The Coin Pavilion

Hmmmmmm… It is one of my hobbies. Most time that I spend on this hobby is to beg my friends who travel to collect some coins for me. Bangkok has kindled almost dying spirit of the hobby to a greater extent. Our Sunday trip to the Grand Palace has done the magic. The Coin Pavilion is a small but exotic museum for coins inside the Grand Palace. Some coins dates back to the early 11 century A.D. First, I was envious of the collection. Mine was a mere 500 odd coins collection of 39 countries and some of them thrown unceremoniously together due to the lack of space and time. I’ve no rights to be jealous. It is a princely collection and it definitely should not belong to one person. History and knowledge belongs to the world. Wiping off my selfish thought, I took out my notepad to take my notes.

Thai coinage is both fascinating and unique with its bracelet money, pig-mouth money, and bullet coins. They had the influence of both Hindu and Buddhist cultures. The mix is prevalent among the coins. King Rama 1 had chakra, the wheel of knowledge of Buddhism, and King Taskin had Trisul, trident fork which symbolizes Hinduism.

My favorite among them was “Sukhothai” money (13th to 15th Century A.D) – this is also called as “bracelet money”, based on its shape. It is too small to wear it as a bracelet though. This is a bar of silver bent in the form of a bracelet with four or two stamps. The other varieties from Sukhothai period are the Pod Duang money, Kub money, and the Cowrie shells. Pod Duang is a small piece of silver ingot with weights varying considerably according to their sights. It got its name “bullet money” from its shape. Elephants, rachawat, chakara, were inscribed on this money. Kub money is an alloy metal. Cowrie shells from sea were also traded as money but had no fixed value.

The list doesn’t end here. Hoi money or tiger tongue money is a bar of silver. This usually has two or more marks. They have elephant and chakra. A few of them has inscriptions of lotus or bunch of flowers. Lat money is again a bar money produced in different sizes for different denominations. They have inscriptions of elephant or snake. Tok money is colorful – silver mixed with some alloy. The artistic one among them is Pak Chee money or flower money. They resemble closely to sea shells or flowers. This has high percentage of silver and was considered as a higher denomination.

The museum also holds an enormous collection of modern coins too, mainly changing with a new King. This is the best part of my Bangkok visit. Sad that photography wasn’t allowed inside. I forced myself to come out of the place because Elizabeth was waiting outside. I must have looked like a research student for the tourists diligently taking notes 🙂

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