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Precious Metal Flows and Currency Circulation in the Mughal Empire Najaf Haider Journal of the Economic and

Social History of the Orient, Vol. 39, No. 3, Money in the Orient. (1996), pp. 298-364.
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PRECIOUS METAL FLOWS AND CURRENCY CIRCULATION


IN THE MUGHAL EMPIRE*

NAJAF HAIDER
(University of Oxford)

Abstract
From the late sixteenth century, the Mughal empire became, with the sole exception of Ming China, the biggest importer of foreign bullion outside Europe. In many modern publications, references to this phenomenon are confined to the context of studying the East-West trade in general, while there is some discussion of its relevance as a factor of change in the Mughal economy. An attempt has been made here to quantify precious metal flows to the Mughal empire and to put them in the perspective of its mint production and silver currency circulation. The significance of India's trade network with Iran and the Ottoman empire is highlighted together with the suggestion that the economic organisation of these regions had a greater influence on the transmission of precious metals to the former than is usually acknowledged. Also, as the level of money supply in medieval monetary economies was inextricably linked with the structure of the bullion market, mint organisation and fiscal measures of the state, the objective here is to point out the importance of this interface in any assessment of a precise relationship between trade and real economic changes.

The Mughal empire (est. 1526 A.D.) experienced the co-existence of two domains of economic activities: one of subsistence and inflexibility, where the village community lived by itself, peasants grew and consumed, artisans produced and bartered. The other, in which economic life was buoyant and movements were visible, was indicated by the prevalence of market relations of exchange and the use and flow of money. Money penetrated the agrarian sector of the Mughal empire through the twin process of state driven commerce and direct production for the market. The outstanding state policy to realize the land revenue in money under the zabt system or to commute the collections into cash when the payment was made in kind established a direct line of commerce between the countryside and the local markets.') At the same time peasants grew cash crops and supplied raw materials to the nearby towns fostering another stream of
*) I am grateful for the comments made by Dr. Sumit Guha, Professor Man Habib and Dr. David Washbrook on an early draft of this paper. All mistakes are, of course, mine and not theirs. 1) Habib 1963: 236-40; 1982: 239. A recent study of western Rajasthan clearly brings out the role of revenue demand in monetizing and commercializing the village economy of the region. See Bhadani 1992: 215-25.

O E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1996

JESHO 39,3

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commercial exchange which had greater implications for the Mughal foreign trade, this being the most important source of precious metals. The two major export items of the Mughal empire in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuriescotton textiles and indigo-originally came from the countryside and were secured by the merchant-contractors for manufacturing centres through a system of money-loans (dadani) advanced to the primary producer^.^) The flow of goods and capital between these centres and the entrepots was further facilitated by the artifices of bills of exchange (hundi) and respondentia (risk-sharing loans), in which the Mughal money-changers (sarrafs) specialized. Merchants also availed themselves the services of a class of people, called adaviyas, who organised caravan traffic and payment of transit dues.3) The urban centres and entrepots of the Mughal empire were immersed far more deeply into commodity production and monetary exchange. Here, the concentration of the bureaucracy, mercantile classes and artisans created a permanent demand for food supplies organised by the itinerant traders (banjaras) who brought the cash back to the countryside. Urban taxes, such as customs and transit dues and mint seigniorage were always paid in cash and were spent towards meeting the administrative costs and consumptions of the resident ruling elites. The Mughal foreign trade was the product of a larger economic environment and its fortunes were tied to the system of production and exchange in the rural hinterlands, local markets and urban entrepots. At the same time, endowed with limited natural resources to sustain an exchange network based on metallic currencies, the system itself was greatly dependent on the lands beyond its frontiers to acquire monetary metal^.^) Political conquests of the state, followed by plunder and tribute, only partially succeeded in meeting this demand, and the development of the Mughal economy demonstrated to a very large extent the complex correlation between long-distance trade, bullion flows and its monetary sector. The purpose of this study is to offer a description and, where possible, a quantitative evaluation of the flow of precious metals to the Mughal empire along the major trade routes. Given the imprecise nature of our data, some of the estimates offered here are at best approximations. However, since there has

2) Haider 1988. 3) Haider 1995. 4) There was no domestic extraction of gold and silver in the Mughal empire, and even though copper, the third monetary metal, was extracted from the mines of Central India, its demand required that huge quantities had to be imported. The two non-metallic currencies, bitter almond (badam) and cowrie shells (kauri) used respectively in Gujarat and Bengal, were also imported from Iran and the Maldives.

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been no work done at all on bullion imports in the Mughal empire and the present state of our knowledge only derives from general features of Indian overseas trade, the estimates do give an idea of specifically Portuguese and Levantine exports of bullion, as well as those of the European Companies, and contribute towards appraising the overall flow of precious metals into the Mughal empire from c. 1550 to c. 1700. For the sake of comparison, and given the overwhelming component of silver in the imports, all estimates of imported bullion are presented here in their silver equivalent though gold imports have also been taken into account. In the subsequent sections, the impact of these flows on the monetary economy is examined with reference to the changes in the volume and pattern of currency circulation and the ways in which these were mediated through the market, mint and fiscal apparatus of the state.

International Trade and Bullion Flows: the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea
It is generally accepted that among the factors responsible for a revival of the Levant trade by the middle of the sixteenth century, perhaps the most important was the political unification of the trade routes which linked the Levant with the Indian O ~ e a n . ~ ) Ottoman incorporation of Syria was an underlyThe ing factor behind the commercial expansion of Aleppo and an increase in the biannual caravan traffic to Hurmuz and B a ~ r a . ~ ) settlement of Indian merA chants was established at Aleppo, and when the Venetians shifted their factories from Damascus to Aleppo in the mid-sixteenth century, the idea was to get closer to the Basra-Aleppo route in order to obtain Indian merchandise as well as Iranian silk.') A strong Ottoman presence in the Red Sea, the practical limitations of the priority set by Lisbon, and the interests of the Luso-Indian officials
.

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. -

5) In the opening decades of the sixteenth century the volume of commerce passing through the Levant registered a decline following Portuguese attempts to divert the Indian Ocean trade through the Cape route. The decline was reflected in the shortage of spices reaching the Levant and a fall in the trade revenues of the Mamluk Sultan. Consequently, the Venetian supply of precious metals to the Levant fell from 340,000 ducats (equivalent of 13 metric tons of silver) in 1496 to 170,000 ducats in 1503 (equivalent of 5 metric tons of silver). Ashtor 1971: 66; 1983: 477; Magalhaes-Godinho 1969: 306. The gold-silver ratio in the Levant adopted for conversion of ducats into silver weight is given in Ashtor 1971: 49. For an early Venetian response to the Cape voyages see Priuli 1938: 132-4. For the decline and revival of the Levant trade see Lybyer 1915: 584-5; Lane 1968: 33-5; 1968a: 47-54; Magalhaes-Godinho 1969: 736, 751, 756-8, 773; Boxer 1969: 415-28. 6) See Linschoten 1885: I, 47-50 for a detailed description of this route; Masters 1988: 12-14 and Steensgaard 1972: 62 for the rise of Aleppo. 7) Lane 1968a: 50. Ottoman archival documents (c. 1610) testify to the busy caravan traffic on this route in the early seventeenth century as well. At least ten Indian merchants,

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in sharing the benefits of an open trade,8) dictated the thrust of the Portuguese policy, which eventually centred round the development of Hurmuz as a competing entrepot to Ottoman Aden and Jadda. This was reflected in their control of the Hurmuz customs as well as the imposition of an additional tax (curujo; Ar. kharaj) on Turkish merchants trading at Hurmuz and on all merchandise leaving for Ottoman B a ~ r a . ~ ) With the advantage of the customs figures published by Magalhaes-Godinho, it is possible to arrive at a rough estimate of the total value of trade passing through Hurmuz in this period. The estimated value of trade presented in Table 1 suggests that the Portuguese policy was bearing fruit and that there was a real increase in the Indian Ocean trade passing through this point in the second half of the sixteenth century. These estimates, however, exclude the amount of bullion brought to Hurmuz since it was exempt from customs duties.I0) According to contemporary estimates, silver exported from Hurmuz in c. 1590 and 1602 amounted to 2 million [crusades].") This gives us a figure of 41.74 metric tons of silver for each of the two years which exceeds the total estimated value of trade in this period by more than 20 percent.I2) It was not unnatural for the real export of bullion to exceed customs recorded imports, though the status of Hurmuz as a major exporter of horses, the value of which increased the revenue figures used for our calculations, must have correspondingly reduced its trade deficit. The only

out of the 120 in one such caravan, were carrying textiles and indigo. Inalcik and Quartaert 1994: 339. 8) The policy advocated by Lisbon was to blockade and intercept the spice trade passing by the Red Sea. The implementation of this policy required intervention in the complex commercial circuits of the Indian Ocean at the expense mainly of the traders and rulers of Arabia, Gujarat, Malabar and Achin. The military operations imposed serious constraints on the Luso-Indian economy which derived sustenance partly from the trade of the region. Magalhaes-Godinho 1969: 757-8; Braudel 1975: I, 545-6. "The balance was not always e a s y . . . between the necessities of the metropolitan economy and Portuguese interests in the Indies. The first imposed. . ., the priority of loading ships destined for Lisbon and rationing of exports to the commercial ports of the Levant. But the Luso-Indian economy, the finances of the Portuguese State of India and the careers of the officials could only profit by overstepping the limits and by eschewing all priority, except that which concerned the biggest benefit." Magalhaes-Godinho 1969: 773-4. It was this precarious balance which characterised the variations in the policies of commisioning hostile cruises and issuing concessions and cartazes. 9) Magalhaes-Godinho 1982: 46. 10) Steensgaard 1972: 198. 11) For c. 1590 see ibid. The figures for 1602 are for the bullion exported by the Ottoman merchants. Magalhaes-Godinho 1969: 772. The document cited by Godinho is dated 1602 on p. 66. 12) Each crusado was valued at 400 reis, and one mark of silver of 229.5 grams was fixed at 4398 reis after the debasement of the Luso-Indian scherafin in 1581. Magalhaes-Godinho 1969: 504.

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explanation which can be offered for an overplus of bullion is that there was a sizeable trade in -silver specie as a commodity in which the role of Hurmuz was just as central as in the sale of non-bullion merchandise.

Table 1. Estimated Value of Hurmuz Trade: c. 1515-c. 1618 (silver equivalent in metric tons)
Year Quinquennial Average Year c. c. c. c. c. 1574 1588 1605 1610 1618 Annual Total 31.93 33.81 34.99 35.93 16.43b)

a)

3 years

b,

From January to July

Note: The customs duty on the bulk of merchandise (cotton textiles, silk, indigo, sugar and horses) amving at Hurmuz was 10 percent ad valorem. For rice, butter, silk goods and cotton, it was 5 percent. The heaviest duty-16.6 percent ad valorem-was imposed on spices and drugs. Besides, merchants were also expected to pay 2 percent for the personal expenses of the Shah, the governor of the town and customs officials. In addition to that, a tax of I percent was realised towards the maintenance of the Portuguese fleet for protection against piracy in the Persian Gulf. Since no details are available for the amount of taxes received for each item, an average figure of 10 percent is taken to represent the total rate levied on all the merchandise. The choice of this figure would mean that in the two categories relevant for exports to India, the proportion of goods in the one category would be underestimated. However, at the same time, it would partly account for the value which evaded customs receipts because of undervaluations, exemptions, smuggling and official corruption. The figures for the customs revenue are available for 1515 to 1588 in the ashrafi of Hurmuz which was equal to 21.5 sadi, while one misqal of gold was valued at 30 to 32 sadi. One Portuguese mark of gold of 229.5 grams (23.125 carat) was equal to 60 misqal. The weight of the ashrafi in fine gold was thus 2.57 grams. Magalhaes-Godinho 1969: 296-7. The gold-silver ratio in Iran at about this time was 1:lO. Fragner 1986: 565. The figure for the year 1605 is converted from pardaos of reis into pardaos of lari, in which denomination figures for the years 1610 and 1618 are given, each valuing 5 silver lari of Hurmuz of 74 grains (98 percent fineness). Rabino 1945: 16. Source: Magalhaes-Godinho 1982: 45-9.

For this to be explained we have to look at the ways in which bullion was exported to India by the Levantine routes. One type of movement was of a

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purely transitory nature where the European coins, on their outward journey to India, simply passed through the Arab and Iranian territories and evaded the watchful eyes of the monetary authorities. The other and more circuitous way was linked to the international trade and regional economy. In this, European bullion was first restruck into the coins of the respective realms, either to finance the export trade or as a result of bullionist measures,13) brought into circulation and then exported to India in the form of lari, abbasi and shahi against the merchandise which was largely consumed within these regions.I4) Speaking of the Armenian merchants, who were the most active in the bullion trade, Tavernier made the following observation:
From the reign of Shah Abbas I to that of Shah Abbas I1 there has been plenty of silver in Persia than is to be seen now; and the Armenian merchants used to transport it from Europe into Persia and then got them converted into local money (le reduisoit en monnoye du pays). But in these past years they bring nothing but ducats and sequins since these are more portable. They have also invented new ways of hiding the money in their vests and shirts to safeguard against robberies which take place on caravans travelling from Turkey, and also to avoid payments of customs and other dues at places which are not rigorous in searching for what the merchants are ~arrying.'~)

Later, discussing the merchants in general, Tavernier observed that those travelling in caravans between Aleppo and Basra could be allowed at some places to pass with their piastre and to pay toll in the same specie. At other points, however, they were forced to convert these into local currencies at an official rate of exchange.I6) Also, the silk exports from Gilan and Georgia were financed by prototypal Iranian coins struck entirely out of European silver which the Armenian merchants brought to the frontier regions of northern Iran.") Through a system of deposit banking and money-lending, which was quite widespread in Iran and controlled largely by the Indian baniyas,I8) com13) Among the measures taken by the Iranian kings to contain the flow of gold and silver out of the country, only one, perhaps not the most significant but nonetheless colourful, has come to our attention. This was the great expedition taken by Shah Abbas to the tomb of Imam Reza where he had a vision of the spiritual founder of Iranian Shiism. On his return journey from Mashhad, he narrated the vision to his subjects and enticed the devotees to undertake regular pilgrimage to the rauza. Foreign observers, almost all of whom knew the story, agreed that the real motive was to drive the pilgrims away from Mecca, Karbala and Najaf since they carried with them "abundance of his gold ducats" in offerings and expenses to the Ottoman territories. Tavernier 1679: I, 588-9; Sanson 1695: 171-2. 14) Ibid.: 589-90. Also see Sahillioglu 1983: 286; Mackenzie 1988: 181-186; Khoury 1991: 65-6. 15) Tavernier 1679: I, 418. 16) Ibid.: 153-4, 169. This was at least one important reason for the merchants on these routes to avail themselves the services of a class of people who specialised in transporting the goods and money of the merchants on a small payment. Ibid.: 230. 17) Ibid.: 134, 361, 363-4. 18) Tavernier makes it quite clear that the baniyas were mainly bankers (banquiers) who

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mercial capital was made available to finance commodity trade and to facilitate the transmission of precious metals by bills of exchange. It often happened that when the Indian ships called, there was more merchandise than money at Bandar Abbas and word was quickly sent to those who held cash reserves (l'argent contant) at Lar, Shiraz and Isfahan to finance the imports. Credit was then advanced to the merchants buying goods for inland towns and the loans were repaid after the goods reached their destinations.19)Similarly, money taken up by the merchants at Baghdad could be paid at Aleppo or the debts owed at Erzerum could be settled at Bursa, Smyrna and Leghorn. In this process which, according to Tavernier, linked Surat and Golconda to the Mediterranean entrepots, the remittance of commercial papers was matched by a reverse remittance of cash which was eventually transferred physically from Bandar Abbas to India.20) At Hurmuz and Basra, the two movements of precious metals were represented by the reale of eight and the lari. There is indeed some evidence to suggest that the export of the lari, a unique silver coin of high fineness minted at Lar (the capital of Laristan in Southern Iran, which did not yet belong to the Safavid empire) assumed a very high proportion in the second half of the sixteenth cent~ry.~') The reason for this increase was two-fold: the monetary policy of the authorities at Lar, and the status which lari had acquired as the commercial currency of the Indian Ocean. While the Ottoman and the Iranian mints coerced the merchants into changing their reale, Laristan offered an incentive to them by overvaluing the reale against its own lari which suggests that the profit earned here was not so much from silver arbitrage but from seigni~rage.~~) The market for the lari in the Indian Ocean trade, limited by the predominance of Hurmuzi ashrafi in the first half of the century, expanded enormously as a result of the infiux of European silver. The mechanism of this trade was demonstrated by van Linschoten in some detail, and interesting aspects of the pattern of currency circulation, mono-metallic arbitrage and supply of silver can be gleaned from his de~cription.~~) As a result of regular trade with Hurmuz, the lari had already become an
accepted deposits from the wealthy men of Isfahan on interest. These deposits were then lent out at a higher rate of interest. Ibid. 471, 586-8. 19) Ibid.: 767-8. 20) Ibid. 21) The lari was a double twist of silver purl weighing over 7 4 troy grains in which 98 percent was pure silver. Rabino 1945: 16. On numerous occasions laris were described by foreign travellers and observers, who took care to note their size and shape and testified to their high degree of fineness. See Barret 1904: 12; Linschoten 1885: I , 18; Pyrard 1888: 11, ii, 239. 1 , 589-90. 22) Barret 1904: 10, 11, 15; Tavernier 1679: 1 23) Linschoten 1885: I , 186-7.

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established medium of payment on the coasts of Gujarat and western D e ~ c a n . ~ ~ ) But it seems that in the second half of the sixteenth century, it also gained currency in the spice exporting areas of the south-western coast as well, which was predominantly gold based. Whenever spices were paid for in silver at Malabar, The it was the lari, and not reale, which was a c ~ e p t e d . ~ ~ ) Portuguese merchants bringing reale from Lisbon in September had to exchange them for the lari in order to obtain spices, and such was the demand for this specie that a profit of 12 percent could be earned on this e~change.'~) It is worth remembering that gold coins were very much in use to settle the purchase of spices, and the demand for laris here had grown out of the rising silver influx and the currency they had acquired on the western coast to settle regional trade balance^.^') The reales obtained by the money changers were sold to the China trading merchants, against laris, on the eve of the ships' departure in April, and a profit was again earned on this transaction. The circuit which Linschoten describes was completed when the money-changers exchanged the lari once again for reale towards the end of the year. In another testimony, Gomes Solis, who was a big merchant in Indo-Portuguese trade at the turn of the seventeenth century, described how the reales were converted into Turkish and Iranian coins and then taken to India in ever larger quantitie~.'~) By 1602, the annual export of bullion to Hurmuz by the Ottoman merchants was as high as 2 million crusados (41.74 metric tons of silMuch ~er).~ ~ ) of this silver (in the form of shahi, lari and reale) was brought not only to the western coasts of India but into the heartland of the Mughal empire as well.30) The signs of a decline in the Hurmuz trade were visible from 1610 onwards with the estimated value of its trade falling from 35.93 metric tons of silver in that year to 16.45 in 1618.31)In this period, the annual loss of revenue suffered

24) Fredericke 1904: 374; Barrett 1904: 17. In the seasons for making purchases in the markets of Cambay, Diu, western Deccan and Bengal, the lari enjoyed a premium of above 20 percent. Magalhaes-Godinho 1969: 5 13. 25) In 1582, an Italian merchant reportedly invested 20,000 ducats (here money of account) in laris at Cannanore to buy pepper. Magalhaes-Godinho 1969: 332. 26) See editor's note in Linschoten 1885: I, 186fn. 27) The exchange rate for the Venetian sequin at Goa was "9 tangaes and halfe good money." But when the ships were to sail for Cochin its value rose to 10 tangas. Barret 1904: 19. 28) Magalhaes-Godinho 1969: 5 13. 29) Ibid.: 772. 30) Abul Fazl 1872: I, 19. 31) The figures for 1618 are available only for seven months, but it should be remembered that this period was the time of the year when much of the trading took place at Hurmuz. Tavernier 1925: I, 4-5; English Factories 1642-45: 87.

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by the Portuguese from this source was estimated at 60,000 p a r d a o ~ . ~ The ~) Safavid offensives to regain Hurmuz and the mounting pressure of a hostile Anglo-Dutch presence on Portuguese shipping may partly account for the loss of trade on this route.33)As a result, the currents of trade turned away from Hurmuz to the caravan route linking Agra and Lahore with Isfahan through Qandhar. The annual traffic on this route, eclipsed earlier by the less cumbersome passage to Hurmuz from Sind and Gujarat, had reportedly grown four times in 1615 from the previous The link between the decline in Persian Gulf trade and a rise in the caravan traffic was noticed by Portuguese observers as well, who suggested measures to rectify the perceived imbalance by bringing the merchants back to the sea.35)The annual value of the revived caravan trade has been estimated at 1.4-1.8 million rupees (16-20 metric tons of silver).36) A recovery in the silver imports by sea seems to have begun around 1630s, following the resumption of regular trade with the Persian Gulf. The settlement of the conflict over Hurmuz and the subsequent rise of Bandar Abbas as an entrepot due to its convenient connections with the Iranian hinterland, may have contributed to its successful rene~al.~') According to a detailed report prepared by a Dutch factor in 1634, the total value of textile, indigo, sugar and gurnlac exported annually from Agra, Lahore, Sind, Gujarat and Daulatabad sold in the markets of Iran was 2,130,350 muharnrnadis or 24.20 metric tons of silver.38)
32) Magalhaes-Godinho 1982: 50. 33) Pelsaert 1925: 39-40 contains a vivid description of the decline in the western Indian Ocean trade and says that the "Portuguese, Moslems and Hindus all concur in putting the blame for this state of things entirely on us and the English. . ." Also see Boxer 1935: 4687; Steensgaard 1972: 206. 34) Purchas 1905: IV, 268-9. In his letter from Isfahan, Richard Steele (1615) mentioned the passing of 12,000 to 14,000 camel loads of merchandise from Lahore to Isfahan every year while, according to him, not more than 3,000 camels travelled on this route in times of peace. Robert Coverte (1609), who travelled with a caravan from Agra to Isfahan, reported that "7 or 8 thousand camels" carried merchandise from Qandhar alone. Coverte 1971: 74. 35) Steensgaard 1972: 207. 36) Moosvi 1987a: 382. 37) English Factories 1618-21: 46; Steensgaard 1972: 398-462. It seems that the decision to fortify the customs house of Bandar Abbas was part of a comprehensive plan by the Safavids to harness its potentials in developing their overseas trade. See Tavernier 1679: 1, 755-62. 38) Bronnen: 482-94. The exchange rates used here are those given in the source. According to this inventory, the volume of Bayana indigo destined for Iran by sea was 4000 man i Akbari or 25 percent of the total yield of this region estimated by Pelsaert in c. 1626. Pelsaert 1925: 13-4. It seems that this figure represents the total volume of indigo exported to Iran (this variety being exported to the Red Sea and Europe in larger quantities), and its absence from the list of commodities transported by the land route might have something to do with its prohibitive price. The high component of textiles from the inland regions of Agra, Awadh and Lahore in the overland trade and their absence from the goods exported

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A decade later, it was observed by another Dutch factor, that the amount of bullion annually imported by the merchants of Surat was 22.7 metric tons of silver.39)These figures could provide a basis for the suggestion that, on an average, about 25 metric tons of silver was exported to the Mughal empire from the Iranian ports in the second quarter of the seventeenth century. In the second half of the seventeenth century, the general pattern of Iranian trade with the Levant and India remained much the same. Ralph du Mans, writing in 1660, summed up the position of Iran as a conduit of European silver:
Persia is like a big caravanserai which has only two doors, one towards the side of Turkey by which silver from the West enters; [in the form of] piastres which come from the New World to Spain, from there to France. . . [and] leaving France through Marseilles, they enter into Turkey, from where they arrive here [Iran], where one recasts them into abbasis . . . Some cany their piastres until the Indies . . . The other door of exit is Bandar Abbas . . . for going to the Indies, to Surat, where all silver of the world unloads, and from there as fallen in an abyss, it does not reemerge . . .40)

Even though the export of bullion out of Iran was never popular with the authorities, the merchants could always find ways and means to circumvent official prohibitions. But during periods of monetary crisis, itself attributed to bullion exports, these came under the strictest scrutiny. It was reported to Shah Sulayman, while he took measures to regulate the supplies of silver to the mints, that the Armenians were now bringing no more foreign bullion into the country than they were exporting to India. This, in the opinion of the officials, the popular prejudice was causing a crisis of silver in the e m ~ i r e . ~Similarly, ') against the baniyas (there were 10 to 12 thousand in Isfahan alone) for being usurers and bullion exporters was often reflected in the remarks of the foreign observers when they spoke of the bullion crisis:
These Indians, like true leeches extract all the gold and silver of the country and send them to their own country so that in the year 1677 when I departed from Persia, one could not see there any more gold or silver. These usurers had made it disappear entirely .42)

Ironically, the Iranian monetary policy to overcome the contraction of the circulating medium served to worsen the situation and further contributed to the drainage of the specie from the country. After the debasement of silver currency in 1684, foreign coins were greatly undervalued at the official rate of exchange
by sea suggests a shift in the commodity composition of the export trade over the two routes in this period. 39) Van Santen 1982: 75. 40) Du Mans 1890: 192. 41) Sanson 1695: 12-3. 42) Chardin 1811: VI, 164. Also see Tavernier 1679: I, 586-8.

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and it became practically impossible for the merchants to obtain the true value of their bullion in Iran, compelling them to export it directly to India.43)In this, the tightly controlled Bandar Abbas was altogether avoided and Basra was selected for their bullion exports in the last decade of the seventeenth century.") The cargoes of a Dutch ship which sailed from Basra at about this time, and was intercepted by the Iranian authorities when it drifted towards Bandar Abbas, carried over 24 metric tons of silver in Spanish reales owned by the Armenian merchants of Iran.45) The evidence for Gujarati shipping in the western Indian Ocean suggests that trade with Iran was on an increase in this period. The English reported in 1660 that the number of non-European ships at Surat had gone up "so fast that, wheras in Suratt ten yeares past there were but 15 or 20, there is now 80, and the most p a t e of greate b ~ r t h e n . " ~ ~ ) of this shipping seems to have been Some directed towards trade with the Red Sea and Iran as suggested by the alarmed response of the Dutch factors to the possibility of a loss of freight trade to these de~tinations.~~) The figures for the customs revenue derived from Bandar Abbas also suggest an upward trend in the Jianian trade compared to the earlier period. The customs revenue of Hurmuz in 1610 was 3.6 metric tons of silver, but the corresponding figure for Bandar Abbas in 1643 was 5.5 metric tons, which rose to 6 metric tons in 1654 and 7 metric tons in 1657.48)In 1656-57, the average value of goods exported from Surat to Bandar Abbas stood at around 22 metric tons of their silver value.49) An equally important supplier of bullion to western India by the maritime route was the Red Sea region which, owing to the distribution of bullion and
43) Sanson 1695: 159-61.
44) Ibid.: 14. Also Fryer 1909: I, 282-3.
45) Sanson 1695: 14.
46) English Factories 1655-60: 301. Among these ships one may count six large vessels
(groote backen) owned once by Shahjahan, and an equal number of freight ships built for the Surat administrator, Mir Arab, and commissioned by him for coastal trade. Generale 1 , 624-5. The wealthy merchants of Surat were described in 1663 as "worth over Missiven: 1 five to six millions and own up to fifty ships which sail every where." Godinho 1990: 49. 1 1 , 36. Reporting on the great volume of the trade conducted by 47) Generale Missiven: 1 the Muslim and baniya merchants of Gujarat, they noted that between May 1654 and April 1655, "40 heavy ships [cloucke schepen] sailed [from Gujarat], mostly to trade with Persia, Basra and Mokha." 4 8 ) For Hurmuz see the source cited for Table 1. For Bandar Abbas see Generale 1 1 , 107; English Factories 1655-60: 28. All figures are given in toman Missiven: 11, 207; 1 (= 50 abbasis of 107 grains of fine silver). 49) English Factories 1655-60: 171-2. Since these values are derived from the records of the Surat custom house, the value of bullion in the return cargo would be higher by at least 50 percent to account for, besides the usual undervaluation, the difference in the cost price and sales price of the goods exported by the Gujarati merchants. The Iranian merchants would. however, bring an amount of bullion equal to the value of exported goods.

THE MUGHAL EMPIRE

309

merchandise across the traditional routes linking the Levant with the Arab and Iranian ports, handled a volume of merchandise higher than was brought to Basra and Bandar Abbas by the Aleppo-Baghdad route.50) Merchants travelled from Cairo both by land and sea and reached Mokha either directly by Tor (on the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula) or via Jadda. An Ottoman imperial ship sailed every year to Mokha laden with European merchandise and, above all, huge quantities of gold and silver coins. In 1616, exports to Mokha by one such ship reportedly consisted of 350,000 reales of eight and 50,000 Venetian and "Moorsche Ducaten" (~ultani).~') The land traffic was described by an English factor as he saw it in 1629:
There cometh also yearly from Grand Cairo to Mocho a land caphilo of some 800 or 1,000 cammells, who bring but little ladinge save marchants and their estates; which marchants bring greate quantities of monies, as rialls of eight and chekeens of gold to buy commodities; . . . This caphilo aryveth in Mocho every yeare about the latter end of April1 or the beginning of May, and in July following departeth againe for Judda and Grand Cairo, being laden with Indian commodities [a list of textiles and spices].52)

Merchants trading between Aleppo and Mokha took the annual pilgrimage route to Hedjaz. Pedro Texeira mentions that every year after Ramadhan, a big caravan left Aleppo for Mecca which was joined by another at Damascus with more pilgrims and merchants. He himself watched with some amusement the departure of one such caravan, amidst great fanfare and playing of music, of 800 persons travelling with 3,000 camels, many horses and packed animals, merchandise and "a great deal of money which passes on to India that way."53) A smaller caravan of about 600 camels which came from Aleppo in 1616 with the intention of buying Indian commodities at Mokha, reportedly brought 200,000 reales of eight and 100,000 Venetian and Hungarian ducats and Ottoman
50) The Red Sea ports of Jadda, Mokha and Aden were visited by the merchants from Cairo and Aleppo, where European bullion came through the ports of Alexandria, Smyrna and Iskenderun. Texeira 1902: 115, 118-21, 130; Tavernier 1679: I, 88; Bernier 1989: 202-3; Supplementary Calendar 1600-40: 69. 51) Broecke 1962: I, 107fn. See English Factories 1624-29: 349-50 for the annual visits of a "great Junck" to Mokha from Cairo. Also see 1637-41: 103 where the cheapness of Indian goods at Mokha was ascribed to the lack of buyers following "a great vessel from Suez having been wrecked on her way thither." 52) English Factories 1624-29: 350. The amval of the caravan at Mokha was timed to match th; calling of the Gujarat ships at the port in spring. Teny 1921: 301-2; Brouwer 1992: 19-20. 53) Texeira 1902: 122. The size of the Aleppo caravan would largely depend on the coincidence of the Islamic calendar with the sailing seasons, and it is likely that smaller caravans set on their course strictly with a mercantile objective independent of the hadj traffic. The outward Meccan caravan itself split into two before reaching its destinations, one terminating at Jadda and the other travelling all the way to the shores of southern Arabia. Lane 1968: 53-4; Inalcik 1994: 345-6; Meilink-Roelofsz 1962: 223, 388.

3 10

NAJAF HAlDER

sultani. It was believed that the amount actually brought was higher than was declared at the Mokha custom house.54) Judged from the figures of this year alone, the bullion exports to Mokha from the Levant by land and sea came were well above 20 metric tons of silver.

Table 2 . Bullion Exports from Europe to the Levant: Various Estimates


Year From Europe Europe Europe Europe Venice Venice Holland Europe Europe Marseilles Europe Venice
a)

To Easta) Easta) Levant Easta) Aleppo Aleppo Levant Levant Levant Aleppo Aleppo Levant

Annual TotaVAverage (metric tons of silver)

References Morineau 1985: 581 Parker 1974: 529 Ibid. Morineau 1985: 581 Braudel and Spooner 1977: 448 and n. Ibid. Attman 1986: 76 Ibid.: 33, 77 Barren 1990: 251-2 Texeira 1902: 120 Ibid. Spooner 1962: 645-55

b,

Includes exports to the Levant Cash and goods

Indian ships called at all the three ports of the Red Sea although, in the course of the seventeenth century, Mokha overshadowed the rest by becoming the busiest market for the exchange of European bullion against the spices from Malabar and Achin, textile and indigo from Gujarat and coffee from Yemen.55) Textiles and indigo brought to Mokha were sold to the Arab and Turkish merchants mainly for silver and gold.56) Any direct information on bullion imported by the Red Sea is lacking for the second half of the sixteenth century and its magnitude has been inferred from its overall trade with India. Portuguese sources speak of twelve to fifteen ships going to the Red Sea from Gujarat each year, and a modern estimate has put
54) Broecke 1962: I , 85. 55) English Factories 1637-41: 103; 1661-64: 78; Inalcik 1994: 336; Meilink-Roelofsz 1962: 222-3, 386-7. In the fiscal year 1599-1600, the revenue from the ports of Yemen was 118,851 gold pieces (probably Yemeni dinar) of which the contribution of Mokha was 73 percent. Inalcik 1994: 335-6. 56) Coen 1919: I, 238; Ovington 1929: 269-70; Fryer 1909: I, 282-3.

THE MUGHAL EMPIRE

31 1

the total value of this trade at 20 million rupees (app. 226.6 metric tons of silver) on the basis of duties paid to the Portuguese by these ships.57) This estimate would put the supply of bullion by this route in the proximity of 100 metric tons of silver considering that a little less than half of the total value of trade, allowing for the share of merchandise, was brought back in bullion. This seems to me to be a high figure for two reasons. If we anticipate our later estimates for bullion imports from the Red Sea, the gap would be significantly large unless it could be explained that there was a big decline in this trade in the intervening period. The evidence, as it exists, however, is to the contrary. Second, the figures (Table 2) we have for the European exports to the Levant are much too low to allow for such a massive amount of silver passing by the Red Sea alone, even though one could argue that the intermediary regions of Ottoman and Safavid empire were in a position to sustain a net loss of their silver stock to India. For these reasons it is perhaps appropriate to reduce this figure, rather arbitrarily, to 75 metric tons of silver. Even then, this figure would serve as the upper limit for the volume of bullion exports in this period. In 1622, two ships, the Salamati and Tawakkul i Ali ("Tocolij") brought between them from Mokha an equivalent of 32 metric tons of silver belonging to the merchants of G ~ j a r a t . Two ~ ~ ) other ships arrived from Jadda and Hodeida in the same year, and one of them was described as returning "richly laden" (coostelijck g e l a ~ d e n ) . ~ Certainly, the total amount of bullion imported from ~) the Red Sea in that year was higher than the cargoes of the two ships which the Dutch factor came to know about and which he cared to enter in his journal. In 1624, the news of the safe arrival of a Diu ship was received with great joy by the merchants of Ahmadabad, Cambay and Surat since it brought an equivalent of 28 metric tons of silver in bullion and merchandise.") Besides the regular voyages of the merchant ships, an important feature of the Gujarat trade was the annual sailing of the imperial ships to the Red Sea with pilgrims and merchandise. They brought back huge quantities of bullion after distributing a part of it in charity at the holy places on behalf of the e m p e r ~ r . ~Such ') bullion consignments as were recorded for the year 1628 reached the figure of 11 metric tons of silver (see Table 3).62) While the annual imports must have varied

57) Pearson 1976: 100-1 and fn.


58) Broecke 1963: 11, 273, 275.
59) Ibid.: 275, 278.
60) Ibid.: 296-7.
61) Moosvi 1990: 308-20.
62) In 1637, Shahjahan's ship, Shahi, which was wrecked on its way to Mokha, had
reportedly lost a cargo worth 7 to 10 lakhs of rupees. Generale Missiven: I, 622.

3 12

NAJAF HAIDER

with the availability of the Red Sea going ships, the supplies which came to Mokha from the Levant and the political climate of southern one can say that on an average they stayed between 35 to 40 metric tons of silver in the first half of the seventeenth century.

Table 3. Bullion exported to Gujarat by the Red Sea (silver equivalent)


Year Amount 1,200,000 rupees 2,500,000 rupees 200,000 ducats Fine Silver (metric tons) Remarks On one imperial ship On two Gujarat ships Bullion and goods on a Diu ship On one imperial ship On Gujarat ships On one English ship On Gujarat ships On Gujarat ships and one Dutch ship On Gujarat ships On eight Gujarat ships On five Gujarat ships On Gujarat ships Total exports to Gujarat

1,200,000 fl. 1,700,000 reales [of eight] 1,000,000 reales 600 to 700,000 rupees 485,000 reales 10,000 ducats 1,167,853 reales 96 1,000 reales 1,000,000 reales 4,000 ducats 5,000,000 rupees 5,000,000 rupees 6,000,000 rupees

Source: Pearson 1976: 101; Broecke 1963: 11, 273, 275, 341; English Factories 1642-45: 17-8, 61-2, 92; 1646-50: 249; Generale Missiven: 11, 729, 800-1; Fryer 1915: 111, 163; Brouwer 1988: 73, 85; Van Santen 1982: 76, 248fn; Das Gupta 1976: 147fn, 151-2fn.

It is evident from the figures we have for the last quarter of the seventeenth century that there was an increase in the imports of Red Sea bullion to Gujarat. At the turn of the eighteenth century the figure stood at 68 metric tons of
63) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 84, pt. III, 430. The Red Sea ports had suffered intermittently as a result of recumng revolts against the Ottoman occupation of Yemen, and when the province finally gained independence in 1635, the Arab authorities at Mokha acted swiftly in reducing customs rates and giving assurances of more liberty in trading affairs to the merchants than was granted earlier by the Turks. English Factories 1634-36: 300, 307; DaghRegister 1637: 266-7.

THE MUGHAL EMPIRE

313

~ilver.~ There ) is some evidence of an expansion in this period in the number and tonnage of Gujarati shipping to the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. In 1682, an English factor at Surat sent a report to his superiors that "about sixty Junks doe yearly loade from Surat for Mocha, Cudda [Jadda], Persia and Bassora, most of whose loading consists of Callicoes, drugs and Ahmudabad silk bought in the Bazar at Surat."'j5) This was certainly a remarkable increase in the number of ships active on this route compared to the first half of the century.66) It is likely that this increase had something to do with the shift in the commodity composition of the Red Sea trade from spices to textiles, and the ability of the region in handling more products from Gujarat after becoming a net importer of European bullion when coffee began to be exported from Bait a1 Faqih and Luhayya in great quantities.'j7) However, these figures should be treated with care for measuring the supply of bullion silver in individual years. There are indications that in certain years, the component of gold was very high in the total.

Cape route and the Carreira voyages: Portuguese exports of silver


It was the enormous increase in the supply of bullion by the Carreira voyages from Lisbon which remained perhaps the most distinguishing feature of the Indian Ocean trade in the second half of the sixteenth century. From an average of 2 to 3 metric tons of silver in the first half of the century, bullion exports reached a staggering 44 metric tons in 1580.68)The predominance of silver in these exports is testified to by the sources which explicitly point to the presence of reales of eight and four and no other specie.'j9) Not all silver in the cargo of the Carreira da India was spent in India, and at least a quarter of the total

64) Das Gupta 1976: 147n. 65) Letter Book: vol. 7, la. Of the eight big ships owned by the merchants trading at Surat and employed on the Red Sea run in 1694, five belonged to Abdul Ghafur (Faizbakhsh of 500 tons, Faiz rasan and Khuda bakhsh of 300 tons each, Fath i Muhammadi of 234 tons and Fazl i Ali of 167 tons). The others were owned by Sulaiman ji (Welcome of 267 tons), Shaikh Ahmad (Ahmadi of 667 tons) and Yusuf Sakhi (Hurmuz Merchant of 500 tons). Factory Records, Surat: vol. 94, 56b; vol. 5, 163b. 66) The number of ships calling at the Red Sea ports are estimated as follows: 22 to 24 in 1616; 7 in 1621; 4 in 1622; 24 in 1623; and 6 in 1628. Brouwer 1991: 128-67; 1992: 29-30. 67) Ovington 1929: 271. At the principal markets of Yemen, coffee could be bought only with cash, preferably reales of eight. Das Gupta 1976: 132-33, 136-7. Also see Tuchscherer 1993: 168, 172-3. 68) Magalhaes-Godinho 1969: 329-32, 491. The figures are given in crusados of 400 reis. One mark of silver (229.5 grams) was rated in Portugal at 2700 reis from 1578 to 1588. After 1588, each cmsado was rated at 2800 reis. 69) Linschoten clearly states that "the most and greatest ware that is commonly sent into

3 14

NAJAF HAJDER

exports was taken to China. We have already referred to the mode of this redistribution, and Fitch estimated it, in the last quarter of the century, at 250,000 crusados per ann~m.~O) Silver retained in India was employed, along with the capital raised from trade and customs, to finance both the coastal and international trade. A sizeable portion of the total capital investment by the Portuguese-over one third-was directed towards trade with the individual regions of the Mughal empire.71)It was organised on the basis of a close coordination between the Carreira and Casado (regional trade of the resident Portuguese) voyages. At varying intervals, a fleet of Portuguese merchant boats ("cafila"), escorted by a galley or two, sailed from Goa to Cambay and Laharibandar to buy textiles and indigo.72)It was this cavalcade which was observed with awe and alarm by English and Dutch merchants from their ships lying off the Surat coast.73)While a part of the cargo brought to Goa, mainly textiles, was meant for the markets of Malacca, a substantial portion of it was reserved for the annual voyages to Lisbon. It is possible to estimate the size of this trade from the figures of Portuguese imports given by James Boyajian, derived from the descriptions of the Carreira cargo as declared at the Casa da India (Lisbon) or as recorded by independent observers on the arrival of ships from India. Among the two regular items, which covered almost the entire value exported by the Mughal empire, indigo stood out as a high value product in terms of its weight and thus fetched a price higher than pepper in the markets of L i ~ b o n . ~ ~ ) in terms of the total value But exported, textiles from Sind and Gujarat, and to a lesser extent Bengal,75)had
India, are rials of eight. . ." Linschoten 1885: I, 11, 186-7. Also see Pyrard 1888: 1 1 , ii, 193, 211; Magalhaes-Godinho 1969: 328-30. 70) Fitch 1921: 41; For the Potuguese exports of silver to China from Goa see Boxer 1959: 7; Atwell 1982: 75. 71) Boyajian 1993: 55, 67, 69. 72) Downton 1939: 113; Moreland 1962: 224-5. 73) Best 1934: 34; Dutch Factories 1617-23: 151. 74) Boyajian 1993: 45-6. The average price of indigo, 45 crusados per quintal given in the documents and adopted by Boyajian for his calculations, is used here too. The danger of working with a single price quotation is manifest and the only argument one can suggest in favour of this figure is that it does not refer to the prime cost of any particular variety of indigo. Rather, it represents the average cost of transporting indigo from Gujarat, including apparently, the customs paid on both exported commodity and imported bullion as well as other costs of transaction. Hence, despite its apparent shortcomings, it is incidentally more convenient for our purpose in estimating the value of the total outlay. That merchants calculated the total cost of indigo shipped from India by including customs payments, interests on loans, costs of remitting cash to the market and transport charges can be seen from the accounts sent by a Dutch factor from Agra. Bronnen 1611-38: 513-4. 75) The English reported from Patna in 1620, that the Portuguese imports to Bihar and Bengal comprised mainly spices and Chinese silk, while from these regions they exported

THE MUGHAL EMPIRE

315

the highest share.76) There will be little doubt that, from the pattern we have observed of India's foreign trade, almost the entire export to Lisbon was paid for in precious metals, mainly silver, and whatever merchandise the Portuguese brought to supplement their bullion capital was likely to have been less than the value of indigo and textiles meant for the regional and South-East Asian markets. Thus, the assumption here is that the estimated value of these imports in silver effectively represents the volume of Portuguese exports of bullion into the Mughal empire.

Table 4. Estimates of Portuguese Exports of Precious Metals


to the Mughal Empire: 1.586-1631
(silver equivalent in metric tons)

Year Gujarat and Sind Bengal Annual Total

") Annual Average Source: Boyajian 1993: Appendix A, 247-53

coyyon textiles, silk fabrics and "coarse carpets of Junapoore". Factory Records, Patna: vol. 1, 3. Also see English Factories 1618-21: 213-4. 76) Boyajian 1993: 44 (Table 3). It is harder to analyse the figures available for textiles exported by the Portuguese. The figures refer to total exports to Lisbon in bales of mixed contents, the true value of which can be ascertained only by knowing the exact nature of assortments. The disb-ibution by merchants of high value products such as silk with cotton fabrics in the bales was done not only to minimise risks of loss but also to manipulate customs payments at both ends. Ibid.: 46-7. The documents designated the textiles as "roupas e sedas" (cloth and silk), and at least one source put an average value of 150 crusados on each such bale. Ibid.: 46. In considering this figure as representative of the average value of a bale of textile we are indeed assuming a certain standard in its preparation. About 90 percent of the textiles exported to Lisbon were known to be either Indian cotton or cotton and silk mixtures. Ibid.: 44, 47, 66, 67 (Table 6). The shares of Gujarat, Sind, Coromandel, Bengal and Orissa in the volume exported from India have been worked out from the figures available

316

NAJAF HAIDER

For corroboration, the estimates based on Portuguese imports from the Mughal empire are compared with the figures of revenue derived by the Habsburg crown from the Cape trade. The results of this comparison, plotted on the graph below, suggest a close correlation between the two sets of figures.

Graph 1. Crown revenue and Portuguese trade

1587 1588 1589 1590 1591 1592 1593 1594 1595 1596 1597 1598

Years Source: (A) Rooney 1994: 548 (Table 3). (B) Derived from figures used in Table 4 above.

During the quinquennium 1586-90, the hlgh point of Portuguese trade with the Mughal empire, the average annual export of silver was 11.22 metric tons. The amount was considerable enough to upset the gold-silver ratio on the westem coast as well as the monetary policies of the Estado da India. The demand for reales was so high from Sind and Gujarat on the one hand and Bengal, Malacca and China on the other, that Goa had to regulate the profit on moneychanging with a view to favouring the expansion of Luso-Indian coinage.77) However, whenever such restrictions were put up, they had to be withdrawn soon in the face of a huge demand for silver. In 1583, when the outflow of reales to western India was prohibited, local merchants rushed to Goa with an enormous quantity of gold to obtain the specie.78)A decade later, a law established the compulso~y registration of reales which were exported to Gujarat and a list of persons permitted to participate in this trade was drawn up. Exports to China and Malacca, however, remained entirely free from restrictions during
for their respective contributions to the total value delivered in Lisbon. These calculations provide us with an estimate of 78 percent as the share of Gujarat and Sind, and 10 percent as the share of Bengal and Orissa. 77) Magalhaes-Godinho 1969: 5 14-5. 78) Ibid.: 515.

THE MUGHAL EMPIRE

3 17

the monsoons, and a clash of interests became apparent between those exporting textiles from Gujarat and Sind to Malacca, who wanted a free flow of reales to western India, and those who were accustomed to carrying the specie directly to Bengal, Malacca and China.79) The impact of the continued influx of reales due to these demands was soon reflected in the gold-silver ratio of the region. Between 1582 and 1624, the price of the reale fell in terms of the saotome and the pagoda by about 30 percent. Even against the lari, which itself came in large quantities, the exchange rate of the reale fell by about 16 percent between the two dates.80) Following a general decline in the Portuguese exports of silver to India from about 26.71 metric tons in 1585 to 6.55 metric tons in 1615 and 1618,81)there was a fall in the exports to the Mughal empire as well. Compared to the last quarter of the sixteenth century, exports were reduced to almost one third in the first quarter of the seventeenth century (Table 4). A sharp downward trend had set in after 1600, when the exports fell to the lowest level in 1608. Although there were signs of revival in 1616 and 1630, for which figures are available, the annual average now remained well below 3 metric tons.") Bullion exported by the English East India Company The early voyages of the English merchants in the seventeenth century were directed towards the spice markets of South-east Asia. Even though they learnt about the great demand for Indian textiles in these markets, when Lancaster (1602) successfully bartered them for Sumatran pepper after plundering a Portuguese carrack in the Straits of Malacca, the trade with India took at least a decade to develop. In all the twelve early voyages to this region (1602-1613) the total silver exported was about 30.7 metric tons.83) Of this only a very small portion was brought to the Mughal empire by way of trade.84)It was with the first joint
79) Ibid. 80) Ibid.: 522-3. 8 1) Magalhaes-Godinho 1969: 329-32, 491. 82) General statements by contemporaries also support the quantitative estimates of the decline in the Portuguese trade with the Mughal empire. It was reported in 1621, that the number of Portuguese vessels on the Cambay run was reduced from approximately 200 in previous years to 50 or 60, and the observer considered it a veritable sign of their declining trade. Dutch Factories 1617-23: 151; Broecke 1963: 11, 302-3. Also see Pelasert 1925: 19-20; Van Dam: 11, iii, 8; Winius 1981: 120-1; Ahmad 1991: 90. A decline in the Portuguse trade of Sind is alluded to in English Factories 1637-41: 137. 83) Home Misc: vol. 39, 124; Supplementary Calendar: 4, 6; Marine Records Misc: vol. 4, 13. 84) English merchant ships called at the port of Surat respectively in 1607, 1609 and 1612, in an attempt to seek favourable terms and commence regular trade with the Mughal empire. These were Hector, which brought William Hawkins to the court of Jahangir, Ascen-

Table 5. English Exports of Precious Metals to Gujarat (silver equivalent)


Year Quinquennial Total

(1

Quinquennial Total (metric tons)

Annual Average (metric tons)

4 years

b,

3 years

4 years

Source: Home Miscellaneous:vol. 15,15-30,39-61,70-6,107-33,135-48,167-208;General Ledgers: vol. 9, 121-6; vol. 10, 137, 139; Court Book: vol. 4, 96-7; vol. 16, 149; vol. 17, 41, 46, 65; vol. 18, 78; vol. 19, 246, 438, 443-4; vol. 20, 151b, 250a, 253a; Letter Book: vol. 1, 78, 170, 231, 339; vol. 2, 55, 90, 174, 183, 216-7, 295; vol. 3, 6b, 57a-b, 127a, 195a, 206b, 238b; vol. 4, 5,101, 147-8, 221, 231-2, 320-1, 431-2, 530-1; vol. 5, 15b-16a, 52b, 53b, 58a, 64b, 88a-b, 134a-135b, 208a, 209a, 271b-272a, 280a; vol. 6, 12b-13a, 50a, 51b, 53a-b, 70b, 178b, 179a, 208a, 256a-b, 282b, 291a; vol. 7, 24a, 69b, 71a-b, 75b, 183b, 198a; vol. 8, 67b; Factory Records, Surat: vol. 1, 18, 114; vol. 5, 68a; vol. 92, 2; ibid., Rajapur: vol. 1, 31b, 37a-b, 47a; ibid., Miscellaneous: vol. 25, 34-9; Downton: 170, 200; Supplementary Calendar: 69, 70, 83, 86, 88-9, 90, 92, 136, 138, 139, 151, 152; English Factories, 1618-21: 29, 53-4, 64-5, 130, 185, 190, 202-3,206-7, 218, 282, 310-11; 1622-3: 166, 167, 182; 1624-9: 55, 103, 111, 213, 235, 295; 1630-3: 5-6, 32-3, 123, 205, 246, 262-3, 286, 291, 323; 1634-6: 68-9, 318; 1637-41: 62, 103, 204; 1642-5: 28, 61, 175, 209-11; 1646-50: 327-8; 1651-4: 28-29, 31; 1655-60: 59, 152, 207-8, 320; 1661-4: 22, 23n., 95-6, 99, 171, 198-9, 326; 1665-7: 169, 280; 1668-9: 13; English Factories (NS): I, 230 and n.; 111, 239-40, 280-81; Letters Received: VI, 164; Dutch Factories: 123; Moreau 1825: 5; Bruce 1810: I, 213, 234; Wylde: 3-8; Calendar of State Papers: 373-4; 0. C. 1543 A: 16; Court Minutes: 304; Generale Missiven: 11,628.

sion, which was wrecked off the Gujarat coast, and the fleet captained by Thomas Best which successfully repelled a Portuguese onslaught.

THE MUGHAL EMPIRE

319

stock voyage of 1614 that regular shipment of bullion from England began to arrive in Gujarat which continued almost without interruption till the middle of the eighteenth century. Tables 5 and 6 are based on the figures collected from invoices of the bullion ships and the correspondence of the recipient factories. English exports of bullion to Gujarat fluctuated between 1.5 and 6.4 metric tons from 1614 to 1672 with an average of 3.3 metric tons per year.85) The exports were virtually suspended during the second Anglo-Dutch war, and a total of less than half a metic ton of silver was sent during 1665-67. There was a significant rise in the exports from 1675 and the annual average touched the maximum mark of 11.8 metric tons during 1680-89, an important reason for which was to drive the "interlopers" out of the market.86)

Table 6. English Exports of Precious Metals to Bengal (silver equivalent in metric tons)
Year Quinquennial Total Annual Average

")

3 years

b,

4 years

Source: Ibid.

Precious Metals Exported by the Dutch East India Company


The Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) entered Asian waters with the objective of trading in the Indonesian archipelago and the spice islands, and in the first two decades of the seventeenth century never considered it opportune to divert its investments to the Gujarat-Malacca textile trade on any significant scale.87)It was only in the third decade, following a sharp reduction in
85) The figures are inclusive of the supplies received from Iran, Mokha and Bantam by the English. 86) English Factories (NS), 1678-84: 1 1 1 , 292. 87) Dutch Factories 1617-23: 1 1 1-2, 114-5. The problem of obtaining suitable trading privileges, including the establishment of a factory at Surat, may have deterred the Company in the beginning from commiting itself fully to this branch of trade. The Portuguese were still dominant on the western coast, and the Mughal officials were not forthcoming in granting the Dutch a carte blanche for fear of upsetting the existing arrangements. But once certain rights were granted by an official decree, the problem of availability of adequate capital soon

320

NAJAF HAIDER

the bullion supply from Amsterdam due to renewed conflicts with Spain, that the Company's search for an alternative source of capital began in great earnest to finance its spice trade.88)The expansion in the Dutch trade with the Mughal empire from 1622 came at a time when the Company had discovered a new source of silver in Japan, obtained in exchange for Chinese raw silk and gold, which supplemented to a very large extent the bullion sent from Batavia to finance its investments in the textiles and indigo of Agra and G ~ j a r a t . ~ ~ )
Table 7. Dutch Exports of Precious Metals to Gujarat (silver equivalent)
Year Annual Total fl. Metric tons Year Annual Total fl. Metric tons

Note: The conversion into fine silver is based on the following values: 1 tael = 30 grams fine silver = 3.125 fl. before 1636 and 2.85 fl. thereafter. 1 reale of eight = 2.5 fl. (till 1656). 1 abbasi = 0.8 fl. Dagh Register 1641: 376; Generale Missiven: 1 1 , 207, 215; Uytrekening 1691: 28; Boxer 1959: Appendix, 338. Source: Coen: 111,96; V, 588; Broecke 1963: 1 1 , 312-3, 347; Bronnen: 122, 124, 126, 130, 1 , 94, 202, 215, 224, 133-4, 143-4, 264-5, 269, 548-51; Generale Missiven: I, 280, 509; 1 264, 273, 292, 316, 336, 364, 567; Dagh Register 1624-29: 64; 1636: 205; 1637: 264-5; 1640-41: 175, 376; 1641-42: 74, 184, 192; 1643-44: 163, 178, 188, 191, 193; 1644-45: 229, 239, 241-2; English Factories 1618-21: 325; 1637-41, 215; 1642-45: 22, 167; Supplementary Calendar 1928: 143; Radwan 1978: 68; Van Santen 1982: 37; Alam 1993. became apparent. Ibid.: 59-61, 73, 79, 81-3, 90, 95. For a lucid description of the Company's early years in Gujarat see Radwan 1978: 21-51. Also see Winius and Vink 1994: 23-4. 88) Dutch exports of precious metals from the Netherlands declined from an average of 1.48 million guilders between 1621 and 1623 to 0.47 million guilders between 1624 and 1626. Bruijn, Gaastra, and Schoffer 1979: 228 (Appendix IV, Table 46). 89) Israel 1989: 124, 130, 177-9. Israel also attributes a rise in the Dutch exports of indigo from western India to the Spanish embargo which caused a soaring in the price of Guatemalan indigo at Amsterdam. The export of Japanese silver to Gujarat was first reported in

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During 1621-1626, the average annual export of precious metals to Gujarat the Dutch was under 2 metric tons of silver. The exports rose dramatically 162790)and thereafter remained, on an average, at around 6 metric tons till about 1651. The pattern of Dutch trade with Gujarat changed significantly from the late 1650s. Now, the Company was largely financing its exports with spices, Japanese copper (occasionally gold), tin and gold imported from Iran.91) Not only was the supply of bullion discontinued, coined silver from Surat was exported in large quantities to the Dutch factories of Ceylon, Bengal and Bata~ia.~~) Table 8. Dutch Exports of Precious Metals to Bengal (silver equivalent)
Year Total fl. Total metric tons Annual Average metric tons

")

4 years

Note: The conversion into fine silver is done at the rate of 1 reale of eight = 25.7 grams fine silver = 3 fl. Bruijn, Gaastra and Schoffer 1979: 225. Since coins were reckoned at a premium in the money of accounts, this conversion would slightly underestimate the bullion component of the exports as opposed to specie. Source: Prakash 1988: 66 (Table 3.2).

1624. Dagh Register 1624-29: 64. Following the Bakufu's ban on Japanese participation in overseas trade in 1635, the VOC succeeded in obtaining the lion's share of the Sino-Japanese trade. Its annual exports of Japanese silver surged from 2.37 metric tons in 1622-26 to 11.71 metric tons in 1632-36 and 14.93 metric tons in 1642-46, which was maintained till at least 1661. Figures calculated from Kato 1981: 224 (Table 2); Nachod 1897: CCVIII (Table E. Silber-Ausfuhr). 90) The value of total cargo, including bullion, sent in 1626 to Gujarat and Iran was fl. 177, 347. In 1627, the value was fl. 930, 115. Dagh Register 1624-29: 276, 326. 91) Generale Missiven: II, 707; 111, 39, 173; IV, 548; English Factories 16.55-60: 56. In 1674, for instance, the Dutch at Surat sold spices and other commodities for more than 9 lakhs of rupees. Generale Missiven: IV, 15. 92) Generale Missiven: 111, 744, 764, 775; IV, 75-6, 593, 739. In 1666, the Dutch carried Surat rupees to the value of 60,000 to Ceylon. Historical Manuscripts 1913: 306-7.

3 22 Conclusion

NAJAF HAIDER

After having surveyed, admittedly with discontinuous data, one and half centuries of bullion exports to the Mughal empire, we can now bring all our estimates together to suggest a range of figures for the total supplies at intervals for which we are better served by information: 1588-1602, 1630-45 and 167985. During the first interval, the export of bullion from Hurmuz was 41.7 metric tons, and if we assume that two thirds of this amount was brought to the Mughal empire (not an implausible assumption in view of the enormous importance of Gujarat and Sind in this network), we get a figure of 27.8 metric tons of silver. To this can be added a figure of 10 metric tons of silver annually exported from Iran by the land route at the turn of the century.93) For the Red Sea, we have accepted a figure of 75 metric tons of silver based on a downward revision of Pearson's estimates of its total value of trade with Gujarat in the second half of the sixteenth century. The average amount of bullion annually exported by the Portuguese to the Mughal empire from 1586 to 1590 is estimated at 11.2 metric tons. Together, these estimates yield a cumulative figure of 124 metric tons of silver annually exported to the Mughal empire during the last quarter of the sixteenth century. For the second interval, we have the figures of 40 and 30 metric tons of silver imported respectively by the Red Sea and from Iran (land and sea route).94) The annual average of the English and Dutch exports in this period was 5.2 and 6.6 metric tons respectively. The Portuguese trade with Gujarat, and with Bengal, till the destruction of their factory at Hugli in 1632,95)was still operative and though it is not possible to quantify it for the entire phase we are discussing, from the last two figures in Table 4 we can put their bullion supply at around 3 metric tons of silver per year. The total supply of bullion in this period would thus be around 84.8 tons of silver per annum. The choice of the last interval for our calculations is dictated by the figures available for the Red Sea. The figure for both 1679 and 1685, being 56 metric tons of silver, lower than the last quarter of the sixteenth century, was still higher than the first half of the seventeenth century. This, as we saw, was primarily

93) This is derived by reducing the value of land trade to Iran (16 to 20 metric tons of silver) estimated for the years when it registered a four-fold increase following a decline in the sea trade. The volume of this trade seems to have been naturally affected by the renewal of the Hurmuz trade judging from the figures we have for c. 1634 (1 1.6 metric tons of silver). The latter figure has been rounded off to 10 metric tons. 94) There is abundant evidence that trade on the land route had declined due to the Mughal-Safavid conflicts over Qandhar. See Moosvi 1987: 66. 95) Lahori 1867-8: I, 433-9 has a detailed description of the Mughal expedition against the Portuguese.

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due to an increase in the Indian Ocean trade of the Mughal empire. No figures are available for Iran and we have to adopt the earlier estimates with an upward revision (to take into account the rise) to 40 metric tons. For the same period, the calculated annual average of English and Dutch exports to the Mughal empire is 25.1 and 9.7 metric tons of silver respectively. The cumulative estimate for this phase can be set at 130.8 metic tons of silver.

Table 9. Bullion Imports of the Mughal Empire (silver equivalent in metric tons)
Source

1588-1602

% of the total

% of the total

1679-85 30.0 10.0 56.0


-

% of the total

Persian Gulf Isfahan-Agra Red Sea Portuguese English Dutch Total

22.9 7.6 42.8


-

25.1 9.7 130.8

19.2 7.4 100.0

The Gold Imports


Our evidence for gold imports is too scanty to offer even the type of quantitative estimates we have been able to make for silver, and there can only be a general idea regarding the periods in which these imports were more significant. The first half of the sixteenth century was a period of the dominance of gold in the Indian Ocean trade, and the "river of gold" which flowed through the Red Sea brought to the Indian Ocean markets a multitude of gold coins (Egyptian ashrafi, Ottoman sultani and Yemeni dinar), all modelled originally on the Venetian zechhino (sequin; ducat) which itself came in large quantities.96) Unlike the inland regions of northern India, foreign gold coins circulated with greater freedom on the coasts of the western Deccan and Malabar, made possible by the organisation of the regional currency systems in order to accommodate not only imported gold coins but also to facilitate trade and exchange within the region.97) The gold of Africa was exported to Gujarat either from
96) Barbosa 1989: I, 100-1; Pires 1967: I, 13, 17, 21, 43-4; Bacharach 1973: 77-96; 1987: 171; Pamuk 1994: 954. For the Red Sea gold plundered by the Portuguese on its way to India, see Magalhaes-Godinho 1969: 293-4. 97) Both Conti and De Gama found in the fifteenth century Venetian sequins and gold ashrafis among the coins circulating in Malabar. Conti 1857: 30; Cabral 1938: 194; MagalhaesGodinho 1969: 294.

324

N N A F HAIDER

Cairo or the Indian Ocean ports of Malindi and S ~ f a l a . ~ 'It ) was out of this gold, acquired from both trade and tribute from the Deccan, that Sultan Muzaffar Shah of Gujarat and his successors were able to strike the muzaffarshahi (185 grains), which was the heaviest gold coin ever issued by a medieval Indian ruler with the sole exception of Jahangir.99) In contrast, as we saw, the imports in the second half of the sixteenth century were dominated by silver, and gold seems to have been brought, at least in the Mughal empire, in very small quantities. Abul Fazl's description of the foreign coins delivered to the Mughal mints does not list any gold coins, while his account of gold minting gives an impression that gold had to be drawn by the sarrafs from private hoards."') In the seventeenth century, gold was brought both by the Europeans and the Asian merchants. The exports from Iran until 1660 were mainly in silver, but after 1666 gold began to replace silver in greater quantities.'O1) However, from 1684 onwards, silver exports to the Mughal empire were revived once again.Io2) As for the Red Sea shipments of gold, evidence for this is desultory. From our discussion of this trade, it can be seen that in the first half of the seventeenth century, gold ducats were carried on the ships and by the merchant caravans between the Levant and Gujarat in varying proportions (4 to 27 percent). For the second half, the evidence suggests that gold came to Gujarat in increasing quantities from this region between 1665 and 1682.Io3) Silver was the principal item in the shipments of the English Company to Gujarat and Bengal and gold made its appearance for two short durations. In the first phase (1627-1637), the share of gold was around 50 percent of the total value of bullion, while in the second (1674-85) it was about 20 percent. Incidentally, both these phases coincided with a fall in the silver price of gold in the Mughal empire, and the losses suffered by the Company in exchanging gold for rupees forced it to return to silver on both o c c a ~ i o n s . ' ~ ~ ) Dutch exports of gold to Gujarat depended very largely on the availability of Chinese gold as well as supplies from the Netherlands, a major portion of which
98) Ethiopian Itineraries 1958: 173; Cabral 1938: 65. 99) For tribute from the Deccan in a gold coin called "Ibrahimi du baiti" (do buti!) see Khan 1927: I, 24, 76. 100) Abul Fazl 1872: I, 31-2. In 1604, European exports to the Levant were mainly in silver (Texeira 1902: 120), and in the Venetian exports for 1610-14, gold was only 0.29 percent of the total bullion (Spooner 1962: 645-55). 101) Du Mans 1890: 192; Tavernier 1679: I, 418; English Factories 1665-67: 95. 102) Sanson 1695: 12-4, 159-61. 103) English Factories 1665-67: 95; Factory Records, Surat: vol. 3, 83-4; vol. 90,93b-94a. 104) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 4, 116a; vol. 102, 525; English Factories, 1624-29: 221, 230, 235, 270, 295; 1630-33: 262-3; English Factories ( N S ) , 1678-84: 111, 240, 270; Lawrence 1677-9: 54a, 63b; Generale Missiven: IV, 8.

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325

was however meant to be exported not to Surat but to the regions, such as Coromandel, where gold was in currency.Io5) The periods of high prices of gold in the Mughal empire might have provided an inducement to increase the share of gold exported there but its availability at the point of shipment was still the all important factor in deciding the composition of the bullion con~ignrnents.'~~) Until 1668, the VOC exports of bullion to Bengal mainly consisted of silver.Io7) Following a ban on the export of Japanese silver in that year, gold, in the form of Japanese kobans, was substituted.lo8)Between 1670 and 1673, the VOC's average annual export of kobans from Japan was 948 kgs of fine gold,Iw) and it was in these years that the share of gold in the exports to Bengal reached very high proportions (75 to 80 percent)."O) However, the decision taken by the Japanese authorities to contain the outflow of koban by overvaluing it by 21 percent in 1670-72"') soon resulted in a decline in its export to an average of 353 kgs of gold per annum between 1675 and 1679.Il2) It seems that, while on an average gold imports may have fluctuated between an estimated 10 to 15 percent every year, there are two phases which stand out as years of high imports: 1627-37 and 1670-82. Recently, Spanish records have revealed that there was indeed a drop in the American silver arriving in Spain in the 1670s, and that the "annual plata fleet was importing gold in surprisingly large scale . . ."lk3)

105) Generale Missiven: I, 709; 11, 323, 394; 111, 30. 106) In 1625, when gold appreciated greatly in Gujarat and North India, Dutch exports 1 , 312-3. In 1638, when gold price was consisted exclusively of gold ducats. Broecke 1963: 1 low, the Dutch exported 300,000 fl. worth of Chinese gold which was an impressive figure by their standard. Generale Missiven: I, 709; Supplementary Calendar: 139. Gold began to rise again in value after 1640, having fallen in the intervening period. Habib 1987: 148 (Table 3). Between 1641 and 1647, Dutch exports from Batavia and Japan were entirely in silver. The reference to gold in Generale Missiven: 11, 202 is clearly a mistake as other sources only mention silver in the cargo of the ship Pauw. See the sources cited for Table 7. Also see English Factories 1642-45: 100, 145. 107) Generale Missiven: 11, 394, 707; 111, 1, 30, 61, 101; Prakash 1988: 65, 67 and n. 108) Glamann 1981: 58, 63; Gaastra 1986: 103. For the exports of koban to Bengal see Generale Missiven: 111, 714; IV, 91, 144, 197. 109) Nachod 1897: CCVII (Table D). The original figures are given in number of kobans, each of which contained 15.64 grams of pure gold. Van Dam 1929: I, ii, 92. 110) Prakash 1988: 6711. 111) Glamann 1981: 63. 112) Nachod 1897: CCVII (Table D). 1 13) Chaudhuri 1986: 70-1.

3 26

NAJAF HAlDER

Bullion Market and Mint Production


There is enough contemporary evidence to suggest that much of the bullion and foreign specie obtained through trade was brought to the mints of the empire to be struck into rupees (Mughal silver coins of 179 grains) and muhrs (gold coins of 169 grains).l14) Cognisant of the growing importance of precious metals for sustaining currency circulation, commodity trade and taxation, the Mughal state policy towards bullion imports and minting was shaped by both fiscal and mercantile consideration^.^^^) The customs duties on silver and gold (1 to 2.5 percent) were always kept lower than those on merchandise (2 to 5 percent) and were increased to 3.5 percent, probably under fiscal pressure, only towards the end of the seventeenth ~entury."~) The mints had an open coinage system in which freedom to obtain Mughal coins was granted to bullion suppliers on payment of minting cost (brassage) and seigniorage. The Mughal currency itself was usually of a very high degree of fineness and was accepted at a premium over and above its weight in fine metal. The thrust of the policy was thus to allow the merchants access to a market free from currency manipulations and administrative interventions. In actual practice, however, merchants had to face one important problem. The coining in the mint was done by officials assigning fixed days to the merchant suppliers, which often clashed with the timetable set by them to make investments in the hinterland markets and to keep commodities ready for shipment in the right season^.^'^) While some merchants working with adequate capital could organise the supply of commodities through their factors and correspondents well in time, and a privileged few would be granted access to the mint out of their turn as a f a v o ~ r , " ~ ) majority would have to cope with the
114) Teny 1921: 302; Bernier 1989: 202-3; Ovington 1929: 132; Khan 1928: I, 304, 408; Tavernier 1925: 1, 8-9; Van Twist 1937: 72-3; Thevenot 1949: 25-6; Roques 1678: 246. There were however, certain notable exceptions to the rule. In Gujarat, foreign bullion was also coined into mahmudis, a regional coin, which circulated in certain parts of the province. In the north western part of the empire, a part of the bullion coming from Iran and Central Asia was minted into khanis of Balkh and Badakhshan. Lahori 1867-8: II, 562-3. In addition, foreign coins did circulate quietly in the coastal areas to settle immediate transactions. Careri 1949: 253; Ovington 1929: 132. 115) Abul Fazl 1872: 1, 12-3; Khan 1928: I, 340. 116) Finch 1921: 134; Oxenden Papers 40702: 22b; English Factories 1655-60: 243-5; Tavernier 1925: I, 7; 11, 21; Ovington 1929: 132; Factory Records, Surat, vol. 96: 20b; Letter Book, vol. 8: 24b. Compare this with the levy of 5 percent on imported silver in Safavid Iran. Chardin 1811: V, 356. 117) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 4, 101b-102a; vol. 5, 145a; ibid., Miscellaneous: vol. 24: 22, 24, 31; Bodleian Rawlinson MS. A 302: 250b-251a; English Factories (NS): II, 390. 118) Letters Received: V, 86-7. See Surat Documents: 3 and 4 for permission granted to

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327

delays in the availability of cash to serve their investment plan^."^) It was this particular problem which made the presence of the money-changers (sarraj~) in the bullion market extremely important as buyers of imported bullion. In their capacity as bullion buyers they were in a unique position to assay precious metals and coins (hence the name sarraf from Arabic sayraj, money-testing) as well to fix their value in the market.Iz0) The sarrafs' profession brought them close not only to the merchants but also to the mint. They were often appointed in the latter as assayers,12') and as a professional group outside the mint helped the administration in re~0inage.I~~) All this granted them ready access to the mint, and several sarrafs had their places reserved for them in the mint from where they supervised their business.Iz3)Apart from dealing in currency, the sarrafs also organised commercial credit, and their position as deposit bankers and discounters of bills of exchange (hundi) enabled them not only to supply the bullion seller with the cash he immediately required but also to provide the facility to transfer funds from one place to another.124) It thus became quite natural for a merchant who had just cleared his bullion out of the custom house to look for a sarraf who could be approached either directly or through a broker. The sarrafs made their profits out of the wholesale buying of all kinds of bullion, foreign and regional coins which they took to the mint as and when they found it suitable. Their ability to strike a good bargain depended on the timings at which the sale of the bullion took place as well as the competitive price they offered to the ~el1ers.l~~)
two reputable merchants (umdat ut tujjar) of Surat to coin money. The English too were exempted from taking turns in the mint towards the end of the seventeenth century. Factory Records, Surat: vol. 5, 188a-b. 119) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 4, 102a; Letter Book: vol. 8, 24b; English Factories, 1661-64: 22; Das Gupta 1979: 46. 120) Van Twist 1931: 73; Roques 1678: 245, 248. 121) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 5, 179a. 122) Abul Fazl, Akbarnama, OIOC MS. Add. 27247: 332b. In the reign of Aurangzeb, the sarrafs of Ahmadabad were ordered to bring to the mint all the silver coins which had lost in weight up to 3 surkha (a little over 3 percent) for reminting. Khan 1928: I, 327-8. 123) This was a privilege rarely extended to the merchants, and the success of the English in securing one such place for themselves in 1694, amidst strong opposition from the sarrafs, was worth all the efforts they had put up working for it in previous decades. For the Surat mint see Factory Records, Surat: vol. 94, 50a, 52b, 68b, 71a. For Rajrnahal see ibid., Hugli: vol. 10, 185. The factor appointed here to look after the Company's bullion however pleaded to be transferred away from "the unwholesome fumes & the unreasonable heat." 124) "The merchants that buy gold and plate [silver] pay allwayes ready rnony when it is weighed to them, then they presently sent it up to Rajmaul (where the mint is) to be coined". B. L. Add. MS. 34123: 42a-b. Also see Factory Records, Surat: vol. 6, 112-3. For the use of bills of exchange in bullion transactions see Supplementary Calendar: 89; English Factories, 1655-60: 120. For an appreciation of the various branches of the sarrafs' business see Habib 1990: 391-6. 125) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 3, 108; Tavernier 1925: I, 12-3. Occasionally big mer-

328

NAJAF HAIDER

Bullion sales usually took place when the returning fleet of Indian ships brought huge quantities of silver and gold from the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. The abundance of precious metals lowered the price of bullion relative to specie as a result of the demand for Mughal coins for up-country investments or the settlement of debts.'26)The sarrafs fixed the bullion price and exchange rates of the foreign coins by skilfully evaluating the extent of precious metal content and adding the cost of minting and seigniorage.'*') They charged interest on all cash payments made to the bullion sellers, the duration of which was determined by an assessment of the time taken by the mint to coin a particular consignment.128) The deals were never concluded without tough bargaining, and the major points of contention were the market price of bullion and the duration of payment.129)The latter, agreed upon after careful calculations, was indeed central to notions of the liquidity of capital among mercantile groups. For the sarrafs, an early payment made to the bullion seller meant a loss of interest on the capital locked up in the mint. The merchant on his part counted the extra days for which interest would be due to the sarrafs, in case the minting time exceeded his own calculation^.^^^) Sales synchronising with the seasonal flow of bullion from the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf normally needed a longer duration of payment for the reason that the pressure on the mint during this time was greater and the output slower for each individual money changer or merchant.131) Referring to the sale of silver dollars to the sarrafs,the English once observed:

chants, like Virji Vora, driven apparently by the need to invest surplus cash, would compete with the sarrafs by offering a higher price for the bullion. English Factories, 1630-33: 262-3; 1646-50: 281. 126) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 4, 180b-181a; vol. 90, 93b-94a; Terpstra 1918: 210; Van Twist 1931: 73; Supplementary Calendar: 88-9; English Factories, 1618-21: 7-8; 164650: 240; 1655-60: 21111.; Tavernier 1925: I, 21-2; Roques 1678: 246. 127) English Factories, 1646-50: 185, 316; Factory Records, Surat: vol. 5, 157a; Master 1911: 11, 303-5. A qualitative method of assaying by touch-needles was used for silver and gold in the mint and the bullion market. Quantitative testing was done mainly for uncoined bullion by melting and refining it to the standard of the Mughal coins. Abul Fazl 1872: I, 14-5, 16-9; Roques 1678: 247; Tavernier 1925: I, 28-9; Factory Records, Dacca: vol. 1, 80b; ibid., Surat: vol. 5, 17Oa-b. 128) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 105, 133a. "They [the sarrafs] take 15 to 20 days to pay you in rupees and discount on the same day in order to make good the interest at 314 and 112 percent. It is a custom that one can not shake them from.. . I have seen up to 90 days of term when the mint is well supplied and the less it works the more shorter the duration of payment." Roques 1678: 246-7. 129) Original Correspondence 2062: 190a; 2216: 1-2; Factory Records, Surat: vol. 4, 51a; English Factories, 1678-84 (NS): HI, 270. 130) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 3, 108; vol. 4, 51a; vol. 5, 129b-130a, 196a-b; vol. 84, pt. n, 153. 131) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 4, 180b-181a; vol. 90, 183a.

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329

sheroffes here are certainly the greatest masters of their art, of any people in these parts of the world. . ., where dollers are sold according to their kinds. The only trouble and difficulty in their disposing is in agreeing for the time; and in weighing and looking ones; which they doe with great exactness and deliberation, the better to discover what is false and counterfeit. .

The Mughal mint was an integral part of the bullion market and merchant suppliers were drawn to it for comparable advantages. The mint price of bullion was higher than the market price, and for this reason alone it received huge quantities of bullion directly brought by the merchants.133) Though it functioned essentially as a craft centre, where labourers and skilled artisans were engaged in mass production under the close supervision of a set of officials, the economic significance of the mint was undeniably greater than the rest of the Mughal artisanal workshops which produced mainly for imperial and elite con~umption.'~ ~ ) techniques employed for making coins were simple and perThe formed by manual labour, as was the case in contemporary Iran and T ~ r k e y . ' ~ ~ ) Tavernier, the peripatetic French jeweller, testified to the fact that all gold and silver brought to the Mughal Empire was refined to the highest standard before it was coined into money.'36) This was a common belief of almost all the

132) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 90, 93b-94a. The English usually sold their bullion to the sarrafs for the reason, among others stated above, that the entire transaction was done at their factories where the buyers were called in to assess the bullion and make payments either in cash or bills of exchange. They also exercised their option, though not so frequently, to use the services of the mint. English Factories, 1634-36: 55, 68-9, 225-6; 1642-45: 91; Original Correspondence 5461: 12; Factory Records, Surat: vol. 3, 38; vol. 4, 115b; vol. 5, 63b, 70a; ibid., Dacca: vol. 1, 68b, 80b-81a; ibid., Qasimbazar: vol. 1, 4; ibid., Balasore: vol. 134a; Master 1911: I, 382; 11, 303-4. The Dutch merchants too alternated between the mint and the bullion market, but it seems that in Bengal, where they brought considerable amounts of treasure, the preference for using the mint directly was based on the detailed calculations they made about the cost effectiveness of the two methods. For their annual accounts of the Rajmahal mint see Van Dam 1929: I, ii, 79-86 (1687), and Appendix VI (1689-90) for a comparative assessment. For the bullion sold to Qasimbazar sarrafs see ibid.: 69, and Dagh-Register, 1637: 264-5 for Surat. For the Dutch coining their bullion at the Surat mint see English Factories, 1634-36: 68-9; Perlin 1987: 351 (Table 4.1.1). Also see Prakash 1987: 173-4, 189 for a discussion of the Dutch policy towards the disposal of their bullion in Bengal. 133) Van Dam 1929: I, ii, Appendix VI (1689-90). Also see English Factories, 1646-50: 185; Factory Records, Dacca: vol. 1, 23a-b, 39b; Khan 1928: I, 408. 134) The mint was frequently recorded as a manufactory (karkhana) in Mughal documents. Kaghzat i Mutafarriqa: 57a-58b. For a recent treatment of the mint as a medieval workshop see Perlin 1993: 91-130. 135) For Safavid Iran see Samia 1943: 36a-39b. A mechanical process of production was introduced in the Ottoman Empire towards the end of the seventeenth century as a result of which the daily production of copper coins in the Istanbul mint rose to 600,000. By 1695, the mints of Edirne and Izmir too had begun production with the help of new machinery. Sahillioglu 1992: 262-6. 136) Tavernier 1925: I, 8-9.

330

NMAF HAIDER

commentators on Mughal coinage in the seventeenth century, borne out by the high fineness of the coins themselves (98 percent and above according to a recent test going to be published soon), and we get detailed information in records relating to coin production on the methods of refining gold and silver. A proper organisation of the mints was viewed by the state as a matter of both commercial and fiscal i~nportance.'~') For Abul Fazl, a thoughtful commentator on Akbar's administrative measures, the successful working of the mint was linked to the prosperity of the empire. He thus devoted a detailed section of his work to the organisation of the mint, preceded by a prologue on the significance of money as a means of exchange, and the properties of precious metals which could be better tested and analysed in the mints of the empire.138) In a separate section entitled "the profit of bullion merchants" he offered a statistical account of the costs of manufacturing different coins with a complete breakdown of the costs of labour and raw materials, seigniorage and the profit of the bull7on merchant~.'~~) From Abul Fazl and later sources we get the impression that the mint was a fairly centralised institution, which was run in accordance with the imperial regulations communicated to the officials either directly or through the provincial The latter held an indirect control over the mint for its revadmini~tration.'~~) enue and for the policies relating to the supply of money in the pr0~ince.l~~) The higher bureaucracy of the mint was a mere extension of the general administrative structure of the Mughal empire in which the superintendent (darogha) and an imperial official of the same rank (amin) implemented the imperial
137) Mint organisation figured prominently in the administrative and financial literature of the medieval Indo-Islamic world, and the attention of rulers and administrators was drawn to achieving the good-will of the people through a better organised currency system. Ibn Khaldun 1958: II, 3, 7, 54-60; Owen 1955: 75-76; Samia 1943: text 34a-40b. 138) Abul Fazl 1872: I, 12-23. The section dealing with the mint is contained in the Ain i Daruzzarb. The Mughal chancery used the term dar uz zarb for the mint while it was commonly called taksal in the Indian languages. Abul Fazl sometimes calls the mint a sikkakhana, probably to avoid using Arabic terms. Ibid. 12. 139) Ibid. 31-3 (Ain i sud i bazargan i tala wa nuqra). In what is perhaps the only surviving mint record of the Mughal empire, preserved in an administrative manual, we get another statistical account of an eastern mint towards the end of Shahajahan's reign (1657). Dastur ul Amal i Alamgiri: 53b-58a. The manual itself was written in 1659, but the record belongs to the year 1657. 140) Document Forms: 223a-b; Bihari 1714: 37a-39a. For instructions which the mint officials received from the emperor see Factory Records, Surat: vol. 5, 151a-b; ibid., vol. 1, 182-3; Lawrence 1677-9: 556. 141) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 5, 145a, 151b, 173a-b, 185a. A report sent to the emperor Aurangzeb from Ahmadabad offers an insight into the working of these officials in matters relating to the mint. Khan 1928: I, 265. It shows that lines were firmly drawn between local autonomy and central control in fixing or relaxing rules for the administration of the mint.

THE MUGHAL EMPIRE

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instructions relating to the shape, weight and fineness of coins, and the mint revenue.142)Supervision was immediately followed by accounting where the professional accountant of the mint (mushrif) maintained a systematic daybook The records of the Patna mint, (roznamcha) of its income and expendit~re.'~~) which have survived only in fragments (see p. 34a for a reproduction), bear eloquent testimony to the highly organised and detailed method of accounting observed by the mint officials.14) At the mint, the value of the incoming bullion was calculated from its weight and fineness.145) An estimate of its value determined the mint charges and the amount delivered to the suppliers and also helped the mint officials to maintain uniformity in weight and fineness while striking a fixed number of coins from a given weight of fine metal. In the case of silver, the mint evaluation first required a specimen to be cut from the bullion and refined to the standard of the rupee. The net weight of the refined silver (chandi) decided the proportion of standard silver in the consignment and, accounting for the irretrievable loss in casting (haq un nar; lit. fire's share), the total number of rupees to be struck out of the gross weight. Minting charges and seigniorage (wajib i sarkar) were then deducted and the supplier was handed over a schedule of payment reckoned in a unit called mal, each representing 1000 rupees.146) The mint charges and seigniorage determined the mint price of fine bullion in terms of specie in the open coinage system. The state was capable of regulating the level and composition of money supply by modifying the mint price
142) Abul Fazl 1872: I, 15. The dyarchical office of the amin was instituted to shike a balance between local and imperial interests. He also assisted the darogha and other officials of the mint in exigent matters. Abul Fazl describes him literally when he says that he was expected to be impartial. The English describe him as "the Chief officer in the mint on the Emperor's behalf." Factory Records, Surat: vol. 5, 180a. Also Original Correspondence 6436: 135b, where the amin is described as the "chiefe of the Tanksal." 143) Abul Fazl 1872: I, 15; Khan, Supplement: 183. 144) Dastur ul Amal i Alamgiri: 53b-56a. 145) For coins of known metallic composition no quantitative assaying was needed, and these were taken simply by weight in the mint as well as in the bullion market. Tavernier 1925: I, 12-3. At Ahmadabad, Spanish reales were exchanged for mahmudis by weight: "the want of weight being always to be made good". Factory Records, Miscellaneous: vol. 25, 97. In 1621, the English were supplying old and new reales at pre-fixed prices offered by the mint. English Factories 1618-21: 3 14. 146) The description is based on the information contained in Abul Fazl 1872: I, 31-2; Dastur ul Amal i Alamgiri: 54a-57b; "Mukhlis": 173a; Surat Documents: nos. 3 and 4; Van Dam 1929: I, ii, 80; 0. C. 6436:, 135a-b; 6490, vol. 53, 295b-296a; Factory Records, Surat: vol. 5, 170a-b. The mint employed a set of weighers (wazn-kash) and assayers (Pers. muiyyar; Hindi chauksi). The weigher was responsible for taking the gross weight of the coins and bullion, which served as a reference point to verify subsequent calculations when an assessment of the fine metal was made. Bihari 1714: 37b; Kaghzat i Mutafarriqa: 57a-b, 58a-b; Document Forms: 234a; Master 1911: I, 403.

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333

of each metal. Besides, the tax levied by the state on minting (seiniorage) was not only a source of revenue but also contributed towards the premium enjoyed by the specie over its bullion content necessary to safeguard its monetary usage. It is possible to calculate the brassage (cost of raw materials and wages of the workmen) and the rate of seigniorage under the Mughals as the state did not realise profit from the mint by adding alloy to the coins, apart from what was needed for metallurgical reasons, but rather by levying a separate charge. The figures available for the late sixteenth century are presented separately in Table 10 and expressed in money as well as percentage of the net output (sarraf's net capital). Table 10. The Costs of Coining Silver: c. 1595
Rupees (bullion silver) Total Output Net Output Wages Raw Material Seigniorage Total Mint Charges Loss in Casting Sarraf's Profit Total Costs Source: Abul Fazl 1872: I, 32-3. Percentage of Net Output Rupees (coined silver) Percentage of Net Output

The value of the silver rupee was determined by the costs of minting and thus corresponded to the premium at which it circulated in the market over and above its weight in bullion. The above figures suggest that the market costs of coining silver from two different sources were 6.5 percent and 7.4 percent respectively of the sarraf's capital, the latter being higher because of the additional cost of refining the alloyed silver and the higher gross profit realised by the sarraf on account of the elaborate assaying of the various types of coins.'47) From the Ain i Akbari we learn that each silver coin of 11.5 masha weight purchased 12.25 masha of fine silver in bullion, and 12.35 masha of fine silver in coined form.'48)The premium in both the cases coincide with the value added to the rupee arrived at in Table 10.
147) The profit of the supplier for converting the bullion into specie was a factor recognised by the mint and entered into its schedule of payment as such. 148) Abul Fazl 1872: I, 32.

334

NAJAF HAIDER

It is important to remember that all the factors which determined the market value of the coins were subject to change. A short term change was effected by a sudden rise or fall in the volume of bullion supply as well as the supply of currency in the market. A bullion merchant was, for instance, able to obtain silver cheaper when there was a glut in the market or if the demand for the currency rose without a corresponding change in the mint output resulting in a rise in the market value of rupee relative to ~i1ver.l~~) The inter-regional variation in the market price of specie similarly depended on the mint price and the sarrafs' profit on the one hand and the demand for that specie on the other. The rupee carried a higher premium in the markets which were placed at a distance from the mint, and a lower value in the regions, such as the Deccan, which were primarily gold based.I5O) The long term change in the value of specie relative to bullion (with its bonitas intrinseca remaining constant) came about as a result of a change in the mint price. From the comparison of two sets of wages paid to workmen, it appears that the operating costs were higher for coining silver in the seventeenth century. The wages of the mint workmen were usually stated in proportion to the amount minted since they were not employed round the year and were called upon to work only when the mint functioned regularly. While at work, it was customary for them to receive a monthly salary and a subsistence a l l o ~ a n c e . ~ ~ ' ) The wages of the zarrab (blank cutter) available to us for the late sixteenth century seem to have been paid for the period when they were at work. These were given as 1.325 rupees (53 dams 8.75 jitals) per thousand and 2.025 rupees (81 dams) for minting a little over a thousand silver coins.'52)In 1694, the English needed workmen for the Bombay mint who could only be recruited from Gujarat. The zarrab at Cambay demanded from them 6 rupees per month as "diet" money during the entire period of employment and 4.5 rupees per thousand on the total silver coins they crafted.'53)The zarrab at Surat demanded a

149) For the evidence of such a rise occurring at Balasore in 1675 see English Factories (NS): 11, 391. Also see Factory Records, Dacca: vol. 1, 16b, for a fall in the exchange rates of the new rupee because of an extraordinary rise in the mint output. The sarrafs of Hugli once attempted to delay deliveries of newly minted coins to the Dutch merchants in an expectation to raise the value of rupees they were themselves holding. Prakash 1987: 174. 150) Abul Fazl alludes to the fact that the merchants' profit from coining would increase (farawan sud) if he obtained the silver cheaper (arzan) in the market. Abul Fazl 1872: I, 33. 151) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 94, 39a, 58a. 152) Abul Fazl 1872: I, 17. 153) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 94, 58a. In an inventory of the costs incurred by the Dutch merchants on coining silver probably at Surat (c. 1676), the wages paid to the zarrab ("seraeb, die de ropyen haar teecken en ronte geeft") were listed as 4 rupees per thousand coins. Van Dam: 111, ii, 109 (Appendix VIIIc). The date is inferred from the absence of seigniorage, abolished in 1676, from the total costs.

THE MUGHAL EMPIRE

335

higher rate of 8 rupees for subsistence and 6 rupees per thousand for coining though they were reported to have been paid 5 rupees for the latter at the ~ u r a i mint.154)These figures suggest that even if we accept the higher figure for the late sixteenth century, the wages seem to have more than doubled in the intervening century. Similarly, the wages of the weigher had gone up from 0.169 rupees per thousand in the late sixteenth century to 0.25 rupees per thousand at the turn of the eighteenth century.155) There had been a simultaneous rise in the price of the raw materials as well. Here we have at least one set of figures to compare. In the late sixteenth century, the charcoal (ingisht) needed for refining while the cost of charcoal and casting silver for 1000 coins cost 0.25 rupees,156) needed for the same number of coins in a mint of Orissa in the early eighteenth century was 0.5 rupees (eight ana).15') For the bullion merchant, an increase in the cost of minting was more than offset by a significant reduction in the seigniorage. The seigniorage charged by Akbar's administration was 5 percent on total silver output. It was recorded 2.5 percent (1 percent in the case of recoinage) for the Patna mint in 1657 and 2 percent for Surat before it was abolished in 1676.'58)The abolition remained in force for only five years and the tax was reintroduced throughout the empire in 1681, now set at three different rates viz. 5 percent charged from Hindu merchants, 3.5 from Europeans and 2.5 percent from M ~ s 1 i m s . l ~ Reductions ~) in seigniorage inevitably caused a fall in the mint price of silver throughout the empire and boosted the mint output.'60)

154) "The jurobs demands 8 Rs. each the moneth when there is no business and 6 p. mille on a1 they coin: in the tanksal they have 5 p. mille." Factory Records, Surat: vol. 94, 39a. 155) The weigher received 6 dams and 19 jitals (0.169 rupees) for 1000 rupees in c. 1595. Abul Fazl 1872: I, 16. At another place (I, 32-3), Abul Fazl gives his wage as 5 dams and 7.75 jitals (0.133 rupees) for coining a little over 1000 coins. In c. 1702, eight ana per thousand rupees were fixed for the wages of the weigher and the assayer. Document Forms: 234a. In c. 1701, the weighers of the Rajmahal mint were paid 0.37 rupees per thousand rupees. Prakash 1987: 177. 156) Abul Fazl 1872: 1, 32-3. 157) Bihari 1714: 39a. 158) Dastur ul Amal i Alamgiri: 54a-b; Factory Records, Surat: vol. 4, 42b-43a, where what is described as "duty on mintage" in 1677 was reported to have been abolished in the "previous year." Also see English Factories (NS): I, 282-3. 159) For seigniorage (3.5 percent) charged from the Dutch merchants at the Rajmahal mint in 1681 see Prakash 1987: 174. An order of the subadar of Gujarat, dated 1682, stated that the tax realised on all the gold and silver bullion (hasil i tala wa nuqra ghair maskuk) sold by the merchants to the mints of the province should be at the rate of "two [in] forty" (chahal do) for the Hindus and "one [in] forty" (chahal yak) for the Muslims. Khan 1928: I, 304. In the same year, the English were already expected to pay "wasby or mintage" on their bullion delivered to the mint by the sarrafs. Factory Records, Surat: vol. 4, 181a-b. 160) This can be seen from a comparison of the mint price given in Dastur ul Amal i Alamgiri: 54a-57a; B. L. MS. Add. 34123: 42a-b; Roques 1678: 247; Van Dam: I, ii, 79-86,

336
The Silver Mint Output

NAJAF HAIDER

To a very large extent, the changes in a monetary economy are measured by the level of its money supply. Since there is no direct method of evaluating the volume of the circulating medium for medieval economies, estimates of mint output have often served as the closest guide.I6') The absence of any statistical series on the output of the Mughal mints has made the use of numismatic evidence necessary for evaluating the size of currency output, and two attempts have so far been made to estimate the relative and absolute size of silver output for Northem India by serialising the rupee specimens held in museum collections and hoard reports.162) With a view to estimating the mint output and the absolute size of coined silver stock, Shireen Moosvi analysed the reports of the coin hoards (treasure trove reports), containing silver coins of the Mughal emperors, discovered in the region of erstwhile United Province (roughly the modem state of Uttar Pradesh) between 1886 and 1979.163) Moosvi arrived at an absolute figure for the annual silver coin output of the Mughal empire by suggesting a ratio between the rupee specimens of Surat in the U.P. treasure troves and its daily output derived from documentary e ~ i d e n c e . ' ~ ~ ) close The correspondence between the trends depicted by the two time series histograms of museum and hoard specimens validated the internal consistency of the museum holdings much against the arguments of selectivity affecting the quality of the evidence.165) In the present discussion, the method adopted to estimate the silver mint output is essentially the same as that used by Moosvi, though

91; Factory Records, Surat: vol. 94, 3b, 8b. For the relationship between mint price and output see ibid., vol. 4, 43b. 161) In major works on the monetary systems of pre-modern Europe, mint output figures have served to estimate the level of money supply with broad adjustments made to account for the use of commercial papers. The celebrated treatment by Hamilton of the Spanish currency and price structure was, however, based essentially on the level of bullion imports. Hamilton 1934. 162) Hasan 1969: 85-93, esp. figure 1. Evaluating Hasan's numismatic evidence John Deyell argued that museums have a tendency to dispense with duplicates and, for this reason, only the variations in cointypes in museum holdings can dictate the movements of her currency curve and not the actual output. Deyell 1976: 393-401. This apparent bias in Hasan's methodology prompted a new attempt by Shireen Moosvi to examine another type of numismatic evidence, the coin hoards, where the possibilities of conscious selection are considered minimal. 163) Moosvi 1987: 47-81. 164) Ibid.: 56-7. The positive relationship between the hoard specimens and textual evidence of mint output has been critically explored in Thordeman 1948: 188-204. 165) See Perlin 1987: 344-5. Perlin has consistently argued against the use of numismatic methods to support inferences on monetary changes. Deyell reiterated his objections to the use of museum collections (Deyell 1991: 3) though elsewhere he used them as source material to study the trend in copper coinage.

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certain modifications have been made in the light of additional evidence we now have on the working of the mints as well as on the currency measures taken by Akbar. The working of a mint was linked to a variety of factors, the principal being the supply of bullion and the level of economic activity in the region. Factors such as political uncertainty and administrative intervention in the affairs of the mint were in large measure sporadic, even though they were capable of affecting the performance of a mint for any short duration. The geographical location of the mint and the commercial status of its hinterland were major determinants of its long term output. The mints situated at the trade routes remained more active than the rest because of the continuous supply of precious metals they received as well as the immediate need which was felt for coined money to purchase goods sold in these markets. The facilities available around these entry points to convert specie into bill money also worked towards easing pressure on the inland mints closer to the primary markets. Merchants free to cany their bullion to the inland mints were llkely to do so only after paying transport and insurance charges. The supplies to the inland mints were linked in varying degrees to revenue payment and recoinage, on the one hand, and to the inland commerce, on the other. Within a year, the total mint production was not only limited by the technology employed in coining, but also by administrative and cultural factors."j6) A closer look at the Surat mint, the biggest recipient of imported bullion, suggests that in the time of the year when merchant ships returned from the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, there was a tremendous rush to coin money which, even at full employment, often outweighed the capacity and efficiency of the mint.16') There were social factors as well which affected the working of the mint. The workmen stopped work during the major festivals (Ekadashi and Amavas were particularly cited as examples) and took leave to attend funeral and other rites of the members of their caste. It was estimated in the late seventeenth century, that the Surat mint worked an average of 20 days a month due to the social customs and other pre-occupations of the mint workers, and it seems that this was the case with the other mints as The mint automatically stopped functioning during times of external danger as in the 1670s,
166) It was reported in 1647 that, even in the face of a standing demand, the Thatta mint spent more time coining for the provincial officials than for the merchants. English Factories 1646-50: 101. The Surat mint once closed down and the workmen "absconded" when the governor persisted in intervening in its affairs at the expense of the bullion suppliers. Factory Records, Surat: vol. 5, 145a, 149b. 167) English Factories 1642-45: 17-8. For the complaints regarding the "slow" working of the mint see Factory Records, Surat: vol. 94, 69a; vol. 92, 1. 168) Ibid.: vol. 94, 7a, 154b. The festivals of Ekadashi and Amavas were universally

338

N N A F HAIDER

when intermittent rumours of a Maratha attack on Surat put the mint to a halt and forced most contracts for bullion sales to be reverted"j9) While the mints of the empire worked an average of 240 days a year, their individual production was not uniform throughout the year. For the mints which received their supplies exclusively from overseas trade, one can discern at least two stages in the output depending on the season of the year. On the western coast, the first stage coincided with the landing of the imported bullion from west Asia and Europe which began in September and continued up to March. In this season, the mints worked with their full workforce.170) The second phase commenced from around April and continued till August. With the south-west monsoon virtually closing all the harbours of the Indian Ocean from May onwards, no fresh supplies of bullion were to be expected and the mint production was levelled down to clear the remainder of the preceding season. In the busy season itself, the variation in the mint output was reflected only in terms of the length of the production time. In other words, with the daily output and the size of the workforce remaining constant in that season, the season could either be shorter or longer in response to the level of supplies. The English merchants at Surat referred to this phenomenon on more than one occasion while commenting upon the length of the waiting time in getting the supply of coins back from the mint.
The time agreed for (payment) is 93 daies which we were necessitated submit to at this juncture of tyme, though it exceeds what accustomary in regard there is by computation 800000 Rupees now in Towne to come lately imported from Judda and Mocho, together with our owne.17')

This would mean that the time taken by the mint to deliver the coins to the merchants, reckoned from the date of delivery, was fixed under normal circumstances and was to be increased or reduced with the pressure on the mint.'72)It could be inferred that the mint did not make short term changes in the volume of its daily output to cope with the additional supplies and minimise the delay.

observed by merchants and craftsmen in the Mughal empire, and one among several measures taken by Aurangzeb's administration was to prohibit the closing of the shops on these two occasions. Dastur ul Amal, M S . Fraser 86: 38a; Zawabit i Alamgiri: 137a. 169) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 3, 117, 119; vol. 105, 132a. 170) "On the Judda and Moch Fleet arrivals, the Tanksal officers would all be employed and the shroffs might require 120 days (as usual at such times to coin the bullion)." Factory Records, Surat: vol. 94, 69a. Also see ibid.: vol. 4, 180b-181a; vol. 90, 183a; Original Correspondence 2115: 109a. For the evidence that the workmen were relieved when the mint was not functioning see Factory Records, Surat: vol. 5, 149b. 171) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 4, 180b-181a. 172) See ibid.: 188b for evidence of the lower pressure on the mint reducing the waiting period for the merchants. Also see ibid.: vol. 6, 112-3; vol. 90, 183a.

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339

However, mints were also capable of expanding or contracting the absolute output, relative to previous years, if the volume of supplies registered a change over a period of time sufficiently long to recruit additional ~ o r k r n e n . " ~It ) is here that the significance of our fragmentary evidence on mint production lies, and if examined carefully by keeping in view not only the pattern of mint production but also the trend in the level of bullion supply over the years, it can be helpful in providing some insight into the overtime movement in the level of money supply. Most of our quotations for the mint's daily output come from the records of the European merchants who were mainly concerned with their part of the business with the mint. In their letter to London (December 1634), the English merchants at Surat made the following remarks:
Our greatest trouble, and noe small losse (yet unavoidable) is the slowness of the mint, from whence wee doe not receive one day with another, since our silver was canyed in, above 6000 rupees. It was once brought to 9000; but since the Dutch became competitors, they have 3000 daily and our number is discended to 5000; . .

Writing in April 1636, the English once again reflected upon their share of the mint production at Surat:
[Hlere we must attend diverese monthes if wee have any competitors, or, if wee have the mint alone, wee do not receive above 6000 rupees daily..

It appears from these descriptions that in the peak seasons, the mint had a policy of fixing the shares of the merchant groups in the daily output, and it was possible for an indivdual merchant or a group to avail the total output once the pressure on the mint had eased out. With the output figures remaining constant for a particular season in a given year, as argued earlier, the figures cited above could thus be representative of the daily output of the Surat mint for 1634-36 at different times of the year. The average of these figures (7666.6 rupees) would give us a broad estimate of the daily output for the whole year. Allowing for the fact that the Surat mint worked for 240 days, its annual output in these years would work out to be 20.9 metric tons of silver which is less than the figure suggested by Moosvi (33 metric tons). While relating this figure to the number of hoard specimens of Surat during
173) See Moreland 1972: 177 for an expansion in the mint output at Surat in response to the merchants' demands. In April 1684, the Surat mint had to send additional workmen to Delhi to cope with the increased scale of production there. Akhbarat, R.A.S. Library, no. 2361, 24 shaban, 37th regnal year of Aurangzeb. The English merchants found it very hard to recruit workmen for their Bombay mint since there was a strict administrative control on the mobility of the skilled mint workers. See Factory Records, Surat: vol. 94, 30b. 174) English Factories, 1634-36: 68-9. 175) Ibid.: 217-8.

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the years 1634-37 (40 rupees), we have divided the samples into two parts: one comprising those coins which are fully dated and have mint names on them (A); and the other consisting of all coins including those only partially dated and dateless and mintless coins (B). The trend in both the cases would largely remain the same, though the absolute level of output in A would be lower than B. The number of Surat coins for 1634-37 was raised by Moosvi to 46 to account for the dateless coins, but the figures for the actual output are so few that the possibilities of a close correspondence between this addition (10 percent) and the volume of unspecified coins in the hoard (25 percent) seem rather limited. Table 11. Estimated Output of the Mughal Silver Mints
Years
A Number of Coins

Annual Output (metric tons of silver) 4.28 25.49 48.28 9 1.96 122.05 76.91 64.37 119.96 80.25 64.05 62.65 46.71 53.98 82.68 122.28

B Number of Coins
32.0 226.5 424.5 854.5 1147.0 516.5 432.5 758.0 499.5 398.0 365.0 256.0 294.5 453.0 670.0

Annual Output (metric tons of silver) 5.79 40.99 76.83 154.66 207.60 93.48 78.28 137.19 90.41 72.03 66.06 46.33 53.21 8 1.99 121.27

1556-1565 1566-1575 1576-1585 1586-1595 1596-1605 1606-1615 1616-1625 1626-1635 1636-1645 1646-1655 1656-1665 1666-1675 1676-1685 1686-1695 1696-1705

20.5 122.0 23 1.O 440.0 584.0 368.0 308.0 574.0 384.0 306.5 299.8 223.5 258.3 395.6 585.1

Note: The conversion of coins bearing the Hijra and the Ilahi years into their corresponding Christian years is based on the method of assigning them in proportion to the part(s) of the Christian year which fell within each Hijra or Ilahi year. Source: Treasure Trove Reports, MS., Lucknow Museum.

There is yet another important numismatic imbalance which needs to be redressed. The shape of the specimen curves of both Hasan and Moosvi shows a sharp rise between 1580 and 1590, giving the impression of an increase in the o~tput."~)
176) Moosvi 1987: 52-4 (figs. 1 and 2).

THE MUGHAL EMPIRE

34 1

However, this had more to do with the decision taken by Akbar to strike coins bearing the date 1000 Hijra (alf) from 990 onwards, so that all silver coins minted during the decade carry a single year of issue.177)In our calculations, all alf coins are distributed across the decade in proportion to the dated coins.

Graph 11. Estimafed Output of the Mughal Sihier Mints

Years

These estimates of the silver mint ouput suggest that in the last two decades of the sixteenth century, the annual average was 107 metric tons for A and 181 metric tons for B. Our figure for the bullion imports (124 metric tons) is closer to the lower range of the output, more so if we consider the fact that it contains some amount of gold in it. However, there were other factors which influenced the direct relationship between bullion supplies and mint output. These were the non-monetary usage and outflow of bullion on the one hand, and the minting of previously accumulated stock on the other. From our treatment of the bullion market, the possibilities of the outflow and hoarding of bullion appears minimal, though it was possible for the merchants and sarrafs to sell some bullion to the goldsmiths and silversmiths and members of the ruling class (including the imperial establishment) for employment in making jewellery and craft goods and a small but unknown quantity of imported bullion must have been diverted away from the mint.'78) On the side of recoinage, as we shall later observe, this was a period of great efforts taken by the state to remint all
177) Haider 1996.
178) Khan 1928: I, 304, 340. The mint, being itself a manufactory, also received a

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previous issues which may have contributed to a rise in the output independent of the level of bullion supplies. The fall in the output of the first quarter of the seventeenth century is consistent with our description of an overall decline in bade and bullion supplies in this period, and the figure we have for the imports also stands very close to the level of output. The subsequent spurt in the output and a quick fall can be ascribed not so much to the foreign supplies as to another process of recoinage undertaken this time by Jahangir (see infra). The period thereafter (1636-85) was of a secular decline from which the output recovered only towards the end of the seventeenth century. This happened despite a general increase in both Gujarat's trade and its bullion imports in this period as well as total imports to the Mughal empire. Our figure for the latter in 1679-85 are in fact the highest for the entire period. The regional distribution of the hoard specimens, on which the output figures are based, show that the decline took place in all the regions of the empire except for G~jarat."~) The explanation for h s phenomenon requires more information of the economic performance of the respective regions and the pattern of distribution of precious metals. With regard to the latter part of this phase, one can say that the rise in gold imports may have had partly to do with the contraction of silver. We shall have occasion to return to this point, but suffice it to say here that even Gujarat had to suffer in this period insofar as its own need of silver was concerned.

The Contraction o f Copper Currency and the Rise of Silver: c. 1556-c. 1605 On the eve of the Mughal conquest, the monetary scene of northern India was dominated by the billon and copper issues of the late Delhi Sultans. In the tribute collected by Babar from the ruler of Tirhut, billon (tanka i siyah) and silver coins (tanka i nuqra) are clearly stipulated and the relative quantities mentioned in the revenue record point to the larger circulation of the former.'80) Also, the silver tanka mentioned in Babar's balance sheet was no longer a pure silver coin but only had a higher silver content than the more debased billon issues of the period. The pure silver tanka was an innovation of the early Sultans of Delhi in the thirteenth century. A prolonged crisis of precious metals
portion of the bullion going into craft-production. For the wire-drawers of the Srimal caste employed by the Ahmadabad mint for such purposes see Ibid.: 292-3. 179) Moosvi 1987: 56, 58. 180) Babar 1905: 293a.

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from about the middle of the fourteenth century, influenced the monetary policies of the Sultans and successive attempts were made to reduce the weight of the silver tanka as well as to replace it with a billon coin of the same name.I8') This marked the beginning of a progressive debasement of the silver tanka till it reached a point when, under the Lodis, it became a money of account linked to copper, the only stable medium of circulation in that period.'82) In Akbar's reign, the status of the tanka as a money of account was formally expressed in the designation tanka i muradi (lit. tanka of reference) and used for assessing revenue and expressing prices and salaries before it was replaced by the dam, itself a copper coin in the beginning but later a money of account as well. The revival of silver, and to a limited extent gold, minting began with the establishment of Mughal rule in northern India. There are 74 silver coins preserved in various museum collections, of the Central Asian standard (shahrukhi of 73.5 grains), struck by Babar from the mints at Patna in the east to Badakhshan in the north-west. Part of this silver came from the tributes extracted from the subjugated potentates in billon, and part of it may well have been brought from Central Asia. Humayun continued to strike silver shahrukhis till 1540, and gold coins also started appearing in relatively large quantities. By the time Sher Shah interrupted Mughal rule in 1540, the monetary economy of India was beginning to feel the impact of American silver coming from Europe.lg3) The decision to produce a heavier silver coin (rupee of 179 grains) by Sher Shah and his successors from at least eleven active silver mints could be truly attributed to the growing volume of silver imports from the middle of the sixteenth century.Is4) In the early years of Akbar's reign (c. 1556-74), the rupee was regularly struck from five silver mints of the empire, all situated in urban centres lying
181) This first happened in the reign of Muhammad Tughlaq (1324-51), whose much derided policy of introducing a fiduciary currency (a copper coin with the legal value of a tanka) also seems to be the product of the same crisis. For the currency measures of this Sultan see Barani 1860-2: 474-75; Sihrindi 1931: 102-3; Ahmad 1927: I, 199-203. The paucity of gold and silver in the market and the low prices of food grains under Ibrahim Lodi (1517-1526) are noticed in Abdullah 1954: 104-5. The numismatic evidence is discussed in Wright 1936: 156-71; Haider 1989: 229-35. 182) While the payments made to the soldiers of Sikandar Lodi were in copper coins (pul i siyah), the records were kept in tanka. Abdullah 1954: 83. It seems that the billon issues of the various Sultans, named after them (tanka i Bahluli, tanka i Sikandari etc.), had separate standards but all were linked to the tanka of account through the copper coin. For the tanka as the principal coin of monetary transactions under the Lodis see Niamatullah 1969: 88, 164, 168. 183) American silver started arriving in Spain in significant quantities only after 1531. Hamilton 1934: 40 (Table 2). 184) For the silver output under the Sur regime see Deyelle 1987: 46 (Appendix I , Table 14).

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at the major trade routes and also the seats of imperial or provincial administration.18') Trade was a major source of supply for these mints and we have evidence of foreign silver being carried to the inland regions of the empire and coined into rupees. While describing the management of the Mughal mints, Abul Fazl mentions the foreign coins which were refined to the imperial standard before being restruck, the most notable being the shahi, lari, Spanish reales and Turkish piastre (narjil jrangi wa rumi).Ig6)As we have already observed, these were all principal coins within the stream of silver flowing into India from the maritime and the caravan routes. In the last quarter of the sixteenth century two major developments took place which had important monetary implications: the conquest of Gujarat in 1572, and the reorganisation of the administrative and fiscal apparatus from 1575 onwards. The trend depicted in Graph ILI demonstrates that in the first fifteen years of Akbar's administration (1556-1570), silver circulation had already begun in the core areas of the empire, though it was still quite modest relative to the later part of his reign.lS7)The progressive increase in the silver output became sharper from the fourth quinquennium, a period in which, following Akbar's annexation of Gujarat, silver minting at Ahmadabad re-started. Graph I11 also charts the share of the Ahmadabad mint in the total output of Akbar's silver mints based on the computation B (due to a very large presence of Ahmadabad coins in the hoard which are datable only by decades). Since the total output includes mintless coins as well, this will slighly underestimate Ahmadabad's contribution. The graph clearly suggests that the major supply route of silver into the Mughal empire ran through Ahmadabad, and from 1582 onwards, the contribution of this mint alone accounts for half the total output. Abul Fazl has indeed mentioned, as one of the trade features of Gujarat, the import of silver from the territories of Turkey and Iraq (wilayat i Rum wa Iraq).'88) Silver reachlng the

185) These were the mints of Agra, Delhi, Lahore, Jaunpur and Narnol. I have excluded from this list all those mints which were active for only a very short period of time and where minting was done either for political reasons, such as annexations, or for the presence of the royal entourage. 186) Abul Fazl 1872: I, 19. The Spanish reale or piastre was obviously taken by Abul Fazl to be a Portuguese (Jirangi) coin, and the Turkish piastre (ghurush) was essentially a reale of eight with an Ottoman stamp. Gerber 1982: 311. 187) The first reference to the use of rupee in commercial transactions in the vicinity of Agra comes from a farman of Akbar (1569), addressed to the shiqdar of pargana Chanwar, ordering the recovery of a debt of 13 rupees owed to Ramdas, once the chief dyer in the service of Akbar. The original document is in the possession of Mr. Barkatullah Khan of Firuzabad with a photocopy in the Library of the Centre of Advanced Study in History, Aligarh Muslim University. 188) Abul Fazl 1872: I, 486.

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Graph Ill. Estimated Output of Akbar's Sihler Mints

15561560

1-541-

1-Hi1570

15711575

15161580

1.5811585

1.5%-

15911595

1-336-

I C a 1 1605

I-%5

1590

1600

Years

markets of Cambay from the ports of Diu and Ghogha was eventually brought for coining to Ahmadabad, the hinterland market for these port cities. After Gujarat became a part of the Mughal empire, the link of Ahmadabad, now capital of the province, with the core areas of the empire became even stronger.lg9) The remittance of imperial revenue from the province. effected through Ahmadabad, complemented the already established channel of precious metal flow to the inland towns through trade. As a result of the massive output of rupees in the Ahmadabad mint, the imperial issue began to substitute the local Gujarat coinage, mainly mahmudis (a coin weighing 88 grains in which 93 percent was pure silver), in settling Gujarat's trade balances with the north Indian markets. It gave the merchants an opportunity to avoid the inconvenience of a double exchange, i.e. the exchange of imported coins first into mahmudis and then into rupees, when they had to transport the specie from the western coast to the inland regions. At the turn of the seventeenth century, in the administrative division (sarkar) of Ahmadabad which housed both the capital city of the province and the mint, rupees had become the sole medium of exchange to the total exclusion of mahmudis. In European accounts of the trade of Cambay, the newly minted sikka rupee ("ropia sackey") is explicitly stated as the only coin
189) Moosvi 1992: 123, 125.

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acceptable in payment.lgO) Subsequently, we find that all the bills of exchange drawn upon Cambay and Ahmadabad were written in rupees, and the bills drawn at Ahmadabad on any other city were paid for in the same specie as well.191) It seems that the use of the rupee had become so widespread by 1583 that, after recapturing Ahmadabad, the Gujarat Sultan needed to strike silver coins of the exact shape and weight as the rupee of Akbar rather than the reputed mahmudi of his ancestor^.'^^) In 1601, a sum of one lakh of rupees was annually fixed for the consumption of Prince Salim out of the port revenues of This Camba~.'~ ~ ) suggests that a significant portion of urban revenue in the sarkar of Ahmadabad, of which Cambay was a part, was collected in rupees. With the use of the same specie in payments made to the provincial officials and troopers as well as the amount spent on the personal expenditure of the high official^,'^^) the rupee would have been gradually introduced into the markets of Ahmadabad and Cambay. The penetration of rupees in the regional exchange network would have come to a full circle when the merchants and manufacturers paid their dues either by obtaining rupees directly from the market or by changing mahmudis, laris and other foreign coins at the mint and money-changers' shops. There will be little doubt about the fact that a real expansion in silver currency took place in the urban sector. However, it is much more important to know the position silver occupied in the overall monetary structure of the Mughal empire along with copper. The answer to this question lies in an understanding of the monetary demand of the agrarian economy, the working of the Mughal fiscal system and the performance of the copper currency sector. In an insightful treatment of such evidence as exists on these aspects, Irfan Habib argued that the impact of silver on the sixteenth century monetary economy was limited to the extent of commencing only a phase of transition, which culminated in its dominance in the sevententh century. In his opinion, the stable monetary usage of copper and a rise in its silver value revealed the limitations of absorptions of silver in the economy at the same rate as its s u p p l i e ~ . ' ~ ~ ) Our own reconstruction of the monetary movements of the sixteenth century, though different in terms of the performance of silver in the economy and the
190) Broecke 1963: 1 1 , 382; Terpstra 1918: 206; Letters Received: 1 1 1 , 1 1 ; Supplementary Culendar: 46. Also see English Factories, 1618-21: 178, 309. 191) Supplementary Calendar: 64, 90, 112; English Factories, 1618-21: 1 13, 181-2; 162223: 19, 147, 149. 192) Taylor 1902: 413; Brennig 1983: 482. 193) Khan 1927: I , 184. 194) In the early years the suba o f Gujarat was held in jagir by the subadar himself and his family. 195) Habib 1987: 137-70, esp. 142-7.

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chronology of events associated with that, is in agreement with the general thrust of his argument that silver was succesful in replacing copper as the principal medium of exchange. We have shown earlier that before the advent of silver, copper and billon currency was used in all transactions including revenue payments. In the revenue recommendations of the Mughal finance minister, Todarmal, the collection of land revenue is shown in the bahluli tanka as late as 1582, from which payments to the revenue officials (stated in tanka i muradi) were made.'96)Akbar's administration had retained the heavy copper piece of Sher Shah and circulated it, with a new weight (323 grains) from eight cities of the empire in the first fifteen years of his reign.I9') The internal supply of copper from the mines of central India and its regular imports from Europe by the Red Sea had sustained the copper currency sector in the first half of the sixteenth century. A clause of the agreement negotiated by Malik Gopi, the merchant-administrator of Cambay, provided for the Portuguese to supply each year over 2,000 metric tons of copper, for Gujarat as well as the inland regions, since the Portuguese blockade of the Red Sea (c. 1515) had cut the major supply route of the L e ~ a n t . ' ~ ~) In the second half of the sixteenth century, silver seems to have substituted the copper imports by both the Red Sea and the Cape route. The contraction in copper supplies must have allowed silver to replace it in sectors such as the urban and intermediary markets which were tied to commodity production and foreign trade. However, silver still not invading the rural economy, and not being a perfect substitute for copper in areas involving petty transactions, the demand for copper must have increased relative to its supplies. This could perhaps explain why as the silver influx continued its value fell in terms of copper from 1:48 during 1556-75 to 1:40 between 1575-83 (see infra). It might seem paradoxical that the fall in silver value came about at a time when the state made its first major attempt to incorporate it in its fiscal system. Like many other state apparatuses, the Mughal monetary policy during the early years of Akbar's reign was also in a formative stage. In 1575, administrative measures were taken to reorganise the fiscal structure of the empire with important monetary consequences. Up till now, the pay claims of the Mughal military-bureaucracy, represented by the rank holding officials (mansabdar) and their subordiante soldiers (tabinan), were met by a system of revenue assignment (jagir). In this system, territories yielding a fixed revenue in tanka were
196) Abul Fazl, Akbarnama, OIOC, MS. Add. 27247, f. 332b. 197) The cities in which copper was actively minted between 1556 and 1570 were Agra, Delhi, Lakhnau, Awadh, Bahraich, Namol, Kalpi and Alwar. 198) Aubin 1971: 44, 60; Magalhaes-Godinho 1969: 403-4. For the exports of European copper to India from Mamluk Egypt in the fifteenth century see Bacharach 1976: 42-3.

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assigned to each mansabdar claiming a matching salary calculated in the same money of account. In 1575, with a view apparently to expand cultivation, all jagirs were resumed and converted into khalisa or taxable temtories subject to central financial contr01."~) This required huge amounts of cash payment made out to the mansabdurs and their soldiers. It seems that it was at this stage that the state decided to take the first major step towards accommodating the inflow of imported silver into its fiscal apparatus. The fixing of mansdabdar's salaries and the method of payment is described by Abul Fazl as follows:
When someone by good fortune enters the fold of the army (jirga i sipah) and the branding is conducted, the [pay] orders are issued without delay or costs. The salaries (wajh i talab) are fixed (lit. written) in dam while at the time of payment half is made out in rupees at the rate of 48 dam. The rest is paid in two equal halves: one in muhr at the value of 9 rupees, and the other in the form (ba jins) of dam. When the price of the rupee reached (afzud!) 40 dam, by the emperor's benevolence such dam were obtained [i.e. payment made at the new rate].2M)

There are three important points which emerge from this description: first, that the salaries were fixed in the copper money of account (the dam, as in other cases, was here extrapolated by Abul Fazl); second, that half of the salaries were paid in silver and the rest in gold and copper money; and the third, that at some point after the year in which cash payments began, the market value of silver fell against copper calling for a revision of the official rate of exchange. It is obvious that in order to effect such huge payments in rupees, the state required sufficient stock of silver at its disposal, and it is also fair to assume that much of this stock was acquired through taxes, both urban and rural. The collection of urban taxes, such as the customs duties on imported silver, mint revenues and levies on manufactured goods (the revenue rates for indigo are stated in rupees in the Ain), though an important source of silver for the state, would have hardly sufficed to meet the pay claims realised in rupees which, by a rough estimate, would have exceeded 350 metric tons of silver at the official rate of exchange in c. 1595.20')It is therefore quite likely that the state began to encourage the collection of land revenue (stated in tanka i m~radi)~O~) in

199) Ahmad 1931: 11, 300-1; Abul Fazl 1887: 111, 117. A set of officials (karoris) was appointed to assess and collect revenue from the provinces with the exception of Gujarat, Bihar and Bengal. 200) Abul Fazl 1872: I, 196. 201) For the estimated salary bills of the mansabdars see Moosvi 1987a: 206-20. 202) In another farman of Akbar granted in favour of the above mentioned Ramdas, the assessed revenue (jama i raqami) of the village Hamirpur, pargnana Chanwar (Agra), is stated as 5000 tanka i muradi.

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silver either before or at about 1575, at the official rate of exchange (1:48).203) As long as the official rate remained above the current market rate (progressively declining to 1:40), the policy must have continued to provide an incentive to the revenue payers to offer the overvalued silver coin rather than the undervalued dam. The insistence of the revenue officials in demanding a particular currency in payment (so that they could benefit from arbitrage), and the attempts by the state to declare this unlawful, suggests that the discrepancy between the two rates was wilfully acknowledged by the state for fiscal and monetary consideration^.^"^) It also seems that a major reorganisation of the Mughal silver mints, which took place in 1577-78, and passed their management from the chaudhuris to the officials directly appointed by the emperor, was designed to improve the mint production and meet the fiscal demands of the state.205) That despite these measures silver should continue to fall in its value against copper and the ratio should once reach an all time low of 1:38 is most surprising. A tentative explanation could be that the internal supply of silver outstripped its seasonal demand when the expenditures of the mansabdars and their troopers were carried out in rupees. In 1582 the previous system of assigning jagirs in lieu of cash salaries was reinstated, and in the same year the official rate of exchange between copper and silver was fixed at 1:40. These measures would have simultaneously affected the fiscal and agrarian demand for silver as well as its internal supply to the market. After 1591, an exceptional rise in the silver output took place apparently as a result of a massive recoinage of the circulating stock. We have the evidence of an imperial order of 1592 to demonetise all the issues of the previous emperors (padshahan i sabiq), and comprehensive measures were taken by the administration to melt all such coins and sell them as bullion (ha baha i tala wa nuqra) in the market.206)As always, the officials found themselves dependant on

203) The collection of revenue in silver at the market rate would have gone against the entire idea of fixing the revenue in the money of account which is done to prepare a balance sheet based on fixed income and fixed expenditure. 204) In 1583, the official value of the rupee was fixed at 40 dams a d injinitium. Abul Fazl 1872: I, 26-8, 176, 196; Abul Fazl, Akbarnama, MS. Add. 27247: 332b. But the market value of silver may still have been lower, and the state made additional payments to the officials to make up for the difference rather than further changing the fixed rate. Ibid.: 176, 178. 205) Abul Fazl, Akbarnama, MS. Add. 27247, f. 249b. The printed text of Bib. Indica: 111, 227, omits from its inventory the mint situated at Malwa. 206) Badauni 1869: 111, 380. The intensity of the decree was revealed by the author when he suggested that the objective of this measure was to drive "these [coins] out without leaving a trace in the world." Among the guidelines issued to the treasurer and the police chief (kotwal) at about the same time, there was a clause which referred exclusively to the treatment of the coins of the previous rulers (bastani maskuk). It was ordered that they should be declared uncurrent (nu maskuk) and should either be melted down (ba gudazgah dahad) or

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the sarrafs for a successful completion of their task and were tempted to use all possible means, including coercion, to seek compliance from them."') When the policy was eventually implemented, under a new set of officials and with a great deal of hard labour, in all the regions of the empire (aqsa i marnalik), it must have resulted in a substantial recoinage of gold and silver issues. In these years, several measures were taken by the state to regulate the exchange of precious metal coinage including a control over the business of the s a r r a f ~ . ~ ~ ~ ) Complaints were also looked into that the officials of the imperial revenue (amalguzar khalisa), assignees (tuyuldar) and money-changers (sairaj) were demanding payment in a specific coin (sikka i k h s ) or, alternatively, levying discount even on the coins of full weight and fineness (naqd durust aiyar tamam wazn).209) It can be seen that that the thrust of these measures was directed towards the precious metal coinage, especially silver, which was now being used increasingly in the agrarian sector. One can perhaps predate the process of displacement of copper by at least two decades from what was being argued till now.2L0) Since the value of copper largely depended on its utility as a monetary metal, with its displacement in the monetary sector came about a fall in its value from 26.1 rupee per man i Akbari in c. 1595 to 19.8 rupees in 1614 and 16.3 rupees in 1615.2") A similar trend was visible in the ratio of copper and silver currencies. The market ratio seems to have risen after 1595 until it reached 1 5 0 in 1614.212) Some of this rise could be attributed to a decline in silver imports in this period but the general trend pointed to a downward drift of copper till at least 1619, when the policy of minting copper on an apparently larger scale in the second decade of the seventeenth century renewed its demand as a currency

sent to the treasury at the value of uncoined bullion (ba irj i nu maskuk). Abul Fazl 1872: I, 284, 289. 207) Badauni 1869: III, 380. 208) Ibid.; Abul Fazl 1872: I, 288; Monserate 1922: 207. 209) Abul Fazl, Akbarnama, MS. Add. 26207, 275b. 210) It has been argued till now that the silver price of copper remained unchanged till at least 1614. The value of silver remained stable because of its absorption in the monetary sector for the period it was replacing copper, while the value of the latter remained unchanged because of its growing demand in the non-monetary sector as an industrial metal. Habib 1987: 157-8; Moosvi 1987: 368-9. 21 1) Abul Fazl 1872: I, 32; Downton 1939: 172; Letters Received: 11, 152; Terpstra 1918: 216. One man i Akbari = 55.32 lb. avdp. or 60 lb. Holland, and one man of Gujarat = 33.19 lb avdp. or 30 lb. Holland. One rupee = 2s. 4d., and 1 mahmudi = 2.25 rupee in 1614-15. 212) The rupee at Agra in 1614 is reckoned at "96 to 102 pices." Supplementary Calendar: 48. The conventional explanation that a paisa is a half dam is accepted here. 213) Teny 1921: 302; English Factories 1618-21: 142, 144; Jourdain 1905: 150.

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The Contraction in Silver Supplies atzd Monetaly Measures: 1605-1630 In the first quarter of the seventeenth century, when the precipitate rush of silver to the Mughal empire seemed to have faded, its impact was felt on the currency output of all those regions which received overseas silver. The Ahmadabad mint, which was the most prolific in coining money till the previous decade, was brought to a halt due to lack of supplies.214) There was also a substantial fall in its output between 1605 and 1625.*15)The decline in the North-Western mints was less dramatic, and there was even a relative increase in the decade 1616-1625.216) This was obviously due to the increase in the caravan trade passing through this region, which sustained the mints of Lahore, Multan and Qandhar. But the biggest beneficiaries of this diversion were the central Indian mints, mainly those of Agra and Delhi, where the caravan traffic terminated. Notwithstanding the regional redistribution of silver supplies, an absolute fall in the total silver output of the empire (Graph 11) forcefully indicated the importance of foreign trade in sustaining the working of the silver mints. The two monetary measures taken by the Mughal emperor Jahangir (r. 160528) should be seen against this background. Upon his accession, the emperor had made changes in the weight and standard of the existing silver coins for what seems to have been purely a matter of personal predilection. In the first instance, he increased the weight of the rupee by 20 percent (dah dwazdah) and instituted a new silver weight so that the Jahangiri rupee now weighed one tola (213.5 grains), instead of 1.15 tola on the weight standard of his predecesor.^^') A few years later (c. 1609), he further raised the weight of his rupee to make it a quarter heavier (222.4 grains) than the standard rupee of Akbar.2'8) By 1611, the pressure of the fall in silver supplies on the existing monetary stock seems to have forced the emperor to abandon the heavier rupees and restore the silver coin to the previous standard of 177.9 grains.219) The later part of Jahangir's reign was characterised by a mounting deficit in the imperial income which could be attributed, at least partly, to the decline in trade and bullion imports. According to the court historian of Shahjahan, the imperial income lagged behind expenditure at the rate of 8 million rupees per
214) English Factories 1618-21: 7-8.
215) Moosvi 1992: 126 (Table 1).
216) Moosvi 1987: 62-3.
217) Jahangir 1864: 5; Hodivala 1923: 133-4.
218) Hodivala 1923: 135-6. The new coin was now equal in value to one and a quarter
(sawa) of the ordinary rupee of Akbar. The popular designation, sawai, which the heaviest coin acquired in the empire may have been in direct reference to its added weight and value. 219) Jahangir 1864: 96. For the rest of Jahangir's and the best part of Shahjahan's reign the weight of the rupee remained stable and it continued to be reckoned on the jahangiri scale at only 10 masha. Sometime towards the end of Shahjahan's reign, the weight standard of

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year.220)Since the imperial income was largely derived from taxation (which was falling), the only way left to service the deficit was to draw upon imperial reserves which contained, inter alia, the silver hoard left by Akbar ranging from 100 to 130 million rupees (1136 to 1477 metric tons of silver).221) It seems that so much silver was spent from this source that Shahjahan (r. 1628-59) inherited only 10 million rupees from his father's treasury and had to pursue a policy of amassing silver.222) If Jahangir restruck Akbar's coins into his own, in order to avoid the market discount fixed on old coins regardless of weight loss, this would have meant a significant increase in the silver output. The latter can help us explain the sharp and short term rise in silver output (Graph 11) for the decade 1625-35.

The Crash of Gold: 1674-85


Even though gold imports into the Mughal empire seems to have risen from 1665 onwards, it was only towards the end of 1674 that gold started its downward course, which was to continue for almost a decade in all parts of the Mughal empire resulting in what may be called the Great Crash of gold. As we shall see, this coincided with important changes in the worlung of the Mughal economy. It is quite clear from the evidence we have that both the muhr and uncoined gold had begun to fall in value in Gujarat and Bengal from 1674,223) and the quantities imported from the Red Sea and Persian Gulf only added to its ongoing misery.224)The English merchants, anxious to sell the stock they were already holding, feared that the falling rate of the gold price would accelerate with the market sensing the arrival of the Red Sea fleet.225) That the "crash of g o l d was not only limited to the coastal areas but was
Akbar came into force once again. In the mint record of Patna, all the ordinary rupees were reckoned at 11.5 masha. Dastur ul amal i Alamgiri: 54a-55b, 57a. 220) Qazwini: B. M. MS. Add. 20734, 4 4 - 5 ; MS. Or. 173, 221b. The expenditure mainly included the costs of maintaining the empire, especially those of military campaigns, and the imperial establishment. See English Factories 1622-23: 94, for the allocation of 1 million rupees for the campaign to reoccupy Qandhar from the Safavids. 221) Hawkins: 101-2 (13 crores); Contemporary Dutch Chronicle: 33 (10 crores); De Laet: 107 (10 crores); Farishta 1905: I. 272 (10 crores). Also see Moosvi 1987a: 198, 25960. Qazwini's estimate of 7 crores seems rather conservative. 222) Qazwini: op. cit.; Generale Missiven: I, 341. 223) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 4, 35b; vol. 107, 41, 90; Factory Records, Miscellaneous: vol. 2, 162; Factory Records, Qasimbazar: vol. 1, 9; Factory Records, Dacca: vol. 1, 50b, 51a, 52b; English Factories, (NS): 1 , 267-8; IV, 243; Generale Missiven: IV, 8, 69; Master 1911: 11, 304-5. 224) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 90, ff. 94a-b; 4, f. 161b; English Factories (NS): 111, 270. 225) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 4, 161b.

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more widespread is shown by a report sent from Ajmer to the imperial court in 1680. Here the market rate of the muhr was cited as 13 rupees by a group of musketeers (banduqchian) who were forced to accept a part of their salary, fixed in silver, at an overvalued rate of 15 rupees to the m ~ h r . When ~ ~ ~ )the musketeers petitioned the Mughal administrator of Ajmer to seek revision of the payment procedure they in fact hinted that the interest of the diwan lay in taking advantage of the falling price of gold.227) The prolonged fall in the value of gold, spanning more than a decade, was widely perceived and commented upon by the European merchants. In his annual letter of January 1677, the Surat President of the English Company, Gerald Aungier, anxiously pondered upon the phenomenon which in his view had caused "a decay of commerce in the country."228) In a lengthy explanation, he drew attention to a financial necessity which compelled the emperor Aurangzeb (r. 1659-1707) to draw upon the gold reserves. It was also believed that the gold coins drawn out of the treasury were spent on state expenditure, which first precipitated a fall in the value of those coins and, ipso-facto, in the value of gold in general. However, the real reason for the decline in its value was not the abundance of gold but the scarcity of silver. When the fall in gold was first noticed towards the end of 1674, it was explicitly ascribed to the great scarcity of silver rupees in both Gujarat and Benga1.229)It appears from these reports that the paucity of silver itself was the result of a decline in its import in these years. The supply of silver to Gujarat from the Red Sea and Persian Gulf had dried up in that monsoon and whatever the Dutch had brought for investing in the markets of western and central India was largely diverted to Bengal. The Bengal factors themselves lamented the fact that the region had received very little silver from the English in the past years and none at all from the The crisis of silver continued well beyond 1675 and was reported frequently from both ends of the coast at least till about 1678.231)Isaac Lawrence, an English factor stationed at Surat in 1678, mentioned a "great scarcity of money here, I meane rupees, which the like hath not beene known."232) There is thus considerable evidence to suggest that the steep fall in the gold
226) Waqai sarkar Ranthambhor wa Ajmer: no. 79, 678-9. 227) Ibid. 228) Original Correspondence 4258. See Foster 1925: 314-5. for the relevant portions of the letter, and English Factories, (NS): I, 267-8 for a summary. 229) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 107, 41. Original Correspondence 4062 cited in Chaudhuri 1978: 179. Generale Missiven: IV, 8. 230) Generale Missiven: IV, 8. 1 1 , 228 (1678). 231) Ibid.: 69 (1675), 91 (1676); English Factories (NS): I , 121 (1675); 1 232) Lawrence 1677-9: 54a, 55b, 63b.

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price was actually the result of an acute shortage of silver in probably the whole of the Mughal empire. Gold suffered especially in this period because of its continuous imports from both Europe and Asia.233) At the same time, the lack of silver money may have induced gold to be brought out of reserves and hoards from within the empire to make up for the shortfall in the monetary stock. It is also conceivable that with the appreciation in its value, some quantities of silver may have disappeared into hoarding. The account of the dishoarding of imperial gold, if at all true, could be just a symptom of this crisis rather than its cause. With more and more gold entering into circulation it is not surprising that its downhill slide continued well after the crisis of silver was over. It could not recover much of its lost esteem in the subsequent decade and continued to fetch a low price at Surat till 1697.234) The crisis obviously had its impact on the worlung of the Mughal monetary and fiscal apparatus. The two major administrative decisions taken in these years were to increase the mint price of silver by abolishing silver seigniorage,235) and, at the same time, to debase the rupee itself, perhaps for the first time in the entire history of the Mughal empire.z36) These measures were obviously intended to attract silver to the mint by offering more coins to the bullion holder out of the same amount of silver previously minted in order to expand the circulation of silver money from the existing stock. It seems that by 1678, with a partial improvement in the situation, the state decided to increase the fineness of the rupee. It was then reported that while the silver was available to the sarrafs, it was the slow working of the mints, due to the new regulations, which was preventing rupees from coming into the market.237) The reimposition of silver seigniorage in 1682 suggests that the state at least was quite positive about the situation.238) The restoration of the pre-existing mint regulations were, however, accompanied by a concerted attempt to monopolise the sale of bullion in order to maintain a regular supply to the mint.239) Another important outcome of the contraction in silver money was a shlft in the mode of payment from silver to gold for which our evidence points only to the military sector of the Mughal bureaucracy. The salaries of the soldiers
233) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 4, 116a, 161b; vol. 90, 94a-b; English Factories (NS): 111, 240. 234) Careri 1949: 253; English Factory at Surat, Persian Correspondence, OIOC, M S . Ethe 370: 63b. 235) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 4 , 43b; English Factories (NS): I , 282-3. 236) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 4 , 43a-b; vol. 90, 183a; Lawrence 1677-9: 55b; Algemeen Rijksarchief, VOC 1371: 428b; Generale Missiven: V, 563. 237) Factory Records, Surat: vol. 90, 183a; Lawrence 1677-9: 55b. 238) Khan 1927: I , 304; Factory Records, Dacca: vol. 1, 23a-b. 239) Khan 1927: I , 304.

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serving under the subadar of Bengal were being paid in gold in 1676,240) and we have already seen that a similar decision was taken at Ajmer in 1680.241) In both the cases, the Mughal officials tried to turn the adversity into an advantage by overvaluing the muhr at the expense of the soldiers. The impact of the dearth of silver on the prices of general commodities is less certain. That there was a widespread deflationary effect on the prices of European goods is clearly evident from the reports of the factors.242)They also complained about the difficulties in obtaining Indian goods which suggests either a fall in production or a breakdown of commercial networks.243)The latter, however, seems more pronounced in these statements, and may have resulted from falling sales and profits. In the letter of the Surat factor cited above the following remark was made:
These circumstances doe naturally produce a decay of commerce in the country; the rich moneyed men, who are the only support therof, chooseing rather to secure their estates then expose them in trade.244)

A little later, the evidence furnished by another factor suggested that the tightness of money was further deepened by a contraction of credit and the capital available to finance commerce.
[The value of imported goods was lower than had ever been known], which has lately ruined many considerable persons in these parts, every few acquainting us with failing of one eminent shroff or another, which has made money so extremely scarce in Surat as has infinitely obstructed its usual course of bade and put us to no small difficultie~.~~~)

The crisis clearly shows the extent to which the money supply in the Mughal market economy came to be identified with silver and the inability of gold to substitute for silver and credit to offer an alternative for money as well.
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Generale Missiven: IV, 163.


Waqai sarkar Ranthambhor wa Ajmer: no. 79, 678-79.
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