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HISTORY AND ORIGINS OF THE PAKISTANI RUPEE
The origins or the nomenclature and motifs on the Pakistani coins have their origins in the confluence of Greek Bactria and Buddhist Kushan empires in Pakistani Potowar and North West Frontier Province (NWFP), in the Nizam’s Hydrabadi (Deccan) “sikkas” as well as Mughal Emperor Shah Alam’s design of the thistle garnishing our crests.
The topography around Taxila is complicated as it has been much affected by the uplift of the Karakoram ranges, and by local folding during Quaternary times. The site occupies a central place in the enclave formed coalescing valleys of the two streams. The main route from Pakistan to Central Asia and China which follows the open fertile corridor Cholistan to Karrakrrum Hills divides at Txila. One path leads to Tibet and China, the other to Central Asia and one to the Indus Valley (The Archaeology of Early Historic South Asia: The Emergence of Cities and States By Frank Raymond Allchin)
To trace the origins of the rupees, one has to drive about fifty miles from Islamabad and visit the Taxila museum. Some of numismatics’ most celebrated rarities – including the original Rupee coin – are displayed in an exhibit open to the public at the Taxila Museum.This is where the original rupee was minted and this is where it is saved. Taxila was the capital of the Pakistani Ghandara civilization which grew out of Hellenistic influences on Kasniska Buddhist empire. The rupee grew out of the clash of Bactria and Kushan empire.
Originally the rupee was divided into 16 annas, 64 paise, or 192 pies. Half a Rupee was 8 Annas (Athanni), and a quarter rupees was called “Chawanni” (or a Quarter). It is 100% accurate is sometimes called “correct as in 16 annas).
ORIGINS OF THE WORD RUPEE: The origins of the word Rupees can be traced back to the language spoken in Pakistan around 6th century B.C. Rup, rupa,,,,However a deep investigation shows that the word has Arabic origins for the ocngugation of the Arabic word for Silver “Qasaf”. Jewlellers even today are called “Sarrafs”
ORIGINS OR CURRENCY IN ANCIENT PAKISTAN: 5000 years ago the currency in vogue on what is today Pakistan was called the “Kauri”. These were special shells only available on the Mekran coast. The authorities at the time monopolized the supply of the “Kauri” and used it as currency. The “Kauri” along with the Harappan seals have been found as far as Hawai, and in many parts of the MiddleEast and Africa.
KUSHAN KUNIOS: The early Kushan coins had Greek on them
6th Century Rupee: Both gold and silver coins were issued during the 5th and 6th centuries AD by the Gupta dynasty; the gold coins were called Dinars and the silver coins, Rupaka. Eight Rupakas were equal to half a dinar. But curiously the widespread existence of gold and silver coins of the Gupta era almost disappeared from the seventh century onwards. There were some silver coins in south-eastern Bengal..
Indeed, markings on the Gupta coins provide information about religious rites while those dating back to Kanishka’s time feature Iranian goddesses and Zoroastrian concepts, suggestive of the multicultural stands that shaped India’s cultural fabric.
TUGHLAQS CURRENCY: Muhammad Bin Tughlaq tried to issue copper coins backed by the Gold reserves, but this policy failed because of millions were forged and distributed. In 1833, the nomenclature of British Bengal became British India and Bengal became one of the provinces of British India; Calcutta being the imperial capital.
Cowrie kept its dominant position in the rural areas where transactions were basically of small scale
SURIS CALLED IS RUPEE: The derivative word R?paya was used to denote the coin introduced by Sher Shah Suri during his reign from 1540 to 1545 CE. The original R?paya was a silver coin weighing 175 grains troy (about 11.34 grams) .
MUGHALS CALLED IT RUPEE: The Mughals called their currency Rupee.
The rural sector was governed partly by cowrie and partly by direct exchange in kind and services. The exchange system of goods against goods, service against service and labour against labour operated quite efficiently.
The most significant monetary contribution of the Mughals was to bring about uniformity and consolidation of the system of coinage throughout the Empire. The system lasted long after the Mughal Empire was effectively no more. The system of tri-metalism which came to characterise Mughal coinage was largely the creation, not of the Mughals but of Sher Shah Suri (1540 to 1545 AD), an Afghan, who ruled for a brief time in Delhi. Sher Shah issued a coin of silver which was termed the Rupiya. This weighed 178 grains and was the precursor of the modern rupee. It remained largely unchanged till the early 20th Century. Together with the silver Rupiya were issued gold coins called the Mohur weighing 169 grains and copper coins called Dam
If not entirely, but largely this barter feature of the economy gave way to exchange through money during the Mughal period. Foreigners, particularly maritime companies of Europe, began to come by sea routes to participate in the Bengal export trade from the beginning of the Mughal rule. They came with bullion to buy Bengal merchandise because, their products had practically no market here. Large-scale import of silver and other treasures gave the Mughal government an opportunity to stimulate its economy backed by a broad-based currency system. Mint towns were established in Dhaka, Murshidabad and Patna where bullion was brought by shroffs for coining according to approved weights and fineness. The Mughal currency was named Rupee (from Rupa or Rupaiya).
All rupees coined under the reigning king were called Siccas. The Sicca Ruppee contained about 175 grains of silver. The Sicca Rupee had an important political content. On the accession of a new emperor to the throne, the rupees of the former regime were declared sanaut (devalued) and were made subject to a batta (discount). The sanaut rupee was not received into the royal treasury even on discount. In the money market there was a professional class of money changers called shroffs or sarrafs who bought the sanaut rupees at a batta and took them to royal mint for recoining the bullion into Sicca Rupees.
“Emperor Akbar issued coins on Ram and Sita,” revealed Bhandare. “Then there was Mohammad Ghauri, seen usually in negative fanatical terms, who issued coins with Goddess Lakshmi on them.
Jehangir gold mohurs have 12 signs of the zodiac
Coins of Shah Alam II had Urdu inscriptions surrounded by motifs of holly, shamrock and thistle!” This is the same thistle that garnishes all Pakistani currency and the Pakistani crest.
British Raj: In 1833, the nomenclature of British Bengal became British India and Bengal became one of the provinces of British India; Calcutta being the imperial capital.The silver coin was in used during the British Raj.The use of the Rupee was not confined to the Subcontinent its usage went as far as Arabia and even Africa, Somalia, Kenya all parts of the British “Indian Empire” at one time or the other. As part of the adoption of the Metric system, President Ayub Khan decimalized the currency in 1961even thugh sri Lanaka had already done so almost a hundred years earlier.
Among the earliest issues of paper rupees were those by the Bank of Hindostan (1770-1832), the General Bank of Bengal and Bihar (1773-75, established by Warren Hastings), the Bengal Bank (1784-91), amongst others.
Notes issued by the Bank of Bengal can be categorised in the following three series.
Unifaced series: The early notes of the Bank of Bengal were printed only on one side and were issued as one gold mohur and in denominations of Rs. 100, Rs. 250, Rs. 500, etc.
Commerce series: Later notes had a vignette representing an allegorical female figure personifying ‘commerce’. The notes were printed on both sides. On the obverse the name of the bank and the denominations were printed in three scripts, viz., Urdu, Bengali and Devanagari. On the reverse of such notes was printed a cartouche with ornamentation carrying the name of the Bank.
Brittania series: By late 1800s, the motif ‘commerce’ was replaced by ‘Britannia’. The new banknotes had more features to prevent forgery
HYDRABAD RUPEE: The currency was designated the Osmania Sicca (OS). One and five rupee notes were subsequently issued in 1919 and one thousand rupee notes were issued in 1926. After the setting up of the India Currency Notes Press at Nasik, Hyderabad notes came to be printed there.
Hyderabad continued to mint its own coins until 1948, when the state was absorbed into India. In 1950, the Indian rupee was introduced alongside the local currency, with the relationship of 7 Hyderabad rupees = 6 Indian rupees being used. In 1951, the Hyderabad rupee ceased to be issued and the Indian rupee became the main circulating currency, although the Hyderabad rupee was not demonetized until 1959
The COWRIE (Kadi) shell had been in use as the smallest unit of currency all throughout ancient times. The use of cowrie as medium was there in the rural areas even in the late nineteenth century, even afterwards, in some places. Cowrie was then obtained from Maldive in exchange of rice
MODERN RUPEE BASED ON SILVER: The rupee was a silver based currency. This had severe consequences in the nineteenth century, when the strongest economies in the world were on the gold standard. The discovery of vast quantities of silver in the U.S. and various European colonies resulted in a decline in the relative value of silver to gold. Suddenly the standard currency of India could not buy as much from the outside world. This event was known as “the fall of the Rupee.”
Sources: Banglapdia, Wikipedia, Dictionary
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