The multi-symbol obverse designs of Ujjain’s local copper coins document close affinities to those of the Mauryan silver karshapanas. This multi-symbol fashion with the single design elements having nearly the same size may help to date such coin types earlier than coin types with one large dominant design element which is accompanied by one or more small symbols.
Inanimate, symbolic depictions most frequently occurring on Ujjain copper coins are the railed tree, chakra, six-armed symbol, svastika, taurine, Indradhvaja, srivatsa, river and fish-tank. A few other symbols like sun, wheel, tree-on-hill and railed lingam have to be added to this list but they are rarely seen. The three-arched hill symbol, which occupied a prominent place among the symbols on Mauryan karshapanas, is used on only a few Ujjain types.
The dominant symbol is the cross symbol with an orb attached at each end, the so-called Ujjain symbol. In a large form and as a single symbol it is used as the reverse mark of the local Ujjain coppers but as one among other symbols it also appears on many obverse types of this and many other ancient Indian coin series. The influence and the acceptance of Ujjain’s coins has been so decisive that other authorities sometimes even marked their coins with the same reverse emblem as Ujjain itself – examples are some Erich types or certain types from Vidarbha. In that case a clear distinction is only possible by knowledge of find spots or a specific typology of the respective obverse design. Much has been speculated about origin and meaning of the Ujjain symbol. The most probable interpretation sees the symbol as symbolizing an important cultural, political and economical center where crossroads from all cardinal points met and emanated.
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