Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Indomitable Umaiyan

I was involved in writing a big article on the Marudhu Brothers
of Sivaganggai. It also involved the history of UmaiDurai alias Umaiyan of
Panchalankurichi. People only remember him as the younger brother of

While I was writing it, I came to realise that the motives and
the abilities of Umaiyan were far more complex and far-reaching and
unless I wrote in detail, the real insight into the personalty of Umaiyan
would be lost forever.

Unfortunately, Umaiyan is one of the historical figures who got
outshone by the lustre cast on the others around him. He rather got
pushed inside the shadows of people who were actually lesser than the
calibre of Umaiyan.

Historians have not done due justice to Umaiyan.

People dont realise that he was a prime mover of the pawns
and that he commanded a greater degree of respect and had built up
a network which extended right upto the Maratha territories and involved
such historical figures like Doondaji Waug, Tippu Sultan, and others.

If Napoleon had won in the war in Egypt, things would have been
different. And if the French army from Java had managed to reach
Tamilnadu, the dreams of Umaiyan and Chinna Marudhu would been

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

PreDecimal Indian Coins

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

PreDecimal Coins of India

In the olden days, India was made up of many countries.
On and off, there were several empires which would group together these countries under their folds. But usually there would be more than three empires at any one time; except on two occasions - during the rules of Asoka, Mohammed bin Tughlaq, and Aurangazeb.
When the British came to India and started to become land-holders, there were more than two thousand countries.
By conquest, and by the Law of Lapse, they took over most of these countries until 1870's when Queen Victoria became the Empress of India.
When the British gave independance to India, there were 562 Native States in addition to the British Presidencies.
During the course of the rule of the British Empire, the British standardised the coinage. Some of the Native States had been given special privileges to issue their own coins. But the British Indian coinage was currency in all parts of India.

While standardising, they did away with many of the coinage which were in existance at that time.
From 1870 onwards, the coinage remained more or less the same, while accommodating some minor alterations. During this period until 1947, a few of the coins were abolished. Due to changes in the economical condition of the British Empire, and the demands on metal made by the two World Wars, the coins were debased to a considerable degree. Some of the coins which were 97 percent silver became debased to have a lesser silver content.
Let us see those coins and how much they were worth.

This system of coinage was later known as the 'Rupee - Anna - Paisa' system.
It was based on the Rupee and its fractions.

The Rupee was a silver coin which was made up of 16 annas.
1 anna had 3 thuttus.
A thuttu was originally known as a Pice.
1 pice had 4 salli or thambidi.
A thambidi was originally known as 1/12 anna.

The coinage was based on these denominations.

1. The smallest was therefore the thambidi alias salli.
4 of them made 1 thuttu
12 of them made 1 anna.
There were 192 thambidis in 1 rupee.

2. 1/2 thuttu which was equal to two thambidis
This was one of coins to abolished early

3. 1/4 anna which was otherwise known as mukkaa thuttu or 3/4 thuttu

4. 1 thuttu = 4 thambidis
This was also abolished early.

The above coins were copper coins.

5. half anna = 6 thambidis

This was originally a copper coin but was replaced later by a small coin of nickel copper alloy.

6. 1 anna = 12 thambidis

7. 2 annas

These were nickel/copper alloy coins.

After this was the silver coinage series.

8. 1/8 rupee. This was also known as one Panam or Fanam. This is actually equal to 2 annas. After the First World War, this was abolished.

9. 1/4 rupee = 4 annas

10. 1/2 rupee = 8 annas

11. 1 rupee

After the Silver Series, was the Gold Series.

A Sovereign or English Pound was equal to 3.5 Silver Rupees.

A Varahan was also equal to 3.5 rupees. This coin went out of use a very long time ago. But still merchants were paying salaries based on the varahan until 1950.

A Mohur. This was a Mughal coin.

A Pagoda - This was a British East India Company coin.

Let us see the coins in the Obverse and the Reverse.

The Sixty-Four Arts of the Ancient Indians

The sixty-four activities in fine arts and crafts are the following:

(1) gIta - art of singing.

(2) vAdya - art of playing on musical instruments.

(3) nAtya - art of dancing.

(4) nauya - art of theatricals.

(5) AlEkhya - art of painting.

(6) vichEnyaka chedya - art of painting the face and body with colored unguents and cosmetics.

(7) Art of preparing offerings from rice and flowers.

[8] Art of making a covering of flowers for a bed.

(9) dacana-vasanaiga-rAga - art of applying preparations for cleansing the teeth, cloths and painting the body.

(10) maei-bhUmika-karma - art of making the groundwork of jewels.

(11) cayyA-racana - art of covering the bed.

(12) udaka-vAdya - art of playing on music in water.

(13) udaka-ghAta - art of splashing with water.

(14) citra-yoga - art of practically applying an admixture of colors.

(15) mAlya-grathana-vikalpa - art of designing a preparation of wreaths.

(16) Art of practically setting the coronet on the head.

(17) nepathya-yoga - art of practically dressing in the tiring room.

(18) karnapatra-bhaiga - art of decorating the tragus of the ear.

(19) sugandha-yukti - art of practical application of aromatics.

(20) Art of applying or setting ornaments.

(21) aindra-jAla - art of conjuring

(22) kaucumAra - a kind of art.

(23) hasta-lAghava - art of sleight of hand.

(24) citra-cAkApUpa-bhaknya-vikAra-kriyA - art of preparing varieties of salad, bread, cake and delicious food.

(25) pAnaka-rasa-rAgAsava-yojana - art of practically preparing palatable drinks and tinging draughts with red color.

(26) sUca-vAya-karma - art of needleworks and weaving.

(27) sUtra-kriyA - art of playing with thread.

(28) vEyA yamuraka-vAdya - art of playing on lute and small x-shaped drum.

(29) prahelika - art of making and solving riddles.

(29-a) pratimAlA - art of caping or reciting verse for verse as a trial for memory or skill.

(30) durvacaka-yoga - art of practicing language difficult to be answered by others.

(31) pustaka-vAcana - art of reading books aloud.

(32) nAdikAkhyAyikA-darsana - art of enacting short plays and anecdotes.

(33) kAvya-samasyA-pUraya - art of solving enigmatic verses.

(34) Art of designing preparation of shield, cane and arrows.

(35) tarku-karma - art of spinning by spindle.

(36) Art of carpentry.

(37) vAstu-vidyA - art of engineering.

(38) raupya-ratna-parIksha - art of testing silver and jewels.

(39) dhAtu-vAda - art of metallurgy.

(40) maNi-rAga jnyana - art of tinging jewels.

(41) Akara jnyAna - art of mineralogy.

(42) Art of practicing medicine or medical treatment, by herbs.

(43) Art of knowing the mode of fighting of lambs, cocks and birds.

(44) Art of maintaining or knowing conversation between male and female cockatoos.

(45) utsAdana - Art of healing or cleaning a person with perfumes.

(46) kEsa-mArjana-kaucala - art of combing hair.

(47) Art of talking with letters and fingers.

(48) mlecchita-kutarka-vikalpa - art of fabricating barbarous or foreign sophistry.

(49) desa-bhAshya-jnyAa - art of knowing provincial dialects.

(50) pushpa-chakatikA-nirmiti-jnyAna - art of knowing prediction by heavenly voice or knowing preparation of toy carts by flowers.

(51) yantra-mAtrakA - art of mechanics.

(52) dhAraNa-mAtrakA - art of the use of amulets.

(53) samvAcya - art of conversation.

(54) mAnasa kAvya-kriyA - art of composing verse mentally.

(55) kriyA-vikalpa - art of designing a literary work or a medical remedy.

(56) chalitaka-yoga - art of practicing as a builder of shrines called after him.

(57) abhidhAna-kosa-cchando-jnyAna - art of the use of lexicography and meters.

(58) vastra-gopana - art of concealment of cloths.

(59) dyUta-vicenya - art of knowing specific gambling.

(60) AkarshNa-kriyA - art of playing with dice or magnet.

(61) bAlaka-kriyanaka - art of using children’s toys.

(62) vainAyika vidyA - art of enforcing discipline.

(63) vaijayika vidyA - art of gaining victory.

(64) vaitAlika vidyA - art of awakening master with music at dawn.