A Splendid Gold Double Dinar of Kushan Emperor Vima Kadphises

One of the standout offerings in the Stack’s Bowers Galleries April 2024 Hong Kong Auction is lot 43203, a wonderful Double Dinar from the Kushan Empire.

Though the Kushans flourished for centuries, a dearth of sources accounts for the notable lack of scholarship and even simple chronology for their empire. Coinciding with the beginning of the Roman Empire to the west, the Kushans spread out from Central Asia with the peripheries of their realm eventually reaching Iran and northern India. The Kushans were evidently a dynasty with roots in the nomadic peoples of Western China. Their strategic location along the ancient Silk Road enabled them to facilitate trade between Imperial Rome and Han China, accumulating considerable wealth and power in the process. However, the Kushans did not impose their culture over the lands they ruled. Instead, they syncretized the customs of their subjects, combining influences from the Greeks, Bactrians, and Indians, among others.

The Double Dinar seen here embodies those facts. The coin’s considerable heft of nearly 16 grams of pure gold showcases the vast wealth which the ruling elite possessed. The enormous spoils of conquest and commerce that would necessitate such a large denomination have no contemporaneous equivalent besides Imperial Rome itself. Additionally, the elaborate designs on the coin itself demonstrate the empire’s syncretic nature. The obverse features legends in Greek surrounding a distinctive half-length portrait of Vima Kadphises, while the reverse legends are rendered in Kharosthi script and surround a depiction of the god Shiva standing before his bull, Nandi. Later rulers would also incorporate Buddhist imagery into their coinage.

This fascinating bilingual issue struck in precious gold is one of many eclectic Asian-related offerings in the upcoming auction. Click here to browse all lots in this session. These lots will be auctioned live beginning April 18 at 10:00 AM HKT (7:00 PM PST).

We are always looking for consignments for future sales, including our Hong Kong and Showcase auctions and our Collectors Choice Online Auctions. If you have a consignment specialist you already work with at Stack’s Bowers Galleries, give them a call or email them to discuss your holdings. Otherwise email [email protected] or call one of our offices to speak to a consignment specialist today.

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