Early Pyu & Mon Kingdoms

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Many of the attributions below have been revised in A HISTORY AND COIANGE OF SOUTH EAST ASIA until the 15th Dr. M. Mitchiner. I have not had time to incorporate new information, but coins shown are available in stock.



   We are only beginning to make sense of the early indigenous mainland Southeast Asian coin series. The prototype issue, a silver Conch/Temple piece of �9.5g, probably originated ca. 450 AD in Pegu (southern Burma), its symbolism clearly derived from south Indian coinage. It served as model for several later series with �9.5g units, including that of Dvaravati, the first series minted entirely in what is now Thailand. Wicks notes findspots in central Thailand for all types below. Coinage in the region died with the conquest of Dvaravati and the Pyu of Burma ca 800 AD, to be revived only some 500 years later by the more exotic "coinage" of the Thai of Lannathai and Sukothai. As there have been many discoveries since Mitchiner's Non-Islamic (M) was published, I have listed this series by Wicks' article "Ancient Coinage from Thailand and Burma" This was to be published in expanded book form under the same title, but as of 10/01 I have not been able to learn whether this will happen. I have modified Wicks' basic listing to include varieties and fractionals. Also useful for fractionals is Mitchiner's "Four More Hoards of Early South-east Asian Symbolic Coins" (abbreviated "M4M") Num. Chron v.148, 1988.

Mons of Pegu (Southern Burma) ca.450? AD W1 Silver Unit (�9-10g, 23-25m, .997 fine) Conch & circle of beads, R: "Srivatsa" Temple, ankus? inside, pellets (hollow or solid) below, moon (crescent), circle-sun, or rayed-sun variously rt. or l. above. Prototype for entire "symbolic" series. None in stock.

Pyus of Sriksetra (Central Burma)
VF or better, but coated with black tar (from saltwater immersion) 95.00

--> Wicks26    1/100? Unit Throne, R: Temple, simple designs 10m, .12g (2 varieties $30) M2629 crude VF 17.50

Wicks27    Similar, Throne (smaller), uniface Vg $4 SOLD; crude VF 17.50 SOLD

Unattributed Fractionals
Wicks27M    1/250? Unit Cross or flower petal: perhaps a degenerate Temple? Avg. .03g, 7m. Tiny coin! Unpublished. VF 15.00

Wicks27P    - 1/25? Unit Temple (as W26), R: Ankus. Average .31g for 10 pcs, though rough flans indicate metal loss, so could be 1/25 of a Pegu Unit "MB2586" M4M pl.40 #7. Mitchiner SEAsia #531 Ankus side always weak, crude flans Vg-F 50.00

THE MARITIME EMPIRES (Beads and Beanlike coins)

   Long before the Thai moved southward from their original home in China, the lucrative sea trade between the South China Sea and the Bay of Bengal created powerful maritime empires such as Sailendra-Srivijaya and Majopahit, which controlled coastal areas of modern Indonesia, Burma, Malaya, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. In an era before coined money was widely used, Indo-Pacific beads were made first at a site called Aakmidu in South India ca. 200 BC. The manufacture then moved in sequence to Ceylon, South Thailand, Java and finally Malaya. By about 1200-1300 AD the larger Majopahit beads, excavated today in the interior of Java, had supplanted it. Since these factory sites have been dated, archaeologists now use the beads to date sites, though whether beads rose to the level of metals, salt, cloth, and cowries as "standard" trade goods is uncertain.    The first indigenous metallic coinage in the region, ca. 750-850 AD, comes from the Javanese kingdom of Sailendra (Chinese: Ho-ling). These roughly dome-shaped silver of irregular weight bore stamps of a flowing vase, and the sandalwood flower (quatefoil). By 850 AD weights had been standardized at 20 rattis to a Massa of about 2.4 grams. Silver and gold coins of Massa and fractional denominations were issued until about 1300 AD, with changes in shape and quality of inscription marking periods of issue. The gold Piloncitos of the Philippines are a late offshoot of the gold coinage, while the beanlike silver "namo" series, of the Malay isthmus was presumably an offshoot of the silver and may have evolved into the bullet (pod-duang) coinage of Sukothai. I have referenced the coinage to Wicks' Money, Markets, and Trade in Early Southeast Asia (WM) because of his attention to shape in the evolution of the coinage, although the relationship of gold to silver coinage is better demonstrated in Mitchiner's later work The History and Coinage of South East Asia until the 15th Century which is cross-referenced along with Millies' 1871 work.

1030   Indo-Pacific Beads, ca. 1200AD   The major trade bead of the Srivijaya and Majopahit Empires, it still serves as a store of wealth in Timor, Flores & Sumba, called Mutisalah ("False pearls"). Used by archaeologists to date sites throughout S.E. Asia.    Strand (27cm looped) of small (2-3mm) brick-red clay, about 225 beads/strand. Rough & irregular shape.    18.50

WM8.3a   Sailendra: Early Period c. 800-950 AD SILVER Massa Sandalwood Flower incuse, R: Nagari Ma for Massa   Flan flat, thick& irregular     2.25-2.4gm, 10m   Wiicks (p.249) Class D, M724-725, Millies 13-19   Vg 20.00
WM8.3b   1/2 Massa, .97-1.09gm, 7-8m Scarce.    Vg-F 25.00 SOLD
WM8.3c   1/4 Massa, .43-.61gm = Kupang   Vg 16.50
WM8.3d   1/8 Massa, .28-.35gm    SOLD
WM8.3L   Massa, low weight (1.39-1.84gm) & porous, possibly contemporary counterfeits, or a regional issue.   Vg-F 17.50
W100-102    GOLD Massa, 1/2, and 1/4, sometimes called 24, 12, and 6 Krisnalas. The early, fine-style series with clear Devnagari Ja or Ta (Wicks Class A) and incuse Lingham reverse belongs with this period, according to Mitchiner (#722-23)   Not too scarce, but none presently in stock.

WM8.4a   Middle Period c. 950-1150 AD SILVER Massa Sandalwood Flower incuse, R: Nagari Ma    Flan concave, thinner, broader & rounded; Ma cruder    about 2.07-2.54 gm, 13-14m   Wiicks (p.255) Class E, M730-731, Millies 21-22   VF 22.50
WM8.4b   1/2 Massa, .82-1.08gm, 9-11m broader than early period and slightly dished Scarce.    Vg-F 25.00
WM8.4c   1/4 Massa, ..47-.56gm, 7.5-8.5m broader than early period and slightly dished Scarce.    F-VF 25.00
W106-112    GOLD Massa, 1/2, and 1/4,    Mitchiner (#726-729) does not distinguish varieties within this period, while Wicks (p.289) makes a useful distinction between rounded ("conelike") pieces of good style with crescents reverse (Class D), and pieces with "parallel plier marks or grooves" reverse which he does not otherwise distinguish from Class A pieces (Class C). From their style, I would place the Class C pieces after D.   Neither series is particularly scarce, and the 1/4 Massa of Class D fairly common. However, due to the deteriorated style, they are less popular with collectors.
WM8.5a   Late Period c. 1150-1300 AD SILVER Massa Sandalwood Flower incuse, R: Nagari Ma    Subtly different from middle period with flans rounder, generally smaller with incuse panel smaller.    Wicks refers to a "bubbly surface" but the main distinguishing feature I see is the darker color, reflecting debasement.    about 1.72-2.43 gm, 12.5-13m   Wiicks (p.255) Class F, M734-738, Millies 21-22   Selected from a large group, actually better but crude execution of Ma makes them look worn: Vg-F 13.50
WM8.5b   1/2 Massa, .91-1.07gm   crude Vg-F 14.50; crude F-VF 19.50
WM8.5c   1/4 Massa, .37-69gm   crude F-VF 18.50
WM8.5x   Copper Massa, 1.35-2.15gm, not even a pretense of silvering, so I am not sure whether these are very late issues or contemporary counterfeits   Vg 10.00

Q001   Gold Plaque   This object is 12.55gm, 40x21m with a crude Sandalwood flower stamped four times. The edges are rough with several shallow test cuts, also rough. My guess is that it is a concoction of recent making, but I am seeking information. NOT FOR SALE


A contact in Bangkok reports that more than 20 types of gold and 30 types of silver fantasies have turned up in Bangkok, and new types appear weekly. Here are some typical examples:
Recumbant Bull / Standing Garuda to left
Sankh Shell / "Vase with flowers"
Several pieces

Ebay seller "thaigemscoins" offers these and other fake Thai items.