The Coinage of Jaintiapur: With an Account of the Last Days of the Jaintia Raj

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Item Code: HAJ740
Author: N.G. Rhodes, S.K. Bose
Publisher: Library of Nimismatic Studies, Kolkata
Language: English
Edition: 2010
ISBN: 8190186779
Pages: 118 (Throughout Color and B/W Illustrations with Maps )
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.50 X 7.50 inch
Weight 510 gm
Book Description
About the Author

Nicholas Rhodes was born in London, and has been fascinated by coins since boyhood. He trained as an actuary after studying mathematics at Cambridge University. He has now retired from full-time work in international reinsurance, to spend more time on his academic interests. He is at present Secretary-General of the Oriental Numismatic Society, as well as an active member of other related organisations. He has written and lectured widely in India and the West on the coinage of the Himalayas and North-east India.
S. K. Bose was born in Assam, India. An ex-banker, he was requested by his employer to conduct coin exhibitions at different places in North- east India, titled 'Story of Money This re-fuelled his childhood fascination in history and antiquities, and translated to a passion to study of coins from the region. He is at present Executive Trustee of the Institute of Northeast India Studies, Kolkata and associated with several organisation at the regional and national level devoted to history and numismatics. He has to his credit a number of publications, which include both research papers and books. In his writings, Bose tries to relate the common people to the contemporary economic history.


Jayantia (Jaintia) was one of the major kingdoms in mediaeval Northeast India which succumbed to the British colonial onslaughts in 1835, after having resisted repeated invasions from the Koch, Ahom, Dimasi, Tripuri and the Mughal powers. It was only once that a Jayantia king, Pratap Ray, acknowledged the suzerainty of King Naranarayana of Cooch Behar and on another occasion King Ram Singha of Jayantia temporarily submitted to the authority of the Ahom monarch Rudra Singha. On the eve of British annexation, the Jayantia Kingdom included the Jaintia Hills (Meghalaya), and extended to the river Surma on the south (Sylhet, Bangladesh) and included Gobha Sonapur on the north (Assam), while the capital was at Jayantipur (Jaintiapur) in Sylhet (Bangladesh). The Jaintia hills were predominantly peopled by the Jaintias, the Jayantia plains in the Barak Surma Valley by the Bengalis, and the northern plains (Kamrup-Nagion) by Jaintia, Lalung, Dimasa Kachari and others. The kingdom owed its name to an erstwhile Brahmanical kingdom (named, Jayantia) which emerged in the southern plains after the decline of the Srihattarajya in the 13th century A D., extended from the foothills to the Surma, and remained in existence till its merger with the hill chieftaincy of Sutnga in the 15th century. After the merger, the unified kingdom came to be known as Jayantin (Jaintia) Kingdom. The territory of the Sutnga chief since then came to be known as Jaintia hills and the people of the hills as Jaintias. In their coins and inscriptions, the kings sometimes claimed themselves as 'rulers of Jayantipur (Jayantipurapurandarasya) and in the documents as Jayantipur Raj'.
The ruling family of the unified kingdom belonged to the Jaintia tribe (Pnar or Synteng) which is ethnically kindred of the Khasis and an off shoot of the Austric Mon-Khmer race of Southeast Asia. The polity formation among the Jaintias commenced in the hills with the growth of villages (Chnong) consisting of a number of families belonging to different clans. The guardianship of the families belonging to each clan (kur/jaid) was vested in the eldest maternal uncle (U Kn) due to the matrilineal character of the society, while the adult males in each village elected a headman, called U Waheh Chnong, and a priest, called U Langdoh Chnong. The highest authority in the village was vested in the village council, called Ka Dorbar Chnong The groups of villages then formed a Raid under a Raid council each, called Ka Dorbar Raid, and at the next stage the groups of Raids formed an Elaka, each under a chief, called U Daloi.


The coinage of Jaintia has been somewhat neglected by collectors and scholars over the years. A few of the coins have been quite common, but many collectors have spurned them because of the poor quality of silver, thinking that they may be forgeries. The first serious collector of Jaintia coins in Kolkata was the late Vasant Chowdhury, who built up what was, at the time, the finest collection of the series ever assembled. After his sad death in 2002, his collection of Jaintia coins was bought in its entirety by the prominent Kolkata collector, J.P Goenka, who has continued to add to it with commendable diligence. We are most grateful to Mr. Goenka for kindly allowing us full access to his unrivalled collection of Jaintia coins.
We are also grateful to the many museums, scholars and collectors who have opened their collections to us, and have provided much assistance over the many years that we have been researching this coinage. In particular Mr. Joe Cribb, Keeper of Coins & Medals at the British Museum, London, Dr. Shailendra Bhandare, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford and Dr. Mark Blackburn, Keeper of Coins at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, who allowed us full access to the coins in their custody. Mr. I K.Kejriwal and Mr. N.K.Kejriwal allowed us to photograph coins in their fine collections, as did Dr. N.C.Chowdhury, Mr. N.K.Bothra, Mr. A.Mitra, Mr N.Bhotra, Mr. G.Dalmiya and Mr. I.K.Kathotia. We are thankful to Dr. Amena Passah, who has provide us photographs of Jaintia Lady in traditional costume.
Professor K.K. Basa, Director, Dr. Chhanda Mukherjee, Keeper of Coins and Mr. Tushar Nath Raychaudhuri of Indian Museum, Kolkata, have allowed us to examine a few important Jaintia coins in their custody. We are grateful to them.
We are also most honoured and grateful to Rajkuwari Ira Devi, the last heir to the Jaintia Raj, who gave us certain valuable family documents before her death, in the hope that a book would one day be written about her ancestors. We hope that these few pages will help to place on record, not only the numismatic history of the Jaintia Raj, but also to recall the sad demise, under the British, of a once proud state.
Our thanks to Professor J.B. Bhattacharjee, who has kindly consented to write the Foreword and has made some helpful suggestions.

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