Ancient Hindi coins produced in the Shahi Gandhara culture from 200 A. D. to 1300 A. D.We were able to collect several of these coins when we lived in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1974. Kabul was once a central city in the greater South Asian empire. The coin was minted by an enclave called the Shahi Gandhara, whose territory extended from about the middle south of modern Afghanistan to the Indus Valley.

The coins are all just bigger than the U. S. ten cent piece and just a bit smaller than a U. S. one cent piece. In order to cast the figures on the coins, a stone (steatite) mold is cut to half the depth that the coin will eventually be cast. For the figure on the opposite side of the coin, a second stone, cut to fit exactly with the first part of the mold is carved out, both to define the outer rim of the coin and to create the figure for the opposite side.

When the two sides of the coin mold were clamped together, a slit remained at the top of the clamped mold so that molten silver could be poured into the mold. Sometimes air or movement could smear an image on one side or another, or make an uneven outer rim.

The images on these particular coins of this period and this culture were uniform in that they had a reclining animal, probably a horse, because it does not have horns and it has a recognizable saddle. By this time, horses were in wide use among the Central Asians, so the Hindi neighboring rulers could have had a mount.

The custom probably was that the horse would kneel down for the ruler to mount. It is obvious that the figure on the opposite side from the reclining horse is a ruler, because he carries a long staff and wears a very large hat with a kind of sunscreen hanging from the brim. I have been informed by people from the Hindi culture and language that the figure represents the Hindu god Ganesh. The figure is shown mounted on that horse that knelt for him on the other face of the coin. After the ruler (representing a Hindu god) is mounted, the horse is prancing with his forelegs and carrying his long wavy tail proudly. This is a blooded horse, fit for a man carrying the ruler's rod.

I have about five or more coins like this one in the same size and with the same or very similar combinations of figures on each side, all bought in 1974 in Kabul. Inquiries are invited.