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Young World

Crafted coins

S. SURESH

The Nayaks were originally the feudatories or viceroys of the Vijayanagara kings. After the decline of the Vijayanagara Empire, the Nayaks claimed to be independent rulers of their territories. The Nayaks of Madurai, Gingee (or Jinji) and Thanjavur (Tamil Nadu) and Ikkeri or Keladi (Karnataka) are well known.

Most of the Nayak coins were of gold or copper. The design, figures size and weight of the Nayak coins are similar to that of the Vijayanagara coins. Sadasiva Nayak of Keladi haD issued some beautiful Nayak coins. One gold coin shows Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati seated next to each other. Shiva holds the trisula (trident) and the mriga (antelope) in his hands. Another gold coin of the same ruler features the mythical bird gandaberundha. This coin is almost identical to the gandaberundha coins minted by the Vijayanagara ruler Achyutaraya.

Sevappa, the first Nayak king of Thanjavur, issued a coin featuring a conch. Raghunatha Nayak of Thanjavur minted coins featuring Lord Rama, Lakshmana, Sita and Hanuman — all in standing posture.

A rare copper coin of this ruler displays, on its obverse, the standing figure of God Kartikeya or Muruga with his favourite peacock behind him. The reverse depicts the Nandi (sacred bull) below the Shivalinga.

The Madurai Nayaks issued many coins featuring fish — the emblem of the Pandyas who ruled Madurai before the Vijayanagara and Nayak rulers.

Some early Madurai Nayak coins portray the figure of the king. The bull is also frequently seen on the Madurai Nayak coins. Chokkanatha, one of the last rulers of this dynasty, issued coins displaying various animals such as the bear, elephant and lion. He also issued coins featuring Lord Hanuman and the Garuda.

The inscriptions of the Nayak coins are in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Nagari scripts.

Unlike the coins of many of the earlier dynasties, the Nayak coins are easily available for coin-collectors.

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