The ancient Pandya country comprised what we know today as Madurai, Dindigul, Theni, Sivagangai, Virudhunagar, Ramanathapuram, Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli, Nagercoil, a few parts of Karur and Pudukkottai. Many rulers and dynasties held sway over these regions and while their influences can be seen even today in art, architecture and literature of Tamil Nadu, one man observed something unique — coinage.
Abdul Rasul, Delivery Head in an IT company, noticed how the coins bear legends of the glorious history of the Pandya kings in myriad languages — Tamil, Arabic, Persian, Telugu, to name a few. In order to share this with the public, he will be conducting a talk on Saturday, about the little-known aspects of these coins and their role in reconstruction or re-telling our history.
His love affair with not only coins, but stamps also, began when he was just a little boy. “My father worked abroad and when letters from him would arrive, the stamps would fascinate me. At the same time, whenever he would come back home, he’d have coins of different currencies with him so he would collect and hand them over to me,” says Abdul, who today holds a Guinness World Record for possessing the largest collection of stamps featuring mosques.
Abdul Rasul, Numismatist and philatelist
While he’ll be giving the attendees of the lecture a brief about his background, he tells us the focus will be on informing people about the forgotten Pandya period. “Many rulers served as kings during the Sangam period. Each one deduced certain types of coins, for example, the Vanathirayars had a garuda (eagle) inscribed because they were devotees of Perumal (Vishnu),” explains Abdul. Some other symbols to follow were fish, bow and arrows and bulls. He adds, “Elephants meant power so this was also one of the most popular symbols for the Pandyas, Cholas and Cheras.”
Abdul says, “We know which period these coins belong to, because the year they were made in is mentioned on them.” However, this too is specific only to Islamic rulers as others didn’t forge the year. “We even know of an Islamic king who ruled only for 40 days because it was mentioned!” he smiles.
At the talk, he’ll be touching upon converting from Hijri (era used in the Islamic lunar calendar) to Gregorian years with a simple formula so it’s easy for historians to understand dates better. To attend and learn more about coin-collecting as a hobby and how to maintain these precious pieces of history, visit Arkay Convention Center (ACC), OMS Lakshana, 146/3 R.H.Road, Mylapore, tomorrow between 5.30 and 7.30 pm.