Kantirava Narasa (1638 - 1662 AD) was the first king of Mysore to issue the coinage with inscriptions. His fanams with Lord Narasimha created a series of fanams which numismatically became known as Kantirava Fanams. Another two series of remarkable fanams which took the name Siva-Parvathi (originally minted by Sadasiva Nayaka of Ikkeri) and the Hoysala's Stylished Lion/Boar fanam" under the name Viraraya Fanam.
There are two well noted Kantirava type of fanams. Indeed they both have the Narasimha on obverse. Narasimha is the fourth reincarnation of Lord Vishnu with human body(Nara means man) and Lion (Simha means Lion) face. The "Yogabhanda" pose is well depicted in the earlier Kanteerava coinage. The meditation pose with legs folded inward and the holy thread (Janeva) going around both his knees which virtually supports the posture, is well engraved. HE holds in his upper hands the stylished attributes of a flaming chakra and a flaming conch, his lower arms resting on his knees. The earlier dies seems to have been engraved with the superior workmanship of the engraver, and the legible one or two characters makes us to conclude that they are the earlier prototypes. Thus it could be believed that the early examples were probably issued during the reign of Kantirava Narasa Raja (1638 - 1659). Upon Tipu's death, the Kantirava fanam resurfaced due to the minting by Deevan Purnaiya during Krishna Raja Wodeyar-III (1799-1812).
The wide popularity of the Kantirava fanams influenced several dynasties of the south along the coromondal cost to struck these type of fanams but the legends are corrupted and the metal is more debased with degenerated obverse device. There are reports that the same type were also issued by the Nayakas of Sira. The Kantirava fanam seems also to have been imitated by the British at Madras and perhaps even by the Dutch at Pulicat, Negapatnam and Tuticorin. These fanams eventually carried the name "New Canteroy". The die variations, complexity and the long period over which these were struck makes it hard to be attributable to particular ruler or the trading company.
For those who are curious to know what does this "Yoga Narasimha" symbol represents, here is the answer. To be immortal, Hiranya kashyapa had obtained from God Bramha immunity of attack from human beings or beasts. This king then went on abusing his royal powers and began forcing his subjects to worship him as their God. Among those opposed to accept him was his own son, Prahlada a staunch worshiper of Lord Vishnu. In order to surmount Bramha's condition, Vishnu assumed a form that was neither human nor beast, but a combination of both, and then went on to finish off this cruel person with his nails. After he finishes the cruel Hiranya Kashyapa, he becomes very furious, and the pose is known as UGRA NARASIMHA. Subsequently his disciple Prahlada, the saints and Gods who witnessed the scene, prays him to be cool and Narasimha undergoes a deep meditation with yoga mudra, and with that posture he is known Yoga Narasimha.
Tuluva dynasty ruler Vira Sadasiva Raya (1543 - 1570) of the Vijayanagara kingdom came out with the new styled "Vishnu sitting on pita with his right leg footed on the ground, and on the left lap seated Laksmi stretching left leg down, Both in sitting pose" on his coin obverse. He carried Damaru and Trident as seen in his coinage. When Ikkeri Nayakas were granted the governorship (Nayaka patta as called in Kannada), they depicted the similar style of obverse device but swapped with Siva and Parvathi (Nayakas were Saivites??), and the reverse also showed Sri Sadasiva instead of "Sri Sadashiva Rayaru". There were two Nayakas in succession with incidentally carrying the same name, namely Sadasiva Nayaka, and the Immadi (second) Sadasiva Nayaka (1544 - 1567, 1567 - 1570) who were the governors for Vira Sadasiva raya, but were ruling quite independently.
Hyder Ali took control of Ikkeri in 1761, he acquired their treasury and was influenced to use this widely accepted coinage with the same obverse device on his coinage, but the reverse was turned out to the persian "He" in a granular field. His coinage carried the new term "Bahaduri pagodas" while compared to the old classical term "Ikkeri Pagodas". Bednur was renamed as Hydernagar during his reign and remained as the mint of that time. But during Tipu's reign, coinage nomenclature took further turn to be called as "Sultani and Faruqi" pagodas.
When Mysore was handed over to Sri Krishna Raja Wodeyar by the British in 1799 (the year of Tipu's death in the Srirangapatna battle), the coinage system was reformed by the then regent Dewan Purnaiya. He implemented the same good old popular obverse design of Ikkeri Nayakas (of Keladi family of Bednur), but the reverse was engraved with "Sri Krishna Raja". Probably because both Ikkeri Nayakas pagodas and Krishna Raja's new issues were floating in the market in large numbers, these new pagodas were termed "New Ikkeri" in the shroff jargon.
P.S : The predecessor of Vira Sadasiva raya (e.g., Devaraya-I and Devaraya-II) had almost similar device of seated Siva Parvathi, but Siva is in Padmasana style. The design was much more compact.
LAST UPDATED 1st Nov 2001
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