ParakramaBahu I : 1153 - 1186

Eighth massa

The Eighth massa cooper coin of ParakraramaBahu the Great (1153 - 1186), the most outstanding monarch of the Polonnaruwa Period. A golden epoch of Lankan history.

DenominationEighth massa
Diameter10. mm
Thickness mm
Weight0.55 gms
1153_parakramabahu~i_Em_obverse 1153_parakramabahu~i_Em_reverse
1/8 Massa Mitchiner #832
Obverse : Traditional Lankan massa design of standing King with alter in front
. Reverse : Nagari legend Sri Pa ra kra ma Ba hu

The gold Kahavanu denomination is also known, but very rare. Most of the full massa coins bearing the name ParakramaBahu were issued by later king of this name. This is a rare coin unlike the six common copper massa coins from the late Polonnaruwa and Dambadeniya era.

ParakramaBahu's reign is considered to mark the zenith of Lankan greatness. The king enlarged and fortified Polonnaruwa, and adorned the city with numerous palaces and pleasure gardens. The Jetavana monastery, as well as the sculptures at GalVihara are monuments to his religious generosity and aesthetic taste. Image on right is the famous 3.5 meter Rock-carved statue, of a Sage (believed to be ParakramaBahu) reading a ola-leaf manuscript. The three Buddhist sects of monks were united into one Nikaya Sanga, and he built the temple for the Tooth Relic, in the neighborhood of the Royal Palace. He paid attention to irrigation, built the great tank known as the `Sea of Parakrama' and insisted that no water flow to the sea without being used for rice cultivation. The period however saw many wars. In 1165, after Lankan ambassadors had been insulted by King Ramanna of Burma, over an issue involving restrictions on the international elephant trade, ParakramaBahu sent a fleet from the coast north of Trincomalee to set sail in the south-west monsoon and storm the city of Kusumiya on the Pegu River. In 1169 he sent his general Lankapura to help the Pandyan king, and became involved in a long costly campaign against the Cholas in south India. Brilliant undoubtedly, the wars and heavy taxation impoverished the island. He died in 1186 after ruling 33 years. Parakamabahu

Text edited from
* A Short History of Ceylon: H. W. Codrington, London, MacMillan & Co. Ltd., 1929.
* Oriental Coins: Michael Mitchiner, London, Hawkins Publications, 1978.

The coin was scanned at 600dpi and displayed at 600dpi. It was purchased on ebay in March 2000 from a dealer in US and as yet not been authenticated. In June 1998 I purchased a lower grade coin from a collector in UK. The script on which is slightly different.