MATERIAL: Copper
TYPE: Manuscript
DIMENSIONS: 28 x 35.5 cm.
COMPONENTS: Two copper plates inscribed on two sides with two holes for binding.
ITEM ID: 412
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Royal Hindu Copper Edict

DATE
Year: 661
Decade: 660s
Century: 7th (601-700)

A Royal Hindu Copper Edict on two copper plates written in Sanskrit. Maitraka King Siladitya II. These royal edicts constitute some of the oldest Indian manuscripts of any type and afford a rare and vivid insight into the life of the late Gupta Empire. The plates are of a type known as ‘Valhabi’ edicts on account of the formula that opens many of them, citing ‘Valhabi’, the capital of the Maitraka dynasty, as the place of issue.

The present edict is a land grant issued by a Maitraka king calling himself Siladitya, ‘Sun of the Righteous Conduct’, in the 362nd year of the Gupta-Valabhi era which began in 319 A.D., e.g. in 681 A.D. The royal authority behind the edict is emphasized at the end of the document with the statement: svahasto, “This is my own hand.”

Following the genealogy provided in the edict, the king would appear to be Siladitya II, the 15th ruler of Valabhi. Significantly, the edict appears to have been issued from a temporary military base (vijayaskandha or ‘camp of victory’) during a campaign. This detail reveals the peripatetic nature of the Maitraka court, the mobility of which was necessary for the defence of the realm.

These royal edicts constitute some of the oldest Indian manuscripts of any type and afford a rare and vivid insight into the life of the late Gupta Empire. The plates are of a type known as “Valhabi” edicts on account of the formula that opens many of them, citing “Valhabi,” the capital of the Maitraka dynasty, as the place of issue.