputra Shahi Shahanshahi Shaka Murunda" in Samudragupta's famous Allahabad inscription, as one of the rulers who paid him homage. In this context, Shaka could be a title, it could refer to a tribe, or it could be a personal name. Robert Göbl did not think Shaka was the name of a ruler; rather, he thought the coins were tribal issues, but Michael Mitchiner and the authors of ANS Kushan think Shaka was a king.
SH09060. Gold dinara, Mitchiner ACW 3570, Göbl Kushan 591, ANS Kushan 1670 var. (Brahmi inscriptions), aEF, weight 7.740 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain mint, c. 305 - 335 A.D.; obverse Shaka standing facing, head left wearing nimbus, diadem and conical hat, sacrificing over altar from right hand, filleted staff in left hand, filleted trident to left, Brahmi inscriptions: nothing beside altar, bhri under left arm, Shaka right; reverse goddess Ardoxsho enthroned facing, nimbate, diadem in right hand with ladder like ribbon, cradling cornucopia in left arm, tamgha upper left, blundered Bactrian inscription (mostly off flan as usual); SOLD







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REFERENCES

Alram, M. Iranisches Personennamenbuch: Nomina Propria Iranica In Nummis. Österreichischen Akademie Der Wissenschaften. (Vienna, 1986).
Jongeward, D. & J. Cribb. Kushan, Kushano-Sasanian, and Kidarite Coins: A Catalogue of Coins from the American Numismatic Society. (New York, 2015).
Carter, M. "A Consideration of some Iconographic Details of Buddha Images on Kushana Coins" in Essays McDowall.
Carter, M. "A Numismatic Reconstruction of Kushano-Sasanian History" in ANSMN 30 (1985).
Cribb, J. "Kanishka's Buddha image coins revisited" in Silk Road Art and Archaeology 6 (1999/2000).
Cribb, J. "Numismatic Evidence for Kushano-Sasanian Chronology" in Studia Iranica 19 (1990).
Cribb, J. "The 'Heraus' coins: their attribution to the Kushan king Kujula Kadphises, c. AD 30-80" in Essays Carson-Jenkins.
Cribb, J. & R. Bracey. Kushan Coins Catalogue. (London, 2011).
Friedberg, A. & U. Gold Coins of the World, From Ancient Times to the Present. (Clifton, NJ, 2009).
Gardner, P. The Coins of the Greek and Scythic Kings of Bactria and India in the British Museum. (London, 1886).
Göbl. R. Donum Burns, Die Küsanmünzen im Münzkabinett Bern und die Chronologie. (Vienna, 1971).
Göbl, R. Münzprägung des Kusanreiches. Österreichischen Akademie Der Wissenschaften. (Vienna, 1984).
Herzfeld. E. Kushano-Sasanian Coins. Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India, No. 38. (Calcutta, 1930).
Jongeward, D. & J. Cribb. Kushan, Kushano-Sasanian, and Kidarite Coins: A Catalogue of Coins from the American Numismatic Society. (New York, 2015).
Loeschner, H. "Notes on the Yuezhi - Kushan Relationship and the Kushan Chronology" ONS Occasional Paper, 15 May 2008.
Mitchiner, M. Oriental Coins, Vol. 2: the Ancient and Classical World. (London, 1978).
Mukherjee. B. Kushana Silver Coinage. (Calcutta, 2004).
Rosenfield, J. The Dynastic Art of the Kushans. (Berkeley, 1967).
Senior, R. Indo-Scythian Coins and History. (London, 2001; supplement: London, 2006).
Whitehead, R. Catalog of Coins in the Panjab Museum, Lahore, Vol. I: Indo-Greek Coins. (Oxford, 1914).

Catalog current as of Monday, June 24, 2019.
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Kushan Coins