Social Scientist. v 2, no. 22 (May 1974) p. 42.

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Accumulation of Gold in Tanjore Temple-An enquiry into its sources

THE construction of the Big temple at Tanjore was completed before the reign of Raja Raja I ended. Before his 28th regnal year the temple had acquired a prodigious quantity of gold in the shape of jewels and vessels. The present paper makes an attempt to inquire into the sources from which gold was accumulated in the temple.

The main source materials for this enquiry are collected from Raja Raja's inscriptions1 found in the Big temple on the Vim Ana. These inscriptions point to a very large hoard of gold in the temple. An inscription of the 29th regnal year of Raja Raja I states that the jewels and vessels were weighed and an inventory made and recorded in an inscription. Similar inventories were made several times during the 28th and 29th regnal years of Raja Raja.2

Reading through the whole corpus of the inscriptions, one can conclude that the temple at the time of the inscriptions was in possession of several thousand kalanchus of gold in the form of jewels, plates, idols of gods, ornamental articles, vessels, flower like ornaments of gold etc. Kalanchu is a small standard weight used to measure the weight of precious metal. One finds a long list of these articles in the possession of the Big temple in Raja Rajahs inscriptions inscribed on the Vim Ana.8

The inventories not only give a list of articles gifted to the temple but also indicate how the gold was obtained to make the jewels, vessels etc.

Emergence of Money Economy

Gold assumes great value when money economy emerges with the development of trade in a particular region. During the reign of Raja Raja, there was a phenomenal increase in internal trade due to the territorial expansion of the Ghola empire and extension of the territorial market. Evidence is also available which shows that extensive trade flourished between the Empire and south east Asian kingdoms and China on the one hand and the Arabian countries on the other. Tax on trade and customs duties were paid in gold.4

Hence gold accumulated in the royal coffers. Part of the gold was used for minting coins and another part to pay for imports and as loans to merchant guilds. For internal exchange of commodities barter

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