Paratarajas
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)
Kushano-Sasanians
Today part ofPakistan

The Pāratarājas (Brahmi:

Gupta girnar paa.png
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Pāratarāja, Kharosthi: 𐨤𐨪𐨟𐨪𐨗 Pa-ra-ta-ra-ja, Parataraja, "Kings of Pārata") or Pāradarājas was a dynasty of Parthian kings, and ruling family from what is now Pakistan, from circa 125 CE to circa 300 CE.[1]

The Pāratas are thought to be identical with the Pāradas of Indian literature.[5]

Sources

Coinage

The name "Parataraja" in the Brahmi script ( Pāratarāja) on a coin of Arjuna.[6]
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.[6]

Ancient history of Balochistan is scarcely documented.[7] The dynasty is essentially known through their coinage which have been primarily found in and around the district of Loralai, Balochistan, western Pakistan.[1][a] The coinage was first studied by E. J. Rapson in 1905 before being subject to a comprehensive evaluation by B. N. Mukherjee in 1972; they have been since superseded by Pankoj Tandon's analyses alongside Harry Falk.

Coinage was issued in five denominations: didrachms, drachms, hemidrachms, quarter drachms, and obols. However all rulers did not issue every denomination. The first six rulers minted stable denominations in silver, before they were devalued and then gave way to billon followed by copper.[8] Tandon notes multiple similarities with Indo-Parthian coinage esp. in the metrological standards and shape, as well as with the coinage of the Western Satraps, esp. in fabric.[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 peculiar to the Paratarajas.

Classical literature

No mention of the dynasty is found in extant literature; however classical literature — in Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit — mention of tribal polities, variously named "Parētakēnoí" (Πᾰρητᾰκηνοί), "Paraitakai", "Paretaceni", and "Parada". Tandon accepts Mukherjee's suggestion about all of them referring to the same entity, which gave rise to the dynasty.

C. 440 BCE, Herodotus described of the Parētakēnoí as one of the Median tribes, collectively ruled by Deiokes.[5] Arrian described how Alexander the Great on encountering the Paraitakai in Bactria and Sogdiana, had Craterus conquer them.[5] Isidore of Charax (fl. 0 C.E - ?)[c] noted "Paraitakene" to be the geographical area beyond Sakastene.[5] The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (1st century CE) describes the territory of the Paradon beyond the Ommanitic region, on the coast of Balochistan.[5]

Inscriptions

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

In 1926-1927, Aurel Stein commandeered an excavation at the ruins of a Buddhist site at "Tor Dherai" in Loralai to come across potsherds carrying Prakrit inscriptions, in Brahmi as well as Kharosthi script.[11][d] Sten Konow, publishing the report about three years later, failed to understand the Brahmi legends but interpreted the Kharosthi legend as:[11]

Of the Shahi Yola Mira, the master [owner[e]] 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.

— Tor Dherai inscribed potsherds.[11]

Yola Mira, while an unknown King at the time of the excavation, has been since determined to be the earliest Parataraja King from coin-finds.[12] This remains the only non-numismatic evidence for any of the Paratarjas.[8]

Geography

The Paikuli inscription, erected by Narseh (293-302) on his victory over Bahram III, noted one "Pāradānshah" (King of Pardan) to have been among his many congratulators.[7] Shapur I's trilingual inscription at the Ka'ba-ye Zartosht in Naqsh-i-Rustam, dated to 262 CE, had noted "P'rtu"/"Pardan" to be among one of the many provinces of the Sasanian Empire:[13]

Parthian version of the Shapur I inscription at Ka'ba-ye Zartosht.
Parthian version of the Shapur I inscription at Ka'ba-ye Zartosht.

"And I (Shapur I) possess the lands: Fars Persis, Pahlav (Parthia) (......) 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)."

However, no other inscription or literature documents this place, rendering any identification or geolocation contentious;[17] nonetheless, most scholars place it in West Balochistan, west of Turan and east of Siestan.[18]

Tandon, operating on the hypothesis that Shapur I's inscription had listed regions in a geographical order from West to East and that the Pāradānshah was a Parataraja ruler,[f] challenges this "implicit consensus" and sandwiches Pardan between the inexact provinces of Makran and Hind.[18] Deriving support from the abundant finds of Parataraja coins and potsherds, Tandon centers Pardan around Loralai, probably extending in the west to modern-day Quetta (or Kandahar) and in the north-east to modern-day Zhob.[19]

Dating

There exists no conclusive evidence to date the establishment of Paratarajas.[20] Tandon proposes a rough date of c. 125, hypothesizing on circumstantial evidence:[21]

However, the probable disintegration of Paratarajas can be predicted with more confidence.[24] A couple of overstrikes by Datayola — the last extant Parataraja ruler — on coins of the Kushano-Sasanian ruler Hormizd I (ruled c. 275 to 300) provide a terminus post quem of c. 275 C.E.[24] Accepting this schema allots about 15 years per ruler, which fits with the usual norms for ancient dynasties; additionally, Koziya can be assigned to about c. 230, whose incorporation of a bust, adorning curved hem, on the coin obverse can be correlated to the contemporaneous Kanishka II.[25]

History

Rulers

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

Overview

Based on classical sources, Tandon assumes the Paratas to have originated in northwestern Iran or further east; the frequent referencing of Mithra in the name of the rulers lend credence to such a hypothesis.[9] They appear to have migrated across the centuries to the eastern fringes of Parthian territory, where they would declare independence, probably leveraging the weakening of imperial authority and a burgeoning trade with the Roman Empire.[37]

The Paratas 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, in light of their abundant coinage.[38] Nothing else of significance can be obtained; they were probably Zoroastrians but patronaged Hinduism as well as Buddhism.

Tandon speculates the fall of the Paratarajas to be the outcome of the well-corroborated decline in Indo-Roman trade volume (c. mid-3rd century onward) and then, Shapur II's devastating Eastern Campaign; he rejects that they were conquered by the Sasanians as early as 262 CE — as construable from Shapur I's inscription — since Parata coins continued to be abundant without exhibiting any abrupt Sassanian influence as in the case of Bactria etc. and the region was not mentioned in future inscriptions like Kartir's at Naqsh-e Rajab.[39][h]

Legacy

From around Loralai, multiple coins carrying an inscription of a certain "śrī rājño sāhi vijayapotasya" ("Of the noble Lord, King Vijayapota") on the reverse have been found; 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.[40] Despite a marked contrast in the legend and the long gap from Datayola, the common usage of Swastika as the central motif on the reverse and similarity in metrological standards leads Tandon to hypothesize that Vijayapotasya might have been a Parataraja or a ruler from a successor dynasty, who managed to exercise nominal independence despite the strong presence of Sassanians in the region.[41]

Notes

  1. ^ Finds have been also reported from Zhob, Quetta, Chaman, and Kandahar.
  2. ^ At the same time, Tandon rejects Sassanian influence on the coins.[10] This is rejected by Nikolaus Schindel.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ The finds are presently in the Central Antiquities Collection, Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi.
  5. ^ Consult Schopen (1996) on why this is a better choice.
  6. ^ See our discussion of Datayola's coins where both Pāradarāja and Pāratarāja are used in the legend.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Tandon leaves open the possibility that the Paratas might had been nominative vassals.

References

  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 Tandon 2006.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b Tandon 2012, p. 27.
  8. ^ a b Tandon 2021, p. 2.
  9. ^ a b Tandon 2012, p. 36.
  10. ^ Tandon 2021, p. 37.
  11. ^ a b c Tandon 2012, p. 31.
  12. ^ Tandon 2012, p. 31-32.
  13. ^ Tandon 2012, p. 28.
  14. ^ The complete paragraph goes:
    "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.
  15. ^ For a secondary source see Kia, Mehrdad (27 June 2016). The Persian Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia [2 volumes]: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 67. ISBN 978-1-61069-391-2.
  16. ^ For another referenced translation, visible online, see: Frye, Richard Nelson (1984). The History of Ancient Iran. C.H.Beck. p. 371. ISBN 978-3-406-09397-5.
  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. ^ Tandon 2012, p. 37-38.
  38. ^ Tandon 2012, p. 45.
  39. ^ Tandon 2012, p. 38-40.
  40. ^ Tandon 2020, p. 5-6.
  41. ^ Tandon 2020, p. 6-7.

Bibliography