Iconic currencies on display at National Museum
Pint-sized coins, with niggardly transactional value, may now be falling out of circulation but in olden times, these were not only a legal tender but also an instrument for kings across the world to assert their power, establish the sweep of their kingdoms, and advertise their faith and legitimacy.
Some of these coins of exquisite craftsmanship are currently on display as part of a landmark international exhibition, 'India and the World: A History in Nine stories', at National Museum here.
Besides coins, the exhibition also displays some iconic currency notes which reveal loads of information on nation-building, statecraft, and politics of the time.
The nine-gallery exhibition, with one section devoted to coinage, has been jointly mounted by National Museum, New Delhi; the British Museum, London; Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Mumbai; and some 20 private collections. On display are 104 extraordinary works of art from the Indian subcontinent in dialogue with 124 exquisite pieces from the British Museum.
Overall, the exhibition showcases 31 historic coins and 16 currency notes, and a number of them, lent by the British Museum, are on display for the first time in India.
National Museum Director General Dr. B R Mani said the coins and currencies on display are truly historic. "Traditionally, coins are merely viewed as representations of trade and commerce. The exhibition offers the visitors an opportunity to view these coins and banknotes through a political prism though these were also a potent visual language of faiths of kings. With exhibitions like this, museums can rekindle the interest of the current generation in coins and numismatics," he added.
The nearly two-month-long exhibition, which began on May 5, will conclude on June 30.