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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton IX, Lot: 1165. Estimate $1000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 9 January 2006. 
Sold For $700. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

[Ancient] INDIA, Guptas. Samudragupta. Circa 335-380 AD. AV Dinar (7.72 g, 12h). Ashvamedha type. Sacrificial horse standing left before pedestal with filleted yupa post, from which a banner flutters; "si" on footstool below / The queen, not nimbate, standing left on lotus-form mat, holding chouri (fly whisk) and cloth, suchi (filleted spear) before her. BMC Guptas 56; cf. Altekar pl. III, 6; Bayana 156. Fine. Rare and popular type. ($1000)

An ashvamedha sacrificial ceremony was the grandest religious observance undertaken by the Gupta kings, lasting a full year and involving the entire land and people. The four cardinal virtues accorded the king were tejas (Majesty), indriyam (Power), pashu (Wealth) [probably from the same Indo-European root word as Latin pÉcus, "cattle" = "wealth"] and shri (Prosperity), which were renewed by the ceremony. The horse was symbolically imbued with these virtues, and then left free to roam the land for a year, accompanied by a band of noble guardians. If anyone attempted to molest the horse, or if it wandered into the territory of a rival king, war was immediately declared against the malefactor. Meanwhile, the king undertook rituals and prayers to protect himself and his kingdom during this perilous time (cf. the Lyrist dinar). After the year was up, the horse was lead to the yupa post, where the queen brushed and bathed it, anointed it with oil, and oversaw its sacrifice, along with hundreds of other victims. During the ceremony lavish gifts were presented by the king to the priests and the nobles, probably to include the ashvamedha dinars. By these actions prosperity and glory were restored to the kingdom.