Anubhav: A Tactile Experience

Anubhav: A Tactile Experience

Anubhav: A Tactile Experience


A Gallery with Enhanced Access for Visitor

Anubhav is a special tactile gallery that aims to expand access for all visitors, particularly visitors with disabilities. It has on display 22 tactile replicas of museum objects, carefully chosen from the vast collection of National Museum by its curators representing 5000 years of Indian art. The idea is to provide a rich and engaging experience to visitors aesthetically, historically and intellectually. The objects range from archaeological finds, sculptures, tactile impressions of paintings, utilitarian objects, ethnographic objects and decorative arts.

Why this Gallery?

National Museum continuously works towards improving its facilities for visitors, children, tourists and cultural enthusiasts. The overall objective is to make the Museum inclusive for all. While a small percentage of the Museum's visitor base comprises of people with disabilities, the Museum has succeeded in increasing its visibility among this section by collaborating with organizations working for people with disabilities and developing programmes which are specially designed for visually impaired visitors. These include programmes, such as storytelling sessions for visually impaired audiences, tactile exhibition displays, workshops/seminars, and touch tour of select museum objects for museum walk-ins are a few tailor-made programmes these were developed and implemented in the year 2014 to increase participation of visitors from all sections of society.

In October 2014, National Museum was invited to the National conference and Exhibition on ICTs for persons with disabilities: Taking Stock and Identifying Opportunities organized by UNESCO. At this conference it was decided that National Museum will examine its museum's accessibility to share physical and intellectual assets with the differently abled. As a follow up, National Museum's Education department and Outreach department met members from the Cultural Sector of UNESCO, Saksham and National platform for the rights of the disabled (NPRD).National Museum, with more than 10 departments, houses objects representing Pre-historic to Modern times. These departments can host students from various academic backgrounds. The students from history, art history, science, architecture, design, engineering, photography, library sciences and languages are encouraged to apply after going through the projects and themes offered by different departments in detail.


How to Visit

The visit can last for 1 hour with full tactile exploration of 22 objects. Please book at least 3 days in advance. Maximum number of visitors at one time would be 10. Advance booking is essential. Book a visit by sending an email to , Ms. Rige Shiba, Museum Education Officer or by calling us at 23019272 (Ext. 237). Manually operated wheelchairs are available at the Monday Gate. Kindly indicate if wheelchair is required. Entry and visit for visually impaired persons will be free. Accompanying adult(s) should collect free entry ticket for visually impaired persons from the ticket counter. 


Welcome to National Mususeum

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Welcome to the National Museum. You are currently in the tactile gallery called, Anubhav. Anubhav is a special gallery that aims to expand access for all visitors, particularly visitors with disabilities. It has on display, 22 tactile replicas of museum objects, carefully chosen from the vast collection of National Museum by its curators representing 5000 years of Indian art. The idea is to provide a rich and engaging experience to visitors aesthetically, historically and intellectually. The objects range from archaeological finds, sculptures, tactile impressions of paintings, utilitarian objects, ethnographic objects and decorative arts. Now, you will be starting the tour.

Standing Buddha

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Title: Standing Buddha
Provenance: Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh
Original Medium: Sandstone
Time period: Gupta period, c. 430-450
Measurement: H= 127cm, W=56 cm, Depth= 23cm

The object is a replica of a sandstone sculpture of Buddha from Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh. It was created 1500 years ago approximately. On touch, one can feel the elegant robe which has been delicately sculpted in buff sandstone. Buddha stands in strictly frontal posture.

His right hand is held upright and the palm is facing outward. He is therefore depicted in Abhaya mudra gesture, representing the the gesture of assurance for granting freedom from fear. His left hand is depicted holding the hem of his garment.

His eyes are closed in meditation and his face expresses the bliss experienced by him after his Enlightenment. He has an oval shaped aureole around his body and head. His invisible mona stic garments (sanghati) can be only seen from folds around the neck and from a simple belt tied with a single knot forming a delicate hanging loop at the waist.


Dancing Girl

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Title: Dancing Girl
Provennce: Harappan Civilization HR area of Mohenjodaro
Original Medium: Bronze
Time period: 2700-2100 B.C.E.
Measurement: 10.5 x 5 x 2.5 cm

This touch object is of Dancing Girl, from the Harappan Civilization. It is a replica of 4500 years old statute of dancing girl which is displayed in the National Museum's Indus valley gallery. This statuette is cast in bronze, using a technique known as the lost wax process. The Dancing Girl is one of the very earliest examples of this technique. She was found in 1926, in the Harappan town of Mohenjo Daro, what is now the Sindh province in Pakistan.

This is an image of a young woman with large eyes, flat nose and bunched curly hair neatly tied in a low loose bun at the back of her neck - all featured in an artistic way.

Her left leg is bent at the knee, right arm bent at the elbow resting on her hip and the other hand holding a bowl suggests a dancing pose. She wears a small necklace with three large pendant beads. The heavy armlets on her left hands and the forearm ringed with bangles match her elaborate neck ornament. This 6 inches tall sculpture of Dancing Girl is a work of art, as the artist has captured the youthful charm of the dancer and at the same time evoked many mysterious qualities, leaving us to wonder - who she was, and what was her position in society?

Mother Goddess

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Title: Mother Goddess
Provenance: Harappan Civilization,Mohenjodaro
Original Medium: Terracotta
Time Period: 2700 – 2100 B.C.E
Measurement: 23 X5.54 cm

This object that you are touching is one of the most outstanding terracotta objects in the Harappan gallery. It is a female figurine from Mohenjodaro, which is in present day Pakistan.

It is generally believed that the female figurines of this kind represent the mother goddess and suggest the prevalence of a fertility cult among the Harappan people. This figurine is adorned with an unusual fan shaped head-dress with two cup like extensions on either side of it. You can feel the elaborate necklace around the neck and a belt or girdle around her waist. Historians believe that these figurines may have been used as oil or incense burners. This is a handmade figurine which is 23 centimetres tall and 5.54 cms wide.


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Title: Shield
Provennce: Bikaner, Rajasthan
Original Medium: Metal
Time period: 20th Century
Measurement: 41.5cm

This is a circular, convex shield made of metal with an upturned rim. The shield was made in the 20th century in Rajasthan and has a diametre of 41.5cm. On touching one can feel four metallic bosses in the form of human heads in bold repousse. There are four metallic bosses in the form of human heads in bold repousse. In the centre is an appliqué panel surmounted by a peacock. The lower portion of the panel is inscribed in Devangiri script which reads as: ‘’ Sirdar Sahar Bikaner Chunnilal Jivanmal Dhadeva”. It means that the shield belonged to Sirdar Chunnilal Jeevanmal Dhadeva of the city of Bikaner.

At the bottom of the shield a seated lion is made in appliqué, which is flanked by an arrangement of flowers ( guldasta) on each side. Above the arrangement of flowers is a plain shield encased in floral- creeper patterns in bold repousse work.


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Title: Shield
Provenance: Bikaner, Rajasthan
Original Medium: Metal
Time Period: 18th – 19th Century
Measurement: 34.5cm

This circular object is a 200 year old shield made of steel. It is from Bikaner, Rajasthan which is a state in the North West part of India. It has a rounded rim or border which is slightly upturned. As you move your hand along the circumference you can feel a decorative border with a repeating feature of metallic flowers, creepers and serpents.

Inside this floral decoration are four decorated metallic bosses. The flat surface surrounding the 4 bosses is engraved with floral and creeper motifs. In the middle of the four bosses is an inscription which reads ‘Sri Darbar’ in Devanagari script.

Siva Vamana

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Title: Siva Vamana
Provennce: Nagpur, Maharashtra
Original Medium: Stone
Time period: 5th century A.D.
Measurement: 85 x 63 x 38cm

This unique representation of four armed Siva as Vamana is from the 5th century and comes from Nagpur in the state of Maharashtra. The figure is seated in ardhaparyankasana on a cushioned seat against a large round decorated pillow. He is holding flowers, a rosary and the stalk of lotus in his three hands and the fourth is placed on the knee in a natural posture.

Besides the jewelled ornamemts, he is adorned with sarpa nupura also. His jata mukuta set on the right side varies with the usual form of his jata mukuta. He is shown with bulging belly, thick limbs, big nose and a short statured body. His facial expression indicates his jovial mood. Generally, Siva has not been represented with such features. This sculpture has been titled as Siva-Vamana by Sivaramamurti.

Rama and the Golden deer Maricha

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Title: Rama and the Golden deer Maricha
Provenance: Malwa, Central India
Original Medium: Paper
Time Period: 1634 -40 CE

The painting in display here is from the Ramayana series, illustrating the episode just prior to Sita’s abduction. Ravana’s uncle Maricha lures her by turning into a golden deer, leading Rama and Lakshmana away from their abode, when Ravana cheats and kidnaps her.

The composition of the plane is flat, with figures arranged in a serial order and the entire plane is divided into segments. On touching the top register, you can feel the shape of a cloud marked by vertical lines, and bordered by a wavy line. The extreme left of the painting is the first segment which has an architectural component, signifying their forest dwelling. The artist has taken liberties, and converted this into a dome-like building, topped by a golden finial. This can be felt through following the thick embossed lines from the dome down to the base.

At the centre of the building, you can feel the open door which gives the viewer a peep inside. Here Sita stands in profile, wearing a striped skirt and the ever popular Malwa-tassels.

Outside the hut stand the figures of Lakshmana and Rama. Here Rama can be identified by the blue skin, which hints at his divine status as a manifestation of Vishnu. To represent this colour, Rama’s torso is textured. You can feel their turbans, bow and arrow; a transparent jama over their pajamas. Such stylistics in clothing was an obvious Islamic influence.

On the right is the last segment of the painting which depicts the forest. Here the forest is signified by three trees, marked by thick zig-zag pattern. You can feel that the trees are stylistically shown as ovals. As you begin to feel the trees from left to right, between the first and second tree stands the deer. It appears wide eyed and a bit stiff – looking more like a plaything, than a real animal. It is painted in natural colours but the audience was expected to understand that it signified the golden Maricha.

Colour symbolism holds a place of extreme prominence in this school. In the actual paintings the backdrop for Rama and Lakshmana is painted red, to separate it from the rest of the narrative and also to mark it as the segment where the primary action occurs. Whereas, the backdrop for the forest is painted yellow and marked by dotted texture.

Prince Enjoying Music

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Title: Prince Enjoying Music
Provennce: Golconda, Deccan.
Original Medium: Opaque watercolour and gold on paper
Time period: 1683 C.E.

This miniature is from the Deccani School, whose most ardent patron was the polymath ruler Ibrahim Adil Shah II. The painting is divided into three registers – the outer border or hashiya painted in royal blue interspersed with flowers in gold. On touching, the blue can be felt by dotted patterns and the gold flowers are marked out by embossing. The second section is a thinner border in gold, also marked out by embossing.

The main scene in the centre evokes many senses-those of sight, hearing and even smell. The setting is probably of an overcast monsoon sky, with a sense of the impending rain. Inside the embossed frame, the top section is covered by a thundering mass of dark-blue clouds, which can be felt as vertical lines with a wavy border. Seated in this environment are two figures engaged in the pleasures of a so-called ‘lazy’ evening. On the left, there is the figure of a prince. He sits on a heavily decorated carpet and wears a printed turban and a fuchsia ‘jama’ covered with floral motifs. You can feel the prints and design on the jama and turbans by touching a textured pattern. The decorated carpet is shown with the embossed square border around the lower body of the prince.

He is holding the flower in his left hand close to his nose to take in the perfume of a flower. You can feel a dagger placed next to him, close to his folded legs. Other sign of a luxurious pastime like a paan-container, which is marked out by a wide based bowl is also placed on the carpet near him.

To the viewer’s right, sits the dainty female musician, she is depicted smaller in size to emphasise the hierarchy between the figures. Scaling was a method employed frequently in all forms of plastic arts in India, to indicate social positioning. She wears a gossamer thin veil and a pink skirt. She is marked out from the background by textured patterns across her garment.

The female musician holds a tanpura to her right. The tanpura is very intricately decorated and the musician plucks on it with her henna-laden fingers. Here the tanpura is marked out by embossing.

Shiva mukhalinga

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Title: Shiva mukhalinga
Provenance: Karnataka/Maharashtra
Original Medium: Metal
Time Period: 20th century
Measurement: Ht. 21.3 cm

This metal object is a Shiva Mukhalinga, dating back to 20th century from Maharashtra and is 21.3cms tall. This object depicts a shivalinga with Shiva’s face. The facial features are quite prominent. On touching the face from the top, you will come across three horizontal lines on his forhead. The eyes are oblong and bulging out with thich eyebrows. The face also has a very prominent moustache. He is also wearing earrings and a necklace with a pendant made of 3 beads.

Buddha Head

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Title: Buddha Head
Provennce: Gupta Peariod, Uttar Pradesh
Original Medium: Buff Chunar sandstone
Time period: 5th century C.E.
Measurement: 26.6 x16.2x21.0 cm.

This magnificent sculpture found in Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh is made in Sandstone. It presents all the hallmarks of the classical idiom of Indian art that developed approximately 1500 years ago during the Gupta period.

At the top of the head one can feel the curly hair depicted in snail like knots with the usnisa or protuberance at the top. As you move your hand downwards you can feel his half closed elongated eyes which indicate that the Budhha is in deep meditation.

Other facial features that you can experience are an oval face, flat, long cheeks, thick, full lips, a sharp nose and elongated earlobes, This style which developed in the Gupta period influenced all subsequent artistic development throughout Northern India.


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Title: Yaksha
Provenance: Cave no. 3, Pitalkhora, Maharashtra
Original Medium: Stone
Time Period: ---
Measurement: 106 x 59 x 34cm

This object is a Yaksha, a cave sculpture from Pitalkhora in Maharashtra. The sculpture is 106 cms tall and 59cms wide and its left forearm is missing. On touching, one can feel that this standing Yaksha is holding a shallow bowl on his head with his right hand. Probably both his hands must have been used to support the bowl. His dwarfish, bold and robust features are very distinctive.

He is full of joy and his wide smile reveals his row of teeth indicating that the Yaksha is friendly and benign. He is adorned with several unusual types of ornaments and his hair is twisted in rolls.

He wears a short Dhoti or lower garment tied with a rope around the waist that hangs just above the knee and has pleated gathers on the side. His eyes are large and expressive, welcoming everyone.

The most important note of this sculpture is the inscription. It records that the sculpture was made by Kanhadasa, a goldsmith. The inscription is on the right wrist of the sculpture.

Bust of VajraTara

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Title: Bust of VajraTara
Provennce: Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh
Original Medium: Stone
Time period: 10th Century C.E.
Measurement: H -10 inch, W – 9.5 inch, D – 4inch

This object is a sculture of Tara from the 10 century and belongs to Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh. She is the supreme goddess of the Vajrayana pantheon, and holds a position second only to Buddha.

This sculpture of Tara is broken below the chest. It is adorned with a crown with three kiritas, and is heavily bejewelled. She holds an unbloomed lotus of her left hand, while her right hand is now broken.

The figure is framed by an elaborate arch and the figure on Dhyani Buddha, Amoghasiddhi is placed on top of the arch. Thus she is said to be the pragya or the female principle of Dhyani Buddha Amoghhasiddhi.

The goddess is specially associated with helping her devotees to cross the ocean of existence and as being a saviour goddess, one who protects her worshippers from all the evils of existence.

Crowned Buddha

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Title: Crowned Buddha
Provenance: East India
Original Medium: Carved Black Basalt
Time Period: Pala, 12th Century CE
Measurement: H– 40.5cm, W – 26.5.5 cm, Depth – 9.5cm

This is the image of Buddha from the Pala Period that ruled Eastern India, in the 12th century CE. On top of the panel is a register of three figures of Buddha from various scenes of his life. The figure on the extreme left depicts his descent at Sankasya from Tusita heaven, the one in the centre is in preaching or dharmacakra mudra hinting at the First Sermon at Sarnath. The figure on the extreme right is a depiction of the subjugation of the elephant Nalagiri at Rajagriha. The figure of the elephant is not depicted, since it was supposed to be understood by the audience of this sculpture.

Coming down to the central figure, one can touch the figure of Gautama Buddha which sits under a chaitya-arch, topped by an auspicious kirti-mukha, and flanked by two kinnaras or half man-half bird mythical creatures playing on musical instruments. The chaitya arch is supported on two pilasters on either side, that open upto lotus blossoms.

The central figure of the Buddha is shown here crowned and this a feature that contradicts with Buddha’s ascetic nature. However, such conventions had become very common by this time period in Buddhism, identifying the monk with a monarch and depicting Buddha in the garb of a chakravartin ruler.

He sits wearing a bejewelled crown, a necklace and a thin robe that drops from his left shoulder. His left arm in placed on his lap, and the right arm touches the earth in what is termed as the Earth Touching or Bhoomi Sparsha Mudra. He sits on the cosmic lotus, and on the pedestal are depicted two lions on either side which indicates his association with the Sakya clan. The centre of the pedestal depicts figure of Earth Goddess or Bhoodevi emerging from the earth.

This particular piece, thus, depicts the moment when Buddha defeated the demon Mara’s army by calling upon the Earth Goddess to arise and stand as his witness.

Pashupati Seal

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Title: Pashupati Seal
Provennce: Harappan Civilization, Mohenjodaro
Original Medium: Terracotta
Time period: 2700-2100 B.C.E.
Measurement: 3.4 x 3.4 x 1.4 cm

This object is a seal from the Harappan civilisation. Seals must have been an integral part of trade and used to mark commodities and goods for sale, and the inscription may be the name of the trader.

On this pedestal are displayed two replicas of the same seal. On the left part of the pedestal is the one which represents the actual size, which measures 1.3 inches and on the right is an enlarged version.

When you feel the object from top to bottom you will first come across a line of undeciphered Harappan script. Below it is a figure of a man seated on a pedestal. He wears a prominent headgear with buffalo horns. The figure is seated in a cross-legged position with the arms pointing towards the earth. Some scholars have identified the figure as the earliest representation of Siva as Pashupati.

This central figure is surrounded by animals such as buffalo, tiger, rhino and elephant. The bottom right part of the seal is broken. The seal is made of Steatite, a close-grained rock which does not get damaged easily by water. Perhaps, this is the reason why such a compact material was used as a seal so that it could be dipped in ink or dye time and again.

Jain Ayagpatta

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Title: Jain Ayagpatta
Provenance: Kankalitila, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh
Original Medium: Stone
Time Period: Kushana, 2nd Century C.E
Measurement: H – 25 inch, W – 23inch, D – 4 inch

This object is an Ayagoatta from the 2nd century and belongs to Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. The object is almost square in shape and measures 25inch in height and 23 inches in width. The Ayagpattas are votive tablets used by the Jains for worship. The word ‘Ayaga’ means worshipful.

These slabs were placed around the stupa for worship and to receive offerings. These ritual tablets symbolically represent the whole cosmos and its square shape symbolises the earth. They belong to the transition phase when the worship of symbol was as important as the worship of Jina images.

When you touch the object in the centre you will feel the figure of a Jain Tirthankar seated in cross legged position in dhyanamudra under the umbrella with suspended garlands in the central medallion. The figure is enclosed by four large sized triratna symbols on four sides, with floral motifs in the corners. Its outer frame is decorated with rows of eight auspicious symbols.

All four corners of this Ayagpatta are adorned with rosette motif. The left side of the panel has a wheel and the right has an elephant, both mounted on top of a lion capitals consisting of four winged lions. These lions are seated on a lotus shaped abacus. Below the central medallion with the seated figure is an inscription on it which says: Adoration to the Arhats!

Coin of central India- 600 mm

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Title: Coin of central India- 600 mm
Dynasty: Awadh
Ruler: Moh. Ali Shah
Time period: 1837-1842 AD
Measurement: Dia – 23 inch, Thickness – 2 inch

This object is an enlargement of a Awadh coin issued 150 years ago approximately. The coin is attributed to the ruler Mohammad Ali Shah, one of the last rulers of the Awadh kingdom.

The centre of the coin shows two figures holding a crown between them. Below the crown is a depiction of a fish. Around this image, there is an inscription in Persian.

Dagger with animal head hilt

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Title: Dagger with animal head hilt
Original Medium: Metal
Time Period: 21st Century
Measurement: L= 13 “ with cover

This object here is a dagger with a hilt and double edged blade. The hilt of the dagger is in the shape of a goat head and the sheath of the dagger is made of steel. Daggers were used by Emperors and Queens for the purpose of gifts during ancient and medieval period. I t was the most popular weapon used by the Emperor as well as all ranks of the army during war.

This dagger was made by a sword smith during the workshop organised by the arms department in the premises of national museum in 2014.

Decorated Hilt with disc shaped pommel

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Title: Decorated Hilt with disc shaped pommel
Original Medium: Metal
Time period: 21st Century
Measurement: W= 5”, H=3”, L=8”

This object here is a steel hilt, which is the handle of a sword. On touch, one can feel the surface of the hilt which is beautifully ornamented with creeper and floral motifs. It consists of a disc shaped pommel and an oval shaped grip.

The hilt was made by sword smiths in a workshop held at the National Museum in 2014.

Vessel showing bird god carried in a litter

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Title: Vessel showing bird god carried in a litter
Provenance: Moche valley , North Peru
Original Medium: Clay
Time Period: CE - 200-700
Measurement: Ht. - 26cms

This vessel is a pre Columbian object from Moche Valley, North Peru. It is made of clay and is 26cms tall. The vessel 1700 years old.. The body of the vessel shows in relief a deity with spiked headdress being carried in a sedan chair (litter) which is a flat seat with long poles attached. The chair is carried by men with bird like features.

The vessel has dark cream slip and a long spout with a curved handle on the side which are painted in reddish brown. Bird imagery may be related to ecstatic flight of visions experienced by shaman healers. Herein, the two figures carrying the litter are anthropomorphic in representation. The end part of the litter which is on the shoulder of the carriers are also stylized with animal head.

Mask (animal head)

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Title: Mask (animal head)
Provennce: Monpa, Arunachal Pradesh
Original Medium: Wood
Time period: 20th century
Measurement: Ht. 30.5; Wd. 22 cm

This mask is from Arunachal Pradesh and made in the 20th century. It is made of wood and depicts an animal with open mouth with fangs and upright ears.

These masks are used during the dramas or performances conducted by the monasteries which tell the stories related to Buddhism. Masks of ferocious animals and birds are often worn during the scene prior to Buddha's enlightenment, where they were sent to disturb him during meditation.

Vishnu (Preserver God)

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Title: Vishnu (preserver God)
Provenance: Pallava, South India
Original Medium: Stone
Time Period: 7th century C.E
Measurement: height- 175cm ,width – 93cm, depth -28cm

This large sculpture is of the Preserver God Vishnu belonging to the Pallava dynasty of the 7th century CE. As you begin touching the sculpture from the top, you would first feel the distinctly high crown of the figure which characterizes it as the style of the Pallava dynasty. The crown is fashioned like a cylindrical drum at the top and embellished with semi precious stones.

On his neck he wears three necklaces, earrings in his elongated earlobes, and a sacred thread or yagnopavita runs diagonally across his chest from left to right. This Vishnu is 4 armed; the back hand on the right holds a wheel or chakra, while the one on the front is in abhaya mudra or the no-fear gesture. The back left hand holds the conch-shell, and the front left hand is placed on his thigh.

You can also feel his armlets, and bangles on all four arms and an elaborate girdle on his waist. The centre of the girdle is adorned with a kirti-mukha, an auspicious sign to ward off evil.

Vishnu sits in the royal pose of Lalitasana, with his left leg on the throne and right leg pendant. A thin lower garment or dhoti covers his legs, and you can feel the hems of this dhoti near his ankles. He also wears simple anklets on both his feet. The figure sits on a simple seat that is marked by pilasters on either side. His right foot, slightly out of proportions, is planted firmly on the pedestal that enhances the authoritative and strong posture of this divinity.

Coin of Independent states -800mm

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Title: Coin of Independent states -800mm
Dynasty: Mysore Sultan
Ruler: tipu Sultan
Time period: 1782-1782 AD
Denomination: Paisa
Measurement: Dia – 32 inch, Thickness – 2.5 inch

This is an enlarged replica of a 200 year old copper coin issued during the reign of Tipu Sultan of Mysore Kingdom. Tipu Sultan is credited with the introduction of many positive reforms during his tenure. Among these reforms was the introduction of a wide variety of coin types, many of very high artistic merit.

This particular coin has an image of an adorned elephant with raised tail in the centre of the coin. To the top right of the elephant, the date 1216 in Mauladi Samvat is inscribed which would be the year of issue of the coin. Mauladi Samvat is the calendar used by the rulers of Mysore. The year 1216 corresponds to 1782 CE. The denomination of this coin is ‘Paisa’.


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