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Research Coins: Printed Auction


Extremely Rare Ahuramazda
Sole Creator God of Zoroastrianism

Triton XXII, Lot: 473. Estimate $20000.
Sold for $27500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

INDIA, Kushan Empire. Huvishka. Circa AD 151-190. AV Dinar (20mm, 8.01 g, 12h). Subsidiary mint in Gandhara (Peshawar?). Early phase. ÞαO(retrograde h)α(retrograde h)OÞαO O(retrograde h)ÞKI KOÞα(retrograde h)O, diademed and crowned half-length bust left on clouds or mountain, holding mace-scepter and goad / ωPOM down right, Oromzdo (Ahuramazda) standing left, extending right hand and holding scepter in left; tamgha to left. MK 333/1 (O1α/R1) = Cribb & Bracey E.G2iii = FdS 154 illustration = Rosenfield 182 illustration = BM Inv. 1879,0501.10; ANS Kushan –, but cf. 764-5 (for obv.); Donum Burns 287; Zeno –; CNG 102, lot 713 (same dies). Near EF, obverse struck with typical worn die, a couple of light scratches on reverse. Only the second to appear at auction.

One of the rarest reverse types in all of Kushan coinage, Ahuramazda (ahura [lord or mighty] and mazda [spirit or intelligence]) was the sole creator of heaven and earth and all life, and the supreme deity in the Zoroastrian pantheon. As the creator and upholder of the concept of asha (truth or right[eousness]), Ahuramazda was the supporter and guardian of justice and ally of the just man. As such, he became the protective divinity of the Achaemenids and the rulers of Persis (where he is depicted as a profile bust set into a quasi-Egyptian winged solar disk), as well as the Sasanian kings, who included him in the obverse legend of their coins (mzd’ysn [the Mazda worshipper]). Beginning with the Achaemenids, Ahuramazda became associated with the god Mithra and the goddess Anahita. While Mithra (as Miiro and Mioro) and Anahita (as Ardoxsho) were regularly incorporated into the pantheon of Kushan deities depicted on their coinage, the appearance of Ahuramazda on Kushan coins is rare. Given his hieratic importance, one might expect him to appear more frequently, given his connection to royalty. It is possible, however, that the Kushans were hesitant to include the supreme god on such a secular object as coinage (the same hesitancy occurred with issues of the Buddha), where, as John H. Rosenfield noted (p.83) “less exalted elements of the pantheon would be more congenial.”