DescriptionINDIA. Kushan Empire. Vima Kadphises (ca. AD 113-127). AV dinar (21mm, 8.03 gm, 12h). AU. Mint A. BACIΛЄYC OOH-MO KAΔΦICHC, half-length bust of Vima Kadphises left, arising from mountain top, wearing peaked tall cap with small sphere within crescent feature at top, loop motif on side, diadem with ties and long ribbons to right, overcoat clasped at the chest and worn over tunic, mace-scepter in right hand, eagle-headed hilt in left; tamgha in right field / maharajasa rajadirajasa sarvaloga'isvarasa mahisvarasa v'ima kathpisasa tradara (Kharosthi), Ithyphallic Oesho standing facing, nude with erect lingam, head left with spiked hair, trident axe in right hand, water pot in left by hip with animal skin draped over arm, wearing arm bands and amulet string across chest; tamgha in left field, nandipada in right field. ANS Kushan 266-268. Göbl DB 82. Göbl MDK 19. Alram -. Rosenfeld -. Well centered and sharply struck.
Ex Heritage Auctions, CICF 3024 (18 April 2013), lot 24732 (realized $4000).
The Kushans originated as a branch of the Yuezhi nomads of western China, intermixed with Bactrian, Iranian, and Indian elements, creating an eclectic blend of cultures and ethnicities. At its peak, the Kushan Empire stretched from modern Afghanistan, to northern and central Pakistan and India, and even to parts of Western China. Like many Kushan rulers, Vima Kadphises is something of a mystery in terms of his character and accomplishments. We know the broad outlines: He was the third ruler of the dynasty, succeeding his father Vima Taktu; he greatly enlarged the kingdom through conquests in modern Pakistan; the economy flourished during his reign as the Kushan Empire grew rich on foreign trade. Most importantly to our purposes, he was the first Kushan ruler to strike gold coins, including the impressive double-dinar, the types of which illustrate the unique fusion of Hellenistic Greek, Central Asian steppe, and Indian Hindu and Buddhist cultures found on early Kushan coinage. Like the Huns, the Kushans seem to have artificially elongated the skulls of their male rulers from infancy, producing the effect seen on the obverse portrait here. The reverse portrays the Central Asian god Oesho, which is represented with the acoutrements and guise of the Indian god Shiva, and the nandipada - the hoofprint of Shiva's bull, Nandi. There is also a Roman element involved here if we consider that the gold from which this coin was made likely came from melted down aurei used to pay for eastern luxuries.
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