Monday, February 16, 2009

Brass pitis (cash) of the Sultanate of Palembang

From the twelfth to the fifteenth century, many Chinese square-holed bronze coins (known as cash) were imported into the Malay peninsula and the islands which make up modern-day Indonesia, including Sumatra. The imported cash became the standard form of small change in the region. From the seventeenth century, local copies, called pitis, were made, often inscribed in Arabic script, because most of the local people had become Muslims.

This pitis from Sumatra is inscribed in Arabic: 'copper coin in the kingdom of Palembang, year 1198'. The year, given according to the Muslim calendar, is equivalent to AD 1783. The reverse of the coin is blank.

J. Cribb, B. Cook and I. Carradice, The coin atlas (London and Sydney, Macdonald Illustrated, 1990)

Source : British Museum

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