Monkey seated right, holding a round object / Blank (?). 11mm, 0.40 grams. Mitchiner ACW -; Gobl -. SKU T756-52227
This coins is a part of an enigmatic series of anonymous square and round bronzes depicting various animals - coins with a bull, lion, rabbit, scopion, duck, peacock and monkey (and possibly some other animals are known). Coins depicting a monkey seated, holding an uncertain round object, are extremely rare, with only 2 or 3 coins known to date. Interestingly, monkeys were almost never depicted on ancient coins of any kind - the only other coin with a monkey I've seen was a small Greek silver fraction. This actual coin is much nicer than the scan. The Kashmir Smast caves are a series of natural limestone caves, artificially expanded from the Kushan to the Shahi periods, situated in the Babozai mountains in the Mardan Valley in Northern Pakistan. According to recent scholarship based on a rare series of bronze coins and artifacts found in the region, the caves and their adjacent valley probably comprised a sovereign kingdom in Gandhara which maintained at least partial independence for almost 500 years, from c. 4th century AD to the 9th century AD. For most of its history, it was ruled by White Hun (or Hephthalite) governors or princes. Scholars contend that the bronze currency found in the region were issued by local semi-independent governors, or Tegins, in the Kashmir Smast valley, paying allegiance to the greater Hunnic Tegins of Gandhara and Bactria. The feudal and tribal nature of the ancient Central Asian states allowed for substantial independence to be exercised by local governors. It is worth noting that all the new varieties found in this area are small bronze pieces, varying in weight between 0.5 and 1.1 g. (referred to as the Kashmir Smast standard). They are occasionally small versions of more common drachms circulating in the region, or feature entirely new portraits / images with some or no resemblance to commonly circulating coins of the period. Given the fact that these pieces have not been found elsewhere in Hunnic domains, we can infer that they were not considered acceptable currency outside of the Kashmir Smast region. However, imitating the coins of the contemporary rulers of Gandhara, and employing certain of their dynastic symbols and portraits, alongside a totally new set of portraits, names / titles, and symbols, may indicate that while they were issued independently for use in the local kingdom, the local rulers must have paid homage to and acknowledged their Hunnic overlords. The fact that they were allowed to use some of their own tamghas and titles and that the greater chiefs gave them the privilege of minting their own currency strengthens this argument. The minting of coins was a prerogative of the rulers, and carried with it a certain degree of governing authority. The fact that such independent issues continued throughout five separate dynasties, until the Hindu Shahi period, means that to a degree this principality maintained its status for perhaps as long as three to four hundred years.