Gold coins of the Gupta dynasty – 3rd – 6th century

These are the three gold coins that I saw at the British Museum, London, South Asia Gallery. While researching and writing about the Gupta dynasty for the Bihar Museum, I read and wrote about these gold coins by just seeing their images on the British Museum online database. But seeing them today offered a different perspective – didn’t realise they were so beautiful, small and so perfect.

This is the first and possibly only visual reference to the Gupta dynasty rulers.

Samudragupta, known as the great Gupta conqueror, was the first Gupta ruler to introduce gold coins, nearly entirely composed of gold, earlier gold coins were composed of other metals too.

He is also renowned for appropriating the ‘Ashwamedha Yajna’ to a complex ritual where after a long and arduous prayer and religious rituals, his horse was allowed to roam free through his territory. If the royal horse passed unchallenged it meant that that territory considered Samudragupta as their ruler, else if the horse was captured then that ruler had to fight Samudragupta. A very unique method of assessing supremacy and marking territory – an alternative to the GPS?

Samudragupta, the great Gupta ruler, with the 'veena' in front of the 'garuda' standard  -the royal emblem was the bird 'garuda'

Kumaragupta I, another important Gupta ruler, sits on the peacock
Kumaragupta I, another important Gupta ruler, sits on the peacock
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