The mountainous region of Central Asia comprising the eastern parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan and northwest India has always known war. Even now, the area, high in the Hindu Kush Mountains, proves difficult to hold; none of the three nations can exercise any lasting authority in these ancient tribal lands.
In the sixth century C.E., the place was known as Gondhara, and nominally controlled by the Huns—a people famed for being great horsemen and even greater warriors. Some 200 years later, Gondhara was ruled by a succession of kings called the Hindu Shahi.
It was the Hindu Shahi kings who first minted these silver coins—a simple and elegant representation of the diversity of the region. On one side is the soldier on horseback; on the reverse, the bull that is so sacred to the Hindus.
Although Muslims and Hindus clashed for centuries over the lands, they agreed on one point: this is a beautiful coin, perfectly capturing the history and diversity of the region. Variations on this prototype were used by both Muslim and Hindu rulers for centuries afterward.
This bull and horse design was used as a template by both Muslim and Hindu rulers for over six centuries. First minted by the Shahi kings ca. 650 C.E., Balban the Great, the Sultan of Delhi, was issuing similar designs as late as 1287. The names and denominations of this remarkably long- lived coin series were lost to history. As a group they are known today as jitals. These earliest silver Shahi jitals were crudely hand struck of 2.9 to 3.3 grams of high grade silver, averaging 17-18.5 mm diameter.
Data: Album open measures: 11” x 7.5” Album folded measures: 5.5” x 7.5”
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