Jahangir's Zodiac Coins
- December 26, 2020
- By Arun Ramamurthy
Jahangir was the son of Akbar by his Rajput queen, Princess Jodhabai of Amber. Janagir's coins are known for several innovations including the first portrait Mughal Mohurs and the famous Zodiac series of coins.
Jahangir struck his zodiacal coins in both gold and silver. Those in gold are known for all the twelve signs of the year, while those in silver were only struck for the first five months. The first was in Farwardin, when the sun was in Aries, the second in Ardibihisht which corresponded to Taurus, the third in Khurdad with Gemini, the fourth in Tir with Cancer and the fifth in Amardad with Leo. Jahangir’s thirteenth regnal year began on the first day of Farwardin, when the sun entered Aries, but it was not until the twenty-third day of that month that he decreed that the zodiacal coins were to be struck. He then made his entry into the town of Ahmadabad, the capital of Gujarat, in the month of Ardibihisht, when the sun was in Taurus and he left Ahmedabad in the month of Amardad when the sun was in Leo. The silver zodiacal coins were only struck just before and during Jahangir’s visit to Ahmadabad. After that their production ceased. This was almost certainly because when Jahangir returned to his capital at Agra he appointed his son Shah Jahan as governor of Ahmadabad and he is known to have disapproved strongly of his father’s zodiacal coins. After his departure from Ahmadabad, Jahangir stopped in Fathpur and this was where the first gold zodiacal coin was struck in the month of Bahman with the sign Pisces. From then on Zodiac gold Mohurs were issued at Jahangir's pleasure
The Zodiac presentation coins continued to be struck for the Mughal emperors until the final dissolution of the empire in the 19th century. It is important to distinguish the early restrikes, which were official issues of the Mughal court, from the later imitations, which are private strikes made for purposes of bullion accumulation, or for the deception of collectors. Many of the official court types, both Jahangir's originals and the restrikes of his successors, are extremely rare. Because many of these coins had been recalled and melted by Jahangir’s successor, Shah Jahan, original strikes are very rare. Numismatists have divided the portrait and zodiac series mohurs into four classes:
Class A: undisputed original strikes, characterized by deep relief, somewhat uneven flans, and rounded calligraphy.
Class B: possibly original strikes, but more likely minted in the first decade or two following Jahangir’s death. The relief is shallower, of a more uniform appearance, and the calligraphy is more square.
Class C: mohurs of Class A or B that have had the zodiac type removed and re-engraved.
Class D: later imitations and forgeries.
In his memoirs, Jahangir wrote: 'Previously to this, …on the reverse of the coin the name of the mint and the year of the reign would be stamped….it entered my mind that in place of the month they should substitute the figure of the constellation of that month...' It must have been quite fashionable during those times to own these coins. They would often be mounted on chains and worn as jewellery.