HEPHTHALITE Napki Malka type drachm circa 475-525 AD


HEPHTHALITE, BACTRIA, drachm, no date (circa 475-525 AD), Obverse: Napki Malka type bust with flaming crown, SRIO SHAHO in cursive Greek with “beetle” countermark, Reverse: looks like a wreath around an emptly field, billon, 30mm, 3.92g, MA1494, I showed this coin to several people, all of whom guessed it was a multiple strike of some sort. The “wreath” is poorly struck, apparently nothing is inside. patinated, aVF/aG

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The Napki Malka coins show a fine style and realistic portraits. It is not known if the phrase refers to an actual person or to a regime. The center of their domain was Gandhara, in western Afghanistan, where is found the modern city of Kandahar. An alternative reading of “Napki” is Nezak. Some of the Napki style coins have the legend SRI SHAHO.

The Hephthalites were the eastern component of the people who, in Europe, were called “Huns.” They are sometimes referred to as “White Huns.” Some of the Hephthalite coins of Afghanistan-Pakistan region have the word “HONO” on them. On the other hand, there is a faction amongst the historians who claim that we really have no idea who any of those people were, let alone if they were related to each other. There seems to be a general feeling that the Huns, or the Hephthalites, or the people the Chinese called Xiong Nu, and other scholars called “Chionites,” were more Iranic than Turkic.

The earliest ancient Indian coins were the “bent bar” punchmarked silvers of the Achaemenid Persians occupying Gandhara in northwest Pakistan. By the 3rd century BC coins were in general use in most of India and Ceylon, and in subsequent centuries struck round coins in gold, silver, and copper came into use throughout the subcontinent and beyond to Southeast Asia and Pacific islands to Java and beyond.