Kautilya Arthashastra

by R. Shamasastry | 1956 | 174,809 words | ISBN-13: 9788171106417

The English translation of Arthashastra, which ascribes itself to the famous Brahman Kautilya (also named Vishnugupta and Chanakya) and dates from the period 321-296 B.C. The topics of the text include internal and foreign affairs, civil, military, commercial, fiscal, judicial, tables of weights, measures of length and divisions of time. Original ...

Chapter 14 - The Duties of the State Goldsmith in the High Road

The state goldsmith[1] shall employ artisans to manufacture gold and silver coins (rūpyasuvarṇa[2]) from the bullion of citizens and country people.

The artisans employed in the office shall do their work as ordered and in time. When under the excuse that time and nature of the work has not been prescribed, they spoil the work, they shall not only forfeit their wages, but also pay a fine of twice the amount of their wages. When they postpone work, they shall forfeit one-fourth the amount of their wages and pay a fine of twice the amount of the forfeited wages.

(The goldsmith of the mint) shall return (to the owners coins or ornaments) of the same weight and of the same quality (varṇa) as that of the bullion (nikṣepa) which they received (at the mint). With exception of those (coins) which have been worn out or which have undergone diminution (kṣinapariśīrṇa), they shall receive the same coins (back into the mint) even after the lapse of a number of years.

The state goldsmith shall gather from the artisans employed in the mint information concerning pure gold, metallic mass (pudgala),[3] coins (lakṣaṇa)[4] and rate of exchange (prayoga).[5]

In getting a suvarṇa coin (of 16 māṣas) manufactured from gold or from silver, one kākaṇi (one-fourth māṣa) weight of the metal more shall be given to the mint towards the loss in manufacture.

The colouring ingredient (rāgaprakṣepa) shall be two kākaṇis of ṭikṣṇa (copper sulphate?), one-sixth of which will be lost during the manufacture.

When the quality (varṇa) of a coin less than the standard of a māṣa is lowered, the artisans (concerned) shall be punished with the first amercement. When its weight is less than the standard weight, they shall be punished with the middlemost amercement. Deception in balance or weights shall be punished with the highest amercement. Deception in the exchange of manufactured coins (kṛtabhāṇḍopadhau) shall also be punished with the highest amercement.

Whoever causes (gold or silver articles) to be manufactured in any place other than the mint or without being noticed by the state goldsmith shall be fined 12 paṇas, while the artisan who does that work shall, if found out, be punished with twice the above fine. If he is not found out, measures such as are described in Book IV shall be taken to detect him. When thus detected, he shall be fined 200 paṇas or shall have his fingers cut off.[6]

Weighing balance and counterweights shall be purchased from the superintendent in charge of them. Otherwise a fine of 12 paṇas shall be imposed.

Compact work (ghana), compact and hollow work (ghanasuṣira),[7] soldering (saṃyūhya),[8] amalgamation (avalepya),[9] enclosing (saṃghātya),[10] and gilding (vāsitaka),[11] are the various kinds of artisan work (kārukarma).[12]

False balances (tulāviṣama), removal (apasāraṇa), dropping (visrāvaṇa), folding (peṭaka), and confounding (piṅka) are the several means employed by goldsmiths to deceive the public.

False balances are—that of bending arms (sannāminī); that of high helm or pivot (utkarṇikā); that of broken head (bhinnamastaka); that of hollow neck (upakaṇṭhī) that of bad strings (kuśikyā); that of bad cups or pans (sakaṭukakṣyā); that which is crooked or shaking (pārivellyā); and that which is combined with a magnet (ayaskānta).

When, by what is called Tripuṭaka, which consists of two parts of silver and one part of copper, an equal portion of pure alluvial gold is replaced, that deceitful act is termed copper-removal (tripuṭakāvasārita); when, by copper, an equal portion of gold is replaced, that act is termed copper-removal (śulbāvasārita); when by vellaka[13] an equal portion of gold is replaced, it is termed vellaka-removal; and when pure alluvial gold is replaced by that gold half of which is mixed with copper, it is termed gold-removal (hemāvasārita).

A crucible with a base metallic piece hidden in it; metallic excrement; pincers; a pair of tongs; metallic pieces (joṅganī); and borax (sauvarcikālavaṇa)—these are the several things which are made use of by goldsmiths in stealing gold.

When, intentionally causing the crucible (containing the bullion) to burst, a few sand-like particles of the metal are picked up along with other particles of a base metal previously put therein, and the whole is wrought into a mass (for the intended coin or ornament), this act is termed dropping (visrāvaṇa); or when examining the folded or inlaid leaves of an ornament (ācitakapatraparīkṣāyā) deception is perpetrated by substituting silver for gold, or when particles of a base metal are substituted for those of gold, it is termed droppping (visrāvaṇa) likewise.

Folding (peṭaka) either firm (gāḍha) or loose (abhyuddhārya) is practised in soldering, in preparing amalgams, and in enclosing (a piece of base metal with two pieces of a superior metal).

When a lead piece (sīsarūpa—lead coin) is firmly covered over with gold leaf by means of wax (aṣṭaka), that act is termed gāḍhapeṭaka, firm folding; and when the same is loosely folded, it is termed loose folding.

In amalgams, a single or double layer (of a superior metal) is made to cover a piece (of base metal). Copper or silver may also be placed between two leaves (of a superior metal). A copper piece (śulbarūpya) may be covered over with gold leaf, the surface and the edges being smoothened; similarly a piece of any base metal may be covered over with double leaf of copper or silver, the surface and the edges being smoothened.

The two forms of folding may be detected by heating, by testing on touchstone (nikaṣa) or by observing absence of sound when it is rubbed (niśśabdollekhana).

(They) find[14] out loose folding in the acid juice of badarāmla (Flacourtia cataphracta or jujube fruit) or in salt water—so much for folding (peṭaka).

In a compact and hollow piece (ghana-suṣire rūpe), small particles of gold-like mud (suvarṇamṛnvālukā) or bit of vermilion (hiṅgulukakallka) are so heated as to make them firmly adhere to the piece inside. Even in a compact piece (dṛḍhavāstuke rūpe), the wax-like mud of Gāndhāra mixed with the particles of gold-like sand is so heated as to adhere to the piece. These two kinds of impurities are got rid of by hammering the pieces when red hot.

In an ornament or a coin (sapari-bhāṇḍe vā rūpe) salt mixed with hard sand (kaṭuśarkarā) is so heated in flame as to make it firmly adhere to (the ornament or coin). This (salt and sand) can be got rid of by boiling (kvāthana).[15]

In some pieces, mica may be firmly fixed inside by wax and covered over with a double leaf (of gold or silver). When such a piece with mica or glass inside is suspended in water (udake)[16] one of its sides dips[17] more than the other; or when pierced by a pin, the pin goes vere easily in the layers of mica in the interior (paṭalāntareṣu).

Spurious stones and counterfeit gold and silver may be substituted for real ones in compact and hollow pieces (ghanasuṣira). They are detected by hammering the pieces when red hot—so much for confounding (piṅka).

Hence (the state goldsmith) shall have a thorough knowledge of the species, characteristics, colour, weight, and formation (pudgalalakṣaṇa) of diamonds, precious stones (maṇi), pearls, corals and coins (rūpa).

There are four ways of deception perpetrated when examining new pieces or repairing old ones: they are hammering, cutting, scratching and rubbing.

When, under the excuse of detecting the deception known as folding (peṭaka) in hollow pieces or in threads or in cups (made of gold or silver), the articles in question are hammered, that act is termed hammering.

When a lead piece (covered over with gold or silver leaf) is substituted for a real one and its interior is cut off, it is termed cutting (avacchedana).

When compact pieces are scratched by ṭīkṣṇa (copper sulphate?), that act is termed scratching (ullekhana).

When, by a piece of cloth painted with the powder of sulphuret of arsenic (haritāla), red arsenic (manaśśilā), or vermilion or with the powder of kuruvinda (black salt?), gold or silver articles are rubbed, that act is termed rubbing.

By these acts, gold and silver articles (bhāṇḍāni) undergo diminution; but no other kind of injury is done to them.

In all those pieces which are hammered, cut, scratched, or rubbed the loss can be inferred by comparing them with intact pieces of similar description. In amalgamated pieces (avalepya) which are cut off, the loss can be ascertained by cutting off an equal portion of a similar piece. Those pieces the appearance of which has changed shall be often heated and drenched in water.

(The state goldsmith) shall infer deception (kācam vidyāt) when [the artisan preparing articles pays undue attention to] throwing away, counterweight, fire, anvil (gaṇḍikā), working instruments (bhaṇḍikā), the seat (adhikaraṇī), the assaying balance, folds of dress (cellachollaka),[18] his head, his thigh, flies, eagerness to look at his own body, the waterpot, and the firepot.

Regarding silver, bad smell like that of rotten meat, hardness due to any alloy (mala), projection (prastīna), and bad colour may be considered as indicating adulteration.

Thus articles (of gold and silver) new or old, or of bad or unusual colour, are to be examined and adequate fines as described above shall be imposed.[19]

[Thus ends Chapter XIV, “The Duties of the State Goldsmith in the High Road,” in Book II, “The Duties of Government Superintendents” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya. End of thirty-fifth chapter from the beginning.]

Footnotes and references:


See Chap. XIII, Book II.


“rūpyamayam suvarṇamayam vā bhāṇḍam kārṣāpaṇādikam”.—Silver or gold articles, kārṣāpaṇa and the like.—Com.


Ornaments, etc.—Com.


Lakṣaṇa, Chinhita, i.e. stamped or marked pieces.—Com.


Prayoga, parivartana, i.e. exchange.—Com.


Paṇacchedana, pañcāṅgulichedana.—Com.


Such as gold cups.—Com.


Such as gold flowers.—Com.


Such as fine gold flowers.


Such as waistbands.—Com.


Such as gilding with mercury.—Com.


That which contains mercury in an orifice in its pivot or arm.—Com.


Vellaka is a compound of ṭīkṣṇa and silver in equal proportion.—Com.


Sādhayanti; others read “Sādayanti,” “hammer.”—Com.


Boiling in the acid of jujube fruit.—Com.


In the acid of jujube fruit.—Com.


Is test by specific gravity meant here?—Trans.


Others read “cellabollana,” “story-telling.”—Com.


In śloka-metre.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: