Art historical studies have hitherto been mostly confined to sculptures, paintings, furniture and jewellery. Boldly moving away from the conventional approach to the study of coins as mere economic entities, the present volume is the first systematic, comprehensive and analytical study of ancient Indian coins as objects of art. Coins, like historical monuments, sculptures and paintings, have a symbolic meaning behind the visual form and epitomize the socio- religious conditions and the art traditions in which they emerged. Focusing on the coins of south India, the study, combining empirical data with theoretical insights, explores the subtle interrelationships between the steady evolution of coinage and the simultaneous development of art in this region.
Tracing thematic, iconographic and stylistic affinities between the art in coins and the art in stone, the study clearly reveals that as sculptural art was more pervasive than numismatic art, the latter recurrently felt the impact of the former. Often, the mint masters and coin makers, faithfully reproduced, on a miniature scale, specimens of sculpture and architecture on the coins. At the same time, coins too were rarely featured in other mediums of art. Probing the metallic composition and the process of production of the coins of different dynasties and periods, the present study also analyses the technical constraints of numismatic art.
The volume includes an exhaustive corpus, prepared for the first time ever, of the symbols and devices on the coins of the major dynasties of ancient south India.
The book will be of interest to archaeologists, numismatists, art historians and economic historians.
S. Suresh is presently in the U.S. as a Fulbright Senior Research Fellow at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Washington D.C. and the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation of the University of Maryland. He is Tamil Nadu State Convener of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and Academic Director, Bharat Travel Services, Chennai. He was earlier Nehru Visiting Fellow at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Educated in Chennai, Delhi and London, he holds a Ph.D. in Classical Archaeology from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He has, to his credit, over 30 books and 50 research papers on various aspects of South Asian and Roman history, art and archaeology.
This volume embodies my research on the topic 'Numismatic Technology, Art and Symbology of Ancient South India (Up to and Including the Pallava Period)' as an ICHR Postdoctoral Research Fellow affiliated to the Sudharsanam Centre for Art and Culture, Pudukkottai (Tamil Nadu), from December 2002 to November 2004.
I take this opportunity to offer my grateful thanks to all those who helped and encouraged me during the course of this research.
First, I am most grateful to the authorities of the ICHR for offering the fellowship that enabled me to undertake this study.
I also place on record my gratitude to the Sudharsanam Centre for Art and Culture for providing me all facilities and assistance for my research. I am specially obliged to Prof. S. Swaminathan, Director of the Centre, for his encouragement and guidance. He resolved many problems at every stage of this project.
I was blessed with opportunities to discuss the various problems pertaining to my research with a galaxy of eminent scholars such as Prof. B.N. Mukherjee, Prof. I. Mahadevan, Prof. A.V. Narasimha Murthy, Prof. B.D. Chattopadhyaya, Prof. Y. Subbarayalu, Dr. T. Sathyamurthy, Dr. R. Krishnamurthy and Prof. Prema Kasturi. I am obliged to all of them.
Several museums, both in India and abroad, have helped by providing me access to their collections and archives. I thank the authorities of all these museums, specially Dr. Rita Sharma of the National Museum, New Delhi; Ms. R. Santhi of the Government Museum, Egmore, Madras; Mr. R. Mohammad of the Government Museum, Pudukkottai; Ms. S. Mangalavathy of the Kalaimagal Kalvi Nilayam Museum, Erode; Prof. Sudharshan Seneviratne of the Department of Archaeology of the University of Peradeniya (Sri Lanka), Mr. Senarath Wickramasinghe of the National Museum, Colombo (Sri Lanka) and Mr. Joe Cribb of the British Museum, London.
Mr. S. Raman of Madras, Mr. A. Sitaraman of Tanjavur, Vidwan 1. Ramasamy of Boluvampatti (near Coimbatore) and several others kindly permitted me to examine and photograph their private col-lections of coins and medals. I owe a word of special thanks to all of them.
I also thank Ms. Usha Kris for doing some of the photography work for this volume.
Finally, any opinions and comments about the book are welcome from the readers.
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