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The carving at Anuradhapura (Fig. No. 160), shows plainly that the thing which he holds is a snake; its scales and head are distinctly visible, though unfortunately the latter is not fully included in my photograph. It passes under his feet both there and on the coin. All the other fat figures on the Anuradhapura guard-stones are nearly similar representations of this deity, but I believe that only in this one is the nature of the snake evident. In nearly all cases he is
there represented standing on it and holding it by one hand. At Maḍukanda wihāra, in the Northern Province, it encircles the body of a personage who may be the same god, and he is carved in a dancing attitude; this appears to render the identity of the deity certain.
The Bow with an arrow may indicate the crescent moon as Sōma. In the Rig Veda, ix, 50, 1, Sōma is prayed, Urge on thine arrow's sharpened point,' and at ix, 90, 3 it is likened to a warrior' with sharpened arms, with swift bow, never vanquished in battle.' If it be not indicative of Sōma, it may be as an emblem of either Indra or Rudra that it is present on the coins. The Sama Veda terms Indra the most excellent handler of the bow-string' (Adhyaya, xiv, 2); while Rudra is called in the Atharva Veda, xi, 2, the Archer with the dark crest,' his symbol being a bow and arrow in Vedic times.
The Circle or bead surmounted by the Crescent is one of the commonest symbols on these early coins. We find it on the corners of the fence or enclosure of the Sacred Tree on the large Sinhalese coin numbered 53, as well as in a similar position on an Indian coin.1 It also appears, reversed, on the stem of the elevated symbol which is cut at the beginning of inscription No. 62. At the side of the inscription left by Nandimitta (No. 47), it is very clearly cut in a form that differs from some of the others, the wings of the crescent ending in broad flat tops, instead of points, while the circle or disk has a smaller
Crookes, op. cit., ii, p. 110.) Hence one of his titles in Tamil is Kéttirapalan, 'Protector of sacred places.'
1 'Notes on some of the Symbols found on the Punch-marked Coins,' by W. Theobald, in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1890, Pp. 181 ff.
one at its centre. It is noteworthy that in this symbol these circles never have rays.
At present I am unable to suggest a satisfactory explanation of it, the last-mentioned example, as well as its position on the fence at the tree, being against its identification either as a combination of the sun and moon, or as an astrological symbol. This design sometimes takes the place of the 'Taurine' emblem on the early coins.
Its place appears to be filled among modern Sinhalese magical diagrams against evil spirits by a design which is repeated constantly in them and round them with or without a longer vertical line, and is called a sula, or torch. It may have been developed from the symbol in question, in which I think it probable that we have the original figure from which the single' trisūla,' with a bead below it, is derived. This, however, still leaves the original signification of the Circle-and-Crescent without a complete explanation, even if it be a form of the 'Taurine' symbol, as is not unlikely.
The figures of two concentric circles, or a disk with an encircling band, round which are arranged six emblems, is most probably not a sun-symbol, but a protective magical diagram, the Axe which is part of it being a well-known magical and auspicious emblem. Even if the object be not an Axe but a Chatta, the magical nature of the design will still remain, as the Chatta itself has magical defensive powers against evil influences. The Mahāvansa (i, p. 121) states that at the laying of the foundation bricks at the Ruwanwaeli dāgaba 'a magical chatta,' was erected in order to prevent the interference of Mara' (death personified).
When the figure of a person was stamped upon the coins it would be appropriately that of a deity who was a noted demon-slayer, such as Skanda with his two wives, or Durgā, or sometimes Lakshmi, the Goddess of Prosperity, against whose influence the evil spirits were powerless.
Some of the other emblems on the early coins can be accounted for in a similar manner. Thus the Pentacle was and is still believed to possess power over evil spirits, and Crosses, Squares, and Circles, and a figure composed of two opposed Triangles
meeting at their apices (? the Double-Axe, or perhaps the small hand drum called in Sinhalese Uḍakkiya) are exceedingly common among Sinhalese magical diagrams which afford protection from sickness, evil spirits, and planets.
Regarding the cause of the insertion of these symbols on the coins various hypotheses have been propounded. Some have supposed them to be mint marks, but the mere number of them sufficiently disproves this notion. Mr. Theobald illustrated three hundred of them, and doubtless there are many others, as we see in even the few specimens from Ceylon.
Sir A. Cunningham stated 1: 'I have a suspicion that several of the symbols may have been the private marks of ancient money-changers. . . . The number of these symbols is so great, nearly three hundred, that their origin was probably due to several different causes.' Mr. V. A. Smith's opinion coincides with that expressed in the first of these sentences.2
For all to be the marks of money-changers it would be necessary to admit that there were persons who earned a living in this manner in the early days when the oldest Purānas were made, and that nearly all the coins which were issued. passed through the hands of some ten or a dozen men or their representatives, one or more of this number of emblems appearing on nearly every coin. It is evident, also, that this theory does not explain the presence of many of the same symbols on the later coins.
Although I also believe that some few of the later symbols on the Purānas may possibly be those of money-changers, I venture to hold that this theory is inapplicable to such early marks as the Sun emblem, the Crescent on the arched structure, the Dog, the Bull, and several others, traces of which are found on even the lightest and most worn examples. The opinion which a study of the symbols has led me to adopt is as follows.
Of the early period at which the first Purānas were issued, there is evidence in the fact that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to explain some of the emblems-such as the Cres
1 Coins of Ancient India, p. 158.
2 Catalogue. Introduction, p. 133.
cent, the Frog, and the River—without the assistance of the Vedas. It is to be found also in the almost entire absence of the Trident of Siva and of the Lingam from the punch-marks; while we see constant indications of the worship of the Sun and Indra, and numerous references to some of the incarnations of Vishnu. The Rakshasas had not become protecting spirits, therefore they were still enemies to be guarded against.
Of Buddhism I cannot discover a trace on the Puranas.1 Every symbol which might be claimed as embodying some allusion to that religion can be shown with greater probability to be of anterior date, according to the evidence of Mr. Theobald's illustrations. There is not a single unmistakable dāgaba on the Purānas, and with the exception of this design, and the three bars of the railing, and the fan-shaped sun-shade of Buddhist mendicants-both of which are also absent-Buddhism merely borrowed pre-existing symbols. Even the two foot-prints which came to represent Buddha are shown in a later chapter to have been known in Egypt as magical diagrams in the fourteenth century B.C.
However much the designs on the early coinage vary in age and character, I have demonstrated that practically all to which an Indian meaning can be assigned possess one of two attributes in common. They have the power either to scare away evil spirits, or to bring prosperity and good-luck. Considering the amount of variation in the marks, this fact is so striking that it suggests at once that it was solely because of these useful qualities that such designs were placed upon the coins. If not, why were only those quadrupeds depicted which possessed these powers? Why not also the tiger, the bear, and the buffalo?
As all sickness of man or beast, all bad luck of any kind, all want of success in trade, all the hurtful results that followed evil magic, and even errors in sacrificial ritual were believed to be due to the malevolent actions of evil spirits, it cannot be doubted that the insertion of symbols which had powers of terrifying them, or counteracting their evil influence, would
1 Unless the supposed plan of a monastery be a Buddhist emblem.
be thought to conduce to the prosperity of the early traders for whose use the coins were issued.
In the period when the Purānas were being made there was probably no state monopoly of coinage, nor even a state issue of money.1 Every person would thus be at liberty to stamp it with his own mark. Thus if a trader had formed an opinion that a particular emblem of this kind was a specially lucky one for him, it may be surmised that he would take care to get it impressed-sometimes destroying an earlier punch-mark by it-on many of the coins which came into his hands. This will account for the presence of some of the best known demon-frightening symbols on almost all the Purānas. Having this bad-luck-preventing and good-luck-bringing money, the traders and all who carried the coins would believe that they would have increased prospects of success in their undertakings. It was at the same time a medium of exchange and a powerful preservative and auspicious amulet.
At a later date in both India and Ceylon, when the coins were issued by state authority, and either cast, or marked by a single die on one face, or two dies, one on each face, some of the same emblems which had proved so effectual in early times were still retained for the reasons which induced the earlier people to impress them.
In the East, and probably everywhere, it was—and still is in most countries-at least quite as necessary to guard one's-self against the malevolence of evil spirits in the affairs of every-day life as to pay worship to the Gods. The amulets of the Neolithic and later Lake Dwellings, the primitive charms of Egypt, the Assyrian writings and carvings, and the Hymns of the Vedas afford abundant proof of this.
The constant use of the emblems of the deities was not intended for the satisfaction of the Gods; this was provided for by the offerings presented to them. The symbols, whether carved or drawn, were thought to be the most effectual guards
1 Mr. V. A. Smith states (Cat. p. 133), 'It is clear that the punchmarked coinage was a private coinage issued by guilds and silversmiths with the permission of the ruling powers.'