c.125 CE–c.300 CE[1]
Portrait of Paratarajas ruler Kozana circa 200-220 CE.jpg
Portrait of Paratarajas ruler Kozana circa 200-220 CE.[2]
Core territory and possible maximum extent of Paradan,[3] and neighbouring polities in Southern Asia in the 2nd century CE.[4]
Historical eraLate Antiquity
• Established
c.125 CE
• Disestablished
c.300 CE[1]
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Indo-Parthian Kingdom
Hind (Sasanian province)
Today part ofPakistan

The Pāratarājas (Brahmi:

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Pāratarāja, Kharosthi: 𐨤𐨪𐨟𐨪𐨗 Pa-ra-ta-ra-ja, Parataraja, "Kings of Pārata") or Pāradarājas was a dynasty of Parthian kings in the territory of modern-day western Pakistan from circa 125 CE to circa 300 CE.[1] It appears to have been a tribal polity of Western Iranic heritage.[5]


The ancient history of Balochistan, western Pakistan, is scarcely documented.[6] The Paratarajas polity is known through coinage, which has been primarily found in and around Loralai.[1][a]


The name "Parataraja" in the Brahmi script ( Pāratarāja) on a coin of Arjuna.[7]
The name "Parataraja" in the Brahmi script (Gupta girnar paa.pngGupta girnar r.svgGupta ashoka t.svgGupta girnar raa.pngGupta ashoka j.svg Pāratarāja) on a coin of Arjuna.[7]

E. J. Rapson first studied the coinage in 1905; it was subjected to a comprehensive evaluation by B. N. Mukherjee in 1972; these studies have been since superseded by analyses by Pankoj Tandon and Harry Falk.

Coinage was issued in five denominations: didrachms, drachms, hemidrachms, quarter drachms, and obols; all rulers did not issue every denomination. The first six rulers minted stable denominations in silver that were devalued and then replaced by billon than copper.[8] Tandon notes multiple similarities with Indo-Parthian coinage, especially in the metrological standards and shape, and the coinage of the Western Satraps, especially in materials.[9][b]

The coins exhibit a bust on the obverse and a swastika—either right-facing or left-facing—on the reverse, circumscribed by a Prakrit legend in Brahmi script (usually silver coins) or Kharoshthi script (usually copper coins).[1] This legend carried the name of the issuer followed by patronymic, and identification as the "King of Paratas".[1] The die engraver often left the legend incomplete if he ran out of room, a quirk that is peculiar to the Paratarajas.


Two contemporaneous inscriptions refer to the polity. The Paikuli inscription, which was erected by Narseh (293-302) after his victory over Bahram III, noted an anonymous "Pāradānshah" (King of Pardan) to have been among his many congratulators.[6]

Shapur I's inscription at the Ka'ba-ye Zartosht in Naqsh-i-Rustam, which is dated to 262, had "P'rtu"/"Pardan" as one of the many provinces of the Sasanian Empire:[11]

And I [Shapur I] possess the lands: Fars Persis, Pahlav [Parthia] ... and all of Abarshahr [all the upper (eastern, Parthian) provinces], Kerman, Sakastan, Turgistan, Makuran, Pardan Paradene, Hind [Sind] and Kushanshahr all the way to Pashkibur [Peshawar?] and to the borders of Kashgaria, Sogdia and Chach [Tashkent] and of that sea-coast Mazonshahr [Oman].[12]

The Tor Dherai inscribed potsherds mentioning the Parataraja Yolamira
The Tor Dherai inscribed potsherds mentioning the Parataraja Yolamira

In 1926 and 1927, Aurel Stein commanded an excavation at the ruins of a Buddhist site at Tor Dherai in Loralai and discovered potsherds carrying Prakrit inscriptions in Brahmi and Kharosthi scripts.[13][c] Sten Konow, publishing the report about three years later, failed to understand the Brahmi legends but interpreted the Kharosthi legend as:[13]

Of the Shahi Yola Mira, the master [owner[d]] of the vihara, this water hall [is] the religious gift, in his own Yola-Mira-shahi-Vihara, to the order of the four quarters, in the acceptance of the Sarvastivadin teachers. And from this right donation may there be in future a share for [his] mother and father, in future a share for all beings and long life for the master of the law.[13]

Yola Mira, a king whose existence was unknown at the time of the excavation, has since been determined form coin finds to be the earliest Parataraja king.[14] The potsherds remain the only non-numismatic evidence for any of the Parataraja rulers.[8]

Classical literature

No mention of the dynasty is found in extant literature; however, classical literature in Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit make mention of tribal polities named "Parētakēnoí" (Πᾰρητᾰκηνοί), "Pareitakai/Pareitacae" (Παρειτάκαις), "Parsidai" (Παρ?óδòν > Παρσιδὦν (?)), "Paraetaceni", "Paradene" (Παραδηνή) and "Parada". Tandon accepts Mukherjee's theory all of these names refer to the same entity, who gave rise to the dynasty; he cites Datayola's coin-inscriptions in support.

Around 440 BCE, Herodotus described of the Parētakēnoí as one of the Median tribes that were collectively ruled by Deiokes.[5] Arrian records Alexander the Great encountered the Pareitakai in Sogdian province; a siege was mounted but eventually their ruler offered submission and was rewarded with governorship of other provinces.[5][15] Contemporaneous historians Quintus Curtius Rufus, Strabo, and Plutarch reiterate the account.[15] Isidore of Charax (fl. 0 C.E - ?)[e] noted Paraitakene was the geographical area beyond Sakastene.[5] The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (1st century CE) describes the territory of the Parsidai beyond the Ommanitic region on the coast of Balochistan.[5] The contemporaneous text Natural History by Pliny records the Paraetaceni to be between Aria and Parthia.[5] Ptolemy notes Paradene was a toponym for an interior region of Gedrosia.[5]


According to Classical literature, the Paratarajas was a migrant tribal polity that originated in the territory of modern-day north-western Iran or further east, and migrated over centuries to the eastern fringes of Parthian territory, where it may have reached its peak as an independent polity.[9][16] Neither the two inscriptions nor the coinage document the kingdom to any geographic precision.[17]

Most scholars have placed the polity in western Balochistan, west of Turan and east of Siestan, largely catering to individual biases.[18] Tandon challenged this "implicit consensus"; he hypothesized Shapur I's inscription listed regions in a geographical order from west to east, demarcating Pardan between the inexact provinces Makran and Hind.[18] Deriving support from the abundant finds of Parataraja coins and potsherds in Loralai, Tandon proposed the Paratarajas ruled the district and its surrounds, probably extending in the west to modern-day Quetta (or Kandahar) and in the north-east to modern-day Zhob.[19]


There exists no conclusive evidence to date the establishment of Paratarajas in Balochistan.[20] Tandon proposed an approximate date of 125 CE using circumstantial evidence:[21]

The disintegration of Paratarajas can be predicted with more confidence.[24] Two overstrikes by Datayola— the last extant Parataraja ruler—on coins of the Kushano-Sasanian ruler Hormizd I provide a terminus post quem of c. 275 CE[24] Accepting this schema allots about 15 years per ruler, which fits with the norms for ancient dynasties; additionally, Koziya can be assigned to about c. 230, whose incorporation of a bust adorning a curved hem on the coin obverse can be correlated to the contemporaneous Kanishka II.[25]



A rough lineage of Paratarajas rulers can be reconstructed from numismatic evidence as follows:


The frequent referencing of Mithra, a Zoroastrian deity, in the names of the rulers lends credence to the origins of the Paratarajas lying in the Far West.[9] The Paratarajas were probably Zoroastrian by faith but they likely patronized Buddhism as well.[37] Tandon said the Paratarajas may have been Parthian vassals who declared independence, leveraging the weakening of imperial authority and a burgeoning trade with the Roman Empire.[16]

The only significant information about their rule is that they flourished as an intermediary state between three major powers—the Kushanas to the north, the Western Satraps to the east, and the Sassanids to the west—for about two centuries.[38]

Their fall can be correlated to the well-corroborated decline in Indo-Roman trade volume beginning in the mid-3rd century and then, Shapur II's devastating Eastern Campaign. Tandon rejects the idea were conquered by the Sasanians as early as 262—as attested in Shapur I's inscription—because Parata coins continued to be abundant without exhibiting any abrupt Sassanian influence as in the case of Bactria, and because the region was not claimed as a Sassanian territory in future inscriptions like Kartir's, at Naqsh-e Rajab.[37][g]


Coins carrying an inscription of "śrī rājño sāhi vijayapotasya" ("Of the noble Lord, King Vijayapota") on the reverse have been found around Loralai; based on the presence of a crescent at the brow of the obverse bust, a terminus post quem of c. 400 corresponding to Sassanian shahanshah Yazdegerd I can be assigned.[39] Despite a marked contrast in the legend and the long gap from Datayola, the common use of the swastika as the central motif on the reverse and a similarity in metrological standards led Tandon to hypothesize Vijayapotasya might have been either a Parataraja or a ruler from a successor dynasty that exercised nominal independence despite the strong presence of Sassanians in the region.[40]


  1. ^ Finds have been also reported from Zhob, Quetta, Chaman, and Kandahar.
  2. ^ Tandon rejects Sassanian influence on the coins.[10] This is rejected by Nikolaus Schindel.
  3. ^ The finds are presently in the Central Antiquities Collection, Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi.
  4. ^ Consult Schopen (1996) on why this is a better choice.
  5. ^ We get this information from Stathmoi Parthikoi, which is believed to have been excerpted from a now-lost exhaustive account of Parthian Empire. This account, in turn was likely dependent on an older survey dating back to the times of Mithridates II.
  6. ^ The individual dates are rough estimates based on approximate general dates about the dynasty and reconstructions of the lineage, and Tandon gives two possible starting points, in 125 CE and 150 CE.
  7. ^ Tandon leaves open the possibility the Paratas might had been nominative vassals.


  1. ^ a b c d e Tandon 2021, p. 1.
  2. ^ CNG Coins
  3. ^ Tandon 2012, p. 30-31, 46.
  4. ^ Schwartzberg, Joseph E. (1978). A Historical atlas of South Asia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 21, 145. ISBN 0226742210.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Tandon 2006.
  6. ^ a b Tandon 2012, p. 27.
  7. ^ TANDON, PANKAJ (2009). "Further Light on the Pāratarājas: an Absolute Chronology of the Brāhmī and Kharoṣṭhī Series". The Numismatic Chronicle. 169: 137–171. ISSN 0078-2696.
  8. ^ a b Tandon 2021, p. 2.
  9. ^ a b c Tandon 2012, p. 36.
  10. ^ Tandon 2021, p. 37.
  11. ^ Tandon 2012, p. 28.
  12. ^ Shapur I's inscription at the Ka'ba-ye Zartosht]] (262 CE), translation by Josef Wiesehöfer (1996). The complete paragraph says:
    And I [Shapur I]] possess the lands: Fars [Persis], Pahlav [Parthia], Huzestan [Khuzistan], Meshan [Maishan, Mesene], Asorestan [Mesopotamia], Nod-Ardakhshiragan [Adiabene], Arbayestan [Arabia], Adurbadagan [Atropatene], Armen [Armenia], Virozan [Iberia], Segan [Machelonia], Arran [Albania], Balasagan up to the Caucasus and to the ‘gate of the Alans’ and all of Padishkhvar[gar] [the entire Elburz chain = Tabaristan and Gelan (?)], Mad [Media], Gurgan [Hyrcania], Marv [Margiana], Harey [Aria], and all of Abarshahr [all the upper (= eastern, Parthian) provinces], Kerman [Kirman], Sakastan, Turgistan, Makuran, Pardan [Paradene], Hind [Sind] and Kushanshahr all the way to Pashkibur [Peshawar?] and to the borders of Kashgaria, Sogdia and Chach [Tashkent] and of that sea-coast Mazonshahr [Oman].
    in Wiesehöfer, Josef (1996). Ancient Persia : from 550 BC to 650 AD. London: I.B. Tauris. p. 184. ISBN 978-1860646751.
  13. ^ a b c Tandon 2012, p. 31.
  14. ^ Tandon 2012, p. 31-32.
  15. ^ a b Chaumont, Marie Louise. "CHORIENES". Encyclopedia Iranica.
  16. ^ a b Tandon 2012, p. 37-38.
  17. ^ Tandon 2012, p. 26.
  18. ^ a b Tandon 2012, p. 29-30.
  19. ^ Tandon 2012, p. 30-31.
  20. ^ Tandon 2012, p. 34.
  21. ^ a b Tandon 2012, p. 34-35.
  22. ^ Tandon 2021, p. 1-2.
  23. ^ Tandon 2020, p. 3.
  24. ^ a b Tandon 2012, p. 35.
  25. ^ Tandon 2012, p. 35-36.
  26. ^ Tandon 2021, p. 2-3.
  27. ^ Tandon 2021, p. 3.
  28. ^ Tandon 2021, p. 4-5.
  29. ^ Tandon 2021, p. 5.
  30. ^ Tandon 2021, p. 6-7.
  31. ^ Tandon 2021, p. 7-8.
  32. ^ Tandon 2021, p. 8-9.
  33. ^ Tandon 2021, p. 9-10.
  34. ^ Tandon 2021, p. 10-12.
  35. ^ Tandon 2021, p. 12-13.
  36. ^ Tandon 2021, p. 13-14.
  37. ^ a b Tandon 2012, p. 38-40.
  38. ^ Tandon 2012, p. 45.
  39. ^ Tandon 2020, p. 5-6.
  40. ^ Tandon 2020, p. 6-7.