Mint Towns

Mint Towns (Medieval) Immediately after the establishment of Muslim rule in Bengal in 1205 AD, the rulers began to mint coins not only from the capital but also from other towns which assumed administrative and commercial importance. The coins illustrate not only the economy and distribution of the crucial centres of government but also the rise and fall of urban centres. With the expansion of the empire, the number of mint towns increased gradually. A synoptic view of Bengal mint towns in order of their emergence are as follows:

Lakhnauti It is the earliest mint town in Bengal, which lay on the west bank of the Ganges. Literary sources tend to suggest that right with the establishment of Muslim rule in 1205 AD by Ikhtiyaruddin Muhammad bakhtiyar khalji, Lakhnauti emerged as a capital city and had the distinction of being the first mint town as well. But clearly the first coin to be minted there was the silver one of Jalaluddin Razia (1236-1240) dated 634 AH/1236 AD. It continued as a mint town till 1332 AD. It has been variously termed in the coins. In the initial stage, it was written simply Lakhnauti without any epithet. Later on, however, epithets like Khittah, Hazrat, Shah, Qasbah, Iqlim were added.

Sonargaon Situated about twelve miles to the southeast of the city of Dhaka, Sonargaon's career as a mint town started from the time of Sultan shamsuddin firuz shah (1301-1322), who struck his coins from here in 705AH/1305AD and ended with Sultan sikandar shah (1358-1389) in 784 AH/1382 AD. It, however, was dropped from the coins of Sultan gGhiyasuddin azam shah (1389-1410) probably because Muazzamabad (identified with Muazzampur, a few miles away from Sonargaon) was given prominence. About 34 years after this the city was again used as a mint town by jalaluddin muhammad shah (1414-1431). But the subsequent rulers did not follow it. The latest available coin issued from here is dated 824AH/1421 AD. For more than a century, therefore, Sonargaon conitued as a mint town. It was variously termed by the epithets like Hazrat and Hazrat Jalal. It should be mentioned here that Danujmardana deva issued coins from the mint of Suvarnagrama in 1339 Saka Era/820 AH.

Ghiaspur This mint was established by ghiyasuddin bahadur shah (1323-1332), son of Sultan Shamsuddin Firuz (1301-1322) and was named after him. It comes to light through coins dated 722 AH/1322 AD in which it is prefixed by the term arsah or Shahr. The town is identified with a mauza of the same name near Inayetpur, about 25 k.m southwest of the present town of Mymensingh. The identification of the town, however, is not conclusive.

Satgaon Known as Saptagram in the pre-Muslim period, Satgaon, situated about 32 k.m to the north of Calcutta near the junction of the Ganges, Swaraswati and Jamuna, appears as a mint town during the time of Muhammad bin Tughlaq (1325-1351) and the first available coin is dated 729 AH/1328 AD. It has an almost unbroken record of mintage upto 828 AH/1424 AD, exactly a period of one hundred years. It again comes to light as a mint town in 946 AH/1539AD during the time of sher shah (1538-1545) and the last coin issued from here is dated 957AH/1550 AD in the time of Islam Shah (1545-1554). In the coins Satgaon is called an Arsah signifying an administrative unit.

Firuzabad Situated about twenty miles from Lakhnuati (Gaur) and only 20 k.m from the modern town of Maldah, it emerged as a mint town in the reign of alauddin ali shah (1341-42). A coin dated 754 AH/1353 AD first bears the name Firuzabad as its mint, a name that had earlier been given to Pandua after Shamsuddin Firuz Shah. It remained the seat of government during five successive reigns and Gaur again became the capital during the reign of Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah. But Firuzabad continued as a mint town till the time of ruknuddin barbak shah (1459-1474) after which it ceases to operate as a mint till it is brought to light again by Sher Shah whose silver coins minted in this city are dated 947 AH/1541 AD and 948 AH/1542 AD. In the coins Firuzabad is prefixed with various terms like al-baladat al Muazzam, Hazrat and al-baladat al Mahrusah. It is worth mentioning here that Danujamardana Deva and Mahendra Deva issued coins from Pandunagara in 1339 and 1340 Saka Era / 820 and 821 AH respectively.

Shahr-i-Naw It was a mint town of Shamsuddin iliyas shah (1342-1358) and Sikandar Shah after whose time the name disappears from Bengal coinage. The earliest issues from this mint are dated 746 AH /1345 AD and the latest 786 AH /1384 AD. It is prefixed in the coins with the terms al-balad and Arsah. Its proper identification is still a controversial issue. However, a good number of scholars are of the opinion that situated near Gaur and Pandua, Shahr-i-Naw seems to have held only a suburban status. And the fact that only six years before it was used as mint town, Hazrat Pandua had emerged as a capital, leads one to imagine that the 'newness' of Pandua as a capital city was still there, so that Shahr-i-Naw, which etymologically means 'new city', refers to Pandua itself.

Muazzamabad It is identified with Muazzampur, an old village about twelve miles northwest of Sonargaon on the opposite bank of the Brahmaputra. Sikandar Shah might have founded the city and probably it was so called after his own title, Al-Muazzam. His coins dated 760AH/1359 AD first records this mint. After a lapse of more than a century, Sultan Alauddin husain shah (1494-1519) revived its importance as a mint town. The latest available coins issued from this mint are dated 907 AH/1501 AD. The transfer of capital to Lakhnauti and a gradual migration of people from Sonargaon to the new city led to its growth in population and prosperity and finally Iqlim-i-Muazzamabad appropriated to itself the proud title of Hazrat Jalal (ie the presence or seat of Majesty), the earlier discriminative designation of Sonargaon.

Jannatabad It is identified with Lakhnauti. It appears as a mint town only in the coins of Sultan Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah, particularly those of 790 AH/1388 AD and 798 AH/1395 AD. This numismatic testimony falsifies Abul Fazl's view that the name Jannatabad was given to Lakhnauti by Mughal emperor humayun (1530-1540, 1555-1556).

Fathabad Cited in the Persian sources as Mahal Fathabad or Sarkar Fathabad, it has been rightly identified with modern town of Faridpur. Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah founded it. The earliest coins from this mint town are dated 840 AH /1436AD. It continued its status as a mint town throughout the period of independent sultans in Bengal, but for a short interval during the reigns of Ruknuddin Barbak Shah and his son shamsuddin yusuf shah (1476-1480).

Chatgaon It is modern Chittagong and was also named Islamabad by shaista khan (1664-1688). Sultan Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah gave Chatgaon the status of a mint town. The mint was discontinued by his successors but was again revived by Sultan Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah, who issued coins from here from 818 AH/1415 AD to 835 AH/1431 AD. In the coins it is called an Arsah indicating that it served as an administrative unit. It may be mentioned here that Danujmardana Deva issued coins from the mint of Chatigrama, obviously the same place, in 1339 Saka Era/820 AH. His son, Mahendra Deva issued coins from the same mint in 1340 Saka Era/821 AH.

Rotaspur Only one coin of Sultan Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah, dated 827 AH/1423 AD has so far been discovered bearing the mint name Rotaspur. Its identification is very difficult due to paucity of information. Its identification with Rohtasgrh in Bihar is uncertain.

Mahmudabad Apparently it got its name from Sultan nasiruddin mahmud shah (1436-1459) who first minted coins here in 858 AH/1454 AD. The mint is dropped in the issues of subsequent sultans and again appears in the coins of Saifuddin Firuz Shah (1482-1490) and Nasiruddin nusrat shah (1519-1532). The identification of the town is still doubtful. It may be identified with Mahal Mahmudabad within Sarkar Mahmudabad of the ain-i-akbari, which comprised northeastern Nadia, northeastern Jessore and western Faridpur.

Barbakaabad The mint of Barbakabad was founded by Sultan Ruknuddin Barbak Shah and was named after him. It may be identified with Mahisontosh in the district of West Dinajpur of West Bengal. The earliest available coins from this mint is dated 864 AH/1459 AD. Coins were issued from this mint by two other sultans, Shamsuddin Muzaffar Shah (1491-1494) and Nasiruddin Nusrat Shah, the latest known date being 928 AH/1521 AD.

Muzaffarabad It appears as a mint town only during the time of Sultan Ruknuddin Barbak Shah and the only known date on the coin of this mint is 867 AH/1462 AD. The town is identified with a place in the neighbourhood of Pandua and also with Bazu Zafar Shahi in Sarkar Ghoraghat of the Ain-i-Akbari.

Muhammadabad The mint town bearing this name is yet to be identified. It comes to light in a coin dated 887 AH, which falls in the reign of jalaluddin fath shah (1481-1487). It continued as a mint town during all the sultans of the Husain Shahi dynasty. The last available coin from this mint is dated in 934 AH /1527 AD.

Husaynabad The existence of three Husaynabads is known from inscriptions: one in the district of 24 Parganas, the second in Murshidabad and the third in Malda district, near Lakhnauti. The mint Husaynabad may reasonably be identified with one near Lakhnauti. It was established by Sultan Husain Shah and was named after him. The city had the honour of being a mint town from 899 AH /1494 AD to 952 AH/1545 AD.

Chandrabad This mint town comes to light through an undated coin belonging to Sultan Husain Shah. It may be identified with Chandpur in Murshidabad district, a place with which Husain Shah had association in his early life.

Nusratabad The mint was founded by Sultan Nasiruddin Nusrat Shah and was named after him. It first appears in a coin dated 861 AH/1457 AD of Sultan Nasiruddin Mahmud Shah and the last two Husain Shahi rulers, Nasiruddin Nusrat Shah and Ghiyasuddin Mahmud Shah used this town as their mint. The last coin of this mint is dated 933 AH/1526 AD. It has been identified with Mahal Nusratabad in Sarkar Ghoraghat, which comprised portions of Dinajpur, Rangpur and Bogra districts.

Khalifatabad The town is identified with modern Bagerhat. It emerged as a mint town in 922 AH/1516 AD when Nasiruddin Nusrat Shah (1519-1532) issued coins from here. It is worth mentioning here that Nusrat Shah enjoyed the privilege of minting coins in his own name during the lifetime of his father. It continued to enjoy the position of a mint town during the reign of Ghiyasuddin Mahmud Shah whose last coin from this town bears the date 942 AH /1535 AD.

Khalifatabad-Badarpur It is a suburb, now lost, near Khalifatabad, ie Bagerhat which comes to light as a mint town on a coin dated 941 AH/1534 AD belonging to Sultan Ghiyasuddin Mahmud Shah. In fact, the sultan simply added the word Badarpur, after his own name Abd-al-Badar to the existing name of Khalifatabad.

Sharifabad It was situated to the extreme southwest of Birbhum of West Bengal, a few kilimetre from the sea. Sher Shah and Islam Shah used it as a mint town. The earliest of their coins is dated 946 AH/1539 AD and the latest 953 AH/1546 AD.

Tandah Fifteen miles southeast of Malda, it was situated just at the point where the Ganges in the sixteenth century separated into two branches. sulaiman karrani (1563-1572) made it his capital in 972 AH/1565 AD, a status which it could retain upto the time of Mansingh (1594 AD). It came to light as a mint town during the reign of daud khan karrani (1573-1576) in 980 AH/1573 AD and remained so up to 984 AH/1576 AD.

The names of some other mints, such as Chaulistan/Awalistan i.e. Kamru, Bang, Arakan etc are also available in the coins. But these were not mint towns, rather they represented geo-political units conquered by the Muslims from time to time. Moreover, one should not fail to notice that the sultans often changed the names of their capitals, eg Husaynabad and Nusratabad are changed names of Lakhnauti, and Jannatabad was obviously an epithet of the same city. Similarly Shahr-i-Naw was in all probability a suburb of either Lakhnauti or Pandua. [Md Akhtaruzzaman]

Bibliography Abdul Karim, Corpus of the Muslim Coins of Bengal (Down to AD 1538), Dhaka, 1960.