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0268 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 268 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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Mr. Thomas has also considered the question, to which I was necessarily led as to the relative values of gold and silver at that day in India. His conclusions are in the same direction to which my remarks (at p. 442) point in the words, "it is very conceivable that the relative value at Delhi should have been ten to one, or even less," but they go much further, for he estimates it at eight to one.

It seems probable that ten to one or thereabouts was the normal relation in the civilised kingdoms of Asia during the thirteenth century, but it is reasonable to suppose that the enormous plunder of gold in the Dekkan during the reign of Mahomed Tughlak himself and his immediate predecessors must for a time at least have diminished the relative value of gold considerably.'

1 Some illustration of the popular view of this influx of gold is given at p. 442. Another anecdote bearing on the subject is quoted at p. ccxliii (supra). And the Masdlak-al-Absdr says that Mahomed Bin Yusuf Thakafi found in the province of Sind 40 bahar of gold, each bahar equal to 333 mann, i.e., in all some 333,000 pounds of gold.

Mr. Thomas seems to be of opinion that 8 to 1 was about the normal relation of gold to silver in Asia during the time of Mahomed Tughlak and the preceding age, and he quotes in support of this the statement of Marco Polo, which I have referred to in a different view at p. 442, that gold in Caraian (part of Yunan) bore that relation to silver. But this was a remote province immediately adjoining still more secluded regions producing gold in which the exchange went down to 6 and 5 to 1. I understand Polo as mentioning the exchange of even 8 to 1 as something remarkable.

The relation between the two metals has followed no constant progression. American silver raised the value of gold in the sixteenth and succeeding centuries, whilst recent gold discoveries are now lowering it again. Minor influences of like kind no doubt acted before. Such authorities as I have been able to refer to say that in the time of the early Roman Empire the relation was 122 to 1 ; under the Lower Empire, about the time of Justinian, a little more than 14 to 1; in the early. Mahomedan times it varied from 133 to 15 to 1. In the " dark ages" of Europe it sunk in some countries as low as 10 to 1; in the time of Charles the Bald in France (843-877) it was 12 to 1. In Florence in 1356 it was 12 to 1; in England about the same time 12 to 1; and this seems to have been the prevailing relation till the American discoveries took effect. But it seems improbable that 8 to 1 could have been maintained for many years as the relation in India and other kingdoms of Asia whilst the relation in Europe was so different. The former relation was maintained I believe in Japan to our own day, but then there was a wall of iron round the kingdom.

Supposing, as I do, that Ibn Batuta's tangah and dinar were the old standard gold and silver coins of 175 grs. each, then the fact that the tangah was worth 10 dinars is in my view an indication of what had been at least the relative value of the two metals. And the statement of the Tdrikh-i-Wassaf (see pp. 116, 442) that the gold balish was worth ten times the silver balish comes in to confirm this.

It has occurred to me as just possible that the changes made by Ma-homed Tughlak in the coinage may have had reference to the depreciation of gold owing to the " Great Dekkan Prize-money" of that age. Thus, previous to his time, we have the gold and silver coins of equal weight and bearing (according to the view which has been explained) a