A purse for 1000 Gold Coins ?

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…

15 thoughts on “A purse for 1000 Gold Coins ?

  1. ஆஹா ! அந்தக் காசை கையில் தொடும்போது உங்களுக்கு ஏற்பட்ட பரவசத்தை எங்களுக்கும் வார்த்தை வழியே கடத்தியிருக்கிறீர்கள். 1000 பொற்காசு சந்தேகமும் தீர்ந்தது. அருமையான தகவல். அந்தக் காசில் எழுதியிருந்த எழுத்துக்கள் என்ன ?

  2. hi Shri…yes it truly an amazing moment

    @பின்னோக்கி – பரவசம் !! இந்த அருமையான காசின் விளக்க பதிவை விரைவில் இடுகிறேன்…


  3. மன்னரின் சந்​தேகத்​தைத் தீர்ப்பவருக்கு பரிசு ஆயிரம் ​பொற்காசுகள்! எங்களின் மனதில் பல காலமாக இருந்த ஐயத்​தைத் தீர்த்து ​வைத்த நண்பர் விஜய் அவர்களுக்கு ஆயிரம் நன்றிகள்!!!

    நம் ​வேந்தர் ராஜ ராஜ​ ​சோழர் அச்சிட்ட தங்கக் காசு – அத​னை ஸ்பரிசிக்கும் ​தருணம், வாழ்வின் மிக அற்புதமான ​நொடிப் ​பொழுதல்லவா! ​கேட்கும்​போ​தே ​மெய்சிலிர்க்கிறது!


  4. Used to wonder what is “Porkizhi”.. this cute little pot answered it… lucky u to have touched thalaivar’s coin 🙂

  5. The king is considered to be munificent …if he offers wine/toddy to the poet..and pours it till he reaches high…
    Wine and toddy was out of reach of poor poets then…
    This is what i have gleaned while i researched alcohol in Sangam literature.
    The jar was called mattu…
    so porkizhi and mattu deadly combination!

  6. thanks PV – next time you go to chennai – let me know. Will arrange with Raman sir.

    @ Annapoorna – Touch is putting it mildly – ” held with reverence “..cute little pot 🙂

    @ Vairam…Hmm…oru Quarter cutting + kungumachimizhla kosumutta sizela kaasu….


  7. Thoughtful post. Many people wonder how 1000 gold coins as a prize a reality one. And timely explanation you gave. Congrats!

  8. Thanks to Dhivakar sir..this question was posted in one of the forums where he had placed the link.

    “தமிழ் வணிகர்கள் திரைகடல் ஒடித் தங்களின் குறைந்தவிலையில் வாங்கிய பொருட்களை
    வெளிநாடுகளில் அதிக விலைக்கு விற்றுச் செல்வவளம் பெருக்கினர். அச்செல்வதைப்
    பயன்படுத்தி ரோமாபுரி கிரேக்கம் போன்ற நாடுகளில் இருந்து தங்கத்தையும்
    பவளத்தையும் இறக்குமதி செய்தார்கள். இந்தியா பழங்காலத்தில் தங்க நாணயங்களை
    இறக்குமதி செய்தபோது வடபுலத்தில் மன்னரின் உருவத்துடன் காசைப்
    பயன்படுத்தியதாகவும் தமிழகத்தில் அம்மன்னரின் உருவத்தின் மேல் கோடுகிழித்து
    அதன் பின்னரே பயன்படுத்தியதாகவும் குறிப்புள்ளது. இதுபறி கூடுதல் தகவல் உண்டா?

    The reply from Raman sir is: A coin with a King’s face is cut ( there are many such examples in the chennai museum) – this is done when the said king is dead but the coin is still legal tender in the state. meaning the cut was not made for use in India but could have been done in its issue state – and later found its way into India.


  9. முற்றிலும் புதிய செய்தியைப் பகிர்ந்து கொண்டமைக்கு நன்றி. மேலதிகத் தகவல்களுக்கும், இனி வரப்போகும் பதிவுக்கும் காத்திருக்கிறேன்.

  10. Dear Vijay, There is one reference about gold coins prior to Rajarajan and after Tiruvilayadal Puranam. The Poet Kadiyalur Uruthirankannanar who wrote Perumpanatrupadai was awarded 16,00,000 goldcoins by Chola Karikalan. There is only literary evidance and no coins available. And the coin you have seen has some letters around. Did you have any explanations or meaning for them?

  11. dear Vishwaksenan Sir,

    There are reference to Pon/ gold coins – but as of date – the earliest self issued gold coinage by a tamil kind ( found so far) is of Sri Raja Raja Chola period. The general consensus is that prior to that they would have used Roman coins as legal tender.


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