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Coin, approx. 1800–1839

Coin, approx. 1800–1839. India; Amritsar, Punjab state. Copper alloy, silver, and gold. Acquisition made possible in part by the Society for Asian Art, F1999.38.110.

Coin, approx. 1800–1839. India; Amritsar, Punjab state. Copper alloy, silver, and gold. Acquisition made possible in part by the Society for Asian Art, F1999.38.110.

The Sikh courts produced their own currency. In Ranjit Singh’s court, most imperial coins were inscribed solely in Persian, as is the case here, reflecting Ranjit’s own ecumenical mindset and affinity with Mughal courtly culture. Such coins are commonly inscribed with Persian couplets glorifying Sikh gurus or heroes, or express religious and philosophical ideals. Some bear the likeness of Guru Nanak, sometimes portrayed along with his companions. Sikh coins were minted in the holy city of Amritsar, as was this one, as well as in Lahore, Kashmir, Multan, and Peshawar. Gurmukhi script, the script of the Sikh sacred scriptures and of the local language, was used on lower-value copper coins that were circulated locally.