Shah Jahan’s Passion for Masterpieces

Shah Jahan’s TajMahal is already doing a hot round in media to get the votes to be in the list of ‘new seven wonders’ through SMSs and e-mails. The news of another masterpiece from Shah Jahan was exhilarating. Perhaps, He was one emperor who had a passion to create something unique for the posterity to become immortal. Taj Mahal, Lal Killa (Red Fort), Jama Masjid, and many other things such as the lost Takhat-e- toush and Kohinoor through which the people will keep on remembering Shah Jahan for years to come even today.

As per a media report, Emperor Shah Jahan got created another masterpiece, a 1.1 kg coin as large as a quarter plate, made of solid gold. It is now the property of the University of Mumbai courtesy stockbroker Dinesh Mody. Mody is donating this coin and 25,000 other heritage coins, currency notes, seals and medals from countries all over the world to the university for use in its new master’s degree in numismatics and archaeology.

The Shah Jahan coin dates back to the era between 1628 and 1658. In the 1980s, it was auctioned in London, when Mody bought it for a small fortune. But it carries a fascinating tale.

According to the story, the massive coin was issued to placate the Khalifa, the head of the Muslim sect. Islamic kings were forbidden from issuing coins with Kalima (aayat from the Koran) or images of humans or other living beings. However, Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan frequently issued coins engraved with birds, animals and their own visages. When the Khalifa, who migrated from Baghdad to Morocco, learnt of this practice, he sent out a stern warning to Shah Jahan that if he continued in this vainglorious manner, he would be excommunicated.

Dilip Rajgor, a scholar and the author of several books on numismatics, says ”He (Shah Jahan) not eat for a day and then one of his advisors came up with a solution, which was to mint a large coin from pure gold and call it Shahenshah.” The coin was sent to the Khalifa with a message that read, ”the Shahenshah (Emperor) is at your feet asking for forgiveness”. On it was inscribed in Persian, ”There is only one God, and he is Allah, and Mohammed is his Prophet.”

The Khalifa’s daughter, who married an Afghan prince, took this coin with her. The couple’s daughter married the prince of Bahawalpur and the coin was sent with her as dowry.

Will the diamonds possessed by Mayawati be one day a similar object of history for the posterity?

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