Art historical studies have hitherto been mostly confined to sculptures, paintings, furniture and jewellery. Boldly moving away from the conventional approach to the study of coins as mere economic entities, the present volume is the first systematic, comprehensive and analytical study of ancient Indian coins as objects of art. Coins, like historical monuments, sculptures and paintings, have a symbolic meaning behind the visual form and epitomise the socio-religious conditions and the art traditions in which they emerged. Focusing on the coins of south India, the study, combining empirical data with theoretical insights, explores the subtle interrelationships between the steady evolution of coinage and the simultaneous development of art in this region. Tracing thematic, iconographic and stylistic affinities between the art in coins and the art in stone, the study clearly reveals that as sculptural art was more pervasive than numismatic art, the latter recurrently felt the impact of the former. Often, the mint masters and coin makers, faithfully reproduced, on a miniature scale, specimens of sculpture and architecture on the coins. At the same time, coins too were rarely featured in other mediums of art. Probing the metallic composition and the process of production of the coins of different dynasties and periods, the present study also analyses the technical constraints of numismatic art. The volume includes an exhaustive corpus, prepared for the first time ever, of the symbols and devices on the coins of the major dynasties of ancient south India. The book will be of interest to archaeologists, numismatists, art historians and economic historians.
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