The figure of the goddess recalls influence of the ancient Indo-Greek kingdom from the 1st century BCE. All Lichhavi coins are made of copper and have on them the king’s name, the figure of a god or goddess, with flowers, vajra, trisul, kalas, the sun, the moon, or animals such as the bull, lion, cow and elephant. There is consistency in their shapes and sizes, and are handmade, but there is no date inscribed on them.
Lichhav kings Gunakamdev and Anshuvarma have similar coins to their predecessors, while coins issued by King Jisnugupta (635 – ?) show a bull on one side, and a vajra or a trisul on the reverse. Satyamohan Joshi takes this as proof of the king’s devotion to both Shiva and the Buddha.
Suman Basnet, an avid collector of Nepali coins for the past 20 years, says that in addition to the metal used, the different symbols and depictions are in themselves records of history and the attitudes of people.
“These coins are concrete evidence of how people lived in those specific times and places,” he says. “I wanted to delve deep into our history through something concrete and ubiquitous as coins. These coins could have been handled by farmers, merchants, kings, men women and children in the past.”