All of us grew up hearing Dharumi Aka Nagesh rant on hearing the prize for clarifying the King’s doubt - a princely purse of 1000 gold coins. But then you sit back to think, if it is indeed possible to have such a pricey gift for a poem. If so even today’s star song writers salaries and IPL cricketers deals pale in comparison. A gold coin even at its relative price 1000 years ago is still a staggering reward and a 1000 of them…make you gape and question if the reward too has suffered from poetic license - over hyped a la Asetrix vs the Romans for a few more Sestertius. A cauldron filled with such gold Sestertius for Caser could make a good cartoon cover but was it a theoretical if not practical possibility.
Maybe when the greatness of the Tamil land was at its peak - when the Chola land reaped the rewards of a bountiful Kaveri and under a remarkable ruler - Sri Raja Raja, would the State that for the first time had it within its means to mint its own Gold coinage ( till then Roman coins were still in vogue when it came to the yellow metal !), would it be possible for it to gift a thousand Gold coins ?
I am sure lot of you would have the above doubt. So when i had a chance to meet up with renowned numismatic expert Sri Raman, the first question was ofcourse : Can i see a Raja Raja Gold coin.
Not only had he on his person the Gold coin, he also had with him a couple of weird looking pots. They reminded me of the eco friendly earthen pots of Lallu in which hot Tea was served when the trains passed Bihar, but these were solid metal contraptions with a swinging lid held in place by a cute hinge. The term for this is Porkizhi or container for Gold coins.
it was then the realisation dawned that this container could be the gift that a poet would get. But seriously this was small and how many coins could fill the insides of this simple urn.
That’s when we ventured further into the coin.
No Surprise he not only had me SEE the coin but also HOLD it ! After the initial enthusiasm of the event died down, did the realisation hit that it was so small and light.
They were actually wafer thin but brilliant still. Now, we know the truth about the 1000 coin purse…
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