Ceylon; an Account of the Island Physical, Historical, and eBook

James Emerson Tennent
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 892 pages of information about Ceylon; an Account of the Island Physical, Historical, and.
of Ceylon coins, in the Journ.  As.  Soc.  Beng. iv. 673, vi. 218; CASIE CHITTY, in the Journ. of the Ceylon Asiat.  Soc., 1847, p. 9, has given an account of a hoard of copper coins found at Calpentyn in 1839; and Mr. Justice STARKE, in the same journal, p. 149, has given a resume of the information generally possessed as to the ancient coins of the island.  PRINSEP’s paper on Ceylon Coins will be found in vol. i. of the recent reprint of his Essays on Indian Antiquities, p. 419.  Lond. 1858.]

Hook-money.—­No ancient silver coin has yet been found, but specimens are frequently brought to light of the ridis, pieces of twisted silver wire, which from their being sometimes bent with a considerable curve have been called “Fish-hook money.”  These are occasionally impressed with a legend, and for a time the belief obtained that they were a variety of ring-money peculiar to Ceylon.[1] Of late this error has been corrected; the letters where they occur have been shown to be not Singhalese or Sanskrit, but Persian, and the tokens themselves have been proved to belong to Laristan on the Persian Gulf, from the chief emporium of which, Gambroon, they were brought to Ceylon in the course of Indian commerce; chiefly by the Portuguese, who are stated by VAN CARDAEN to have introduced them in great quantities into Cochin and the ports of Malabar.[2] There they were circulated so freely that an edict of Prakrama enumerates the ridi amongst the coins in which the taxes were assessed on land.[3]

[Footnote 1:  This error may be traced to the French commentator on RIBEYRO’s History of Ceylon, who describes the fish-hook money in use in the kingdom of Kandy, whilst the Portuguese held the low country, as so simple in its form that every man might make it for himself:  “Le Roy de Candy avoit aussi permis a ses peuples de se servir d’une monnoye que chacun peut fabriquer.”—­Ch. x. p. 81.]

[Footnote 2:  “Les larins sont tout-a-fait commodes et necessaires dans les Indes, surtout pour acheter du poivre a Cochin, ou l’on en fait grand etat.”—­Voyage aux Indes Orientales. Amsterdam, A.D. 1716, vol. vi. p. 626.]

[Footnote 3:  Rock-inscription at Dambool, A.D. 1200.  The Rajavali mentions the ridis as in circulation in Ceylon at the period of the arrival of the Portuguese, A.D. 1505.—­P. 278.]

[Illustration:  HOOK MONEY.]

In India they are called larins, and money in imitation of them, struck by the princes of Bijapur and by Sivaji, the founder of the Mahrattas, was in circulation in the Dekkan as late as the seventeenth century.[1]

[Footnote 1:  Prof.  WILSON’S Remarks on Fish-hook Money, Numism.  Chronic. 1854, p. 181.]



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