NGC Certifies Rare 400-year-old Gold Coin With Islamic and Hindu Themes
Posted on 11/7/2019
Numismatic Guaranty Corporation® (NGC®) has certified an amazing gold coin that represents an attempt 400 years ago to integrate two of the world’s largest religions in an empire stretching across today’s Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India. The 1605 Mughal Empire Half Mohur is graded NGC XF Details.
Walker’s Fine Art & Estate Auctioneers in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, is offering the coin in its December 11, 2019, Canadian and International Fine Art Catalog Sale. The auction house estimates the coin will realize $150,000 to $250,000 Canadian (about $114,000 to $190,000 USD).
The Mughal emperor from 1556 to 1605 was Abu'l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar, commonly known as “Muhammad Akbar” or just “Akbar.” He had a Sunni Muslim background but he ruled over an expanding realm that included Hindus and other non-Muslims and non-Sunni Muslims.
Akbar demonstrated a commitment to peaceful coexistence and unity in several ways. He repealed a tax that non-Muslims were required to pay in Muslim-controlled lands. He established what he called a “House of Worship,” where theologians of different faiths were invited to try to come to an agreement about a single “divine faith.”
He ordered the creation of coins that combined Islamic and Hindu symbolism. The coins are only known to have been issued in early 1605, just a few months before his death.
The coin’s obverse has figures representing two major Hindu deities, Rama and his wife, Sita. This depiction not only used figures from outside Islam but it also violated Islam’s prohibition of portraying people or objects that might be venerated. This prohibition is why most Islamic coins feature Arabic calligraphy of sayings from the Quran.
It is the only time a Muslim ruler included Hindu deities on his coins. Of the few that were made, most probably were destroyed by Akbar’s successors and other orthodox Muslims.
The NGC Details grade was assigned because the coin had been mounted. The fact that it had been turned into jewelry likely helped it survive.
The Arabic inscription on the reverse is the year and month in which the coin was struck. The year was 50, according to a new calendar Akbar dated from the beginning of his reign. The month was Farvardin, the first month in the Persian solar calendar.
Mughal Emperors reigned from 1526 to 1857. Shah Jahan, an Akbar grandson, built India’s most famous landmark, the Taj Mahal.
As Walker’s president, Jeffrey Walker, put it: “This coin is an extremely rare and highly significant historical item, a relic of a man who, through sheer willpower, attempted to unify the multitude of religious world views encompassed by his empire.
“NGC was the obvious choice to certify a rarity of this quality,” Walker added. “NGC certification helps give bidders greater confidence.”
Mark Salzberg, NGC Chairman, said, “We are pleased to certify this amazing coin with an incredible history. It is one of the greatest rarities from India’s rich numismatic history.”
The auction will preview 5 to 8 p.m. Dec. 10 and 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Dec. 11. For more information about the auction, go to WalkersAuctions.com
For more information about NGC, go to NGCcoin.com