JIHOṆIKA, a ruler in northwestern India known to us from his coins and an inscription. On the obverse of his bilingual coins, his name is written in corrupt Greek legend as Zeiōnisēs. On the reverse, written in clear Kharoshthi letters he appears as the satrap of Chukhsa and son of the satrap Maṇigula. The inscription engraved on a silver vase found by John Marshall at Sirkap (Taxila, Pakistan) in 1926/7 and published by S. Konow (1929, p. 82) also qualifies him as Jihoṇika the Kshatrapa of Chukhsa, the son of Maṇigula, the brother of the Great King. Though both epigraphic and numismatic evidence points to his paternal ancestry, historians have different views regarding his dynastic affiliation. Though he was considered in the past as a satrap of the Kushans, Indo-Parthians, or Indo-Scythians (qq.v.), he may most probably belong to the clan of Kshaharatas. The Chukhsa satrapy is also known through the Taxila copper scroll of Patika, where Patika’s father Liaka Kusuluko is referred as the Kshaharata satrap of Chukhsa. Jihoṇika seems to have succeeded Patika in Chukhsa.

Although, the Taxila silver vase inscription refers to him as the satrap of Chukhsa, scholars are not unanimous when designating the precise location of the area in question. Jihoṇika’s coins are not attested in the major discoveries made in the Paropamisadae (Kabul-Begram), and very few are found in the Punjab (Peshawar and Taxila). On the contrary, most of his coins are reported from Kashmir and the eastern part of Hazara. Furthermore, designs of his copper coins are closely linked with those of Azes II depicting bull and lion usually found in the Jammu-Kashmir area. Likewise, there are many reasons today to place Jihoṇika’s kingdom in Kashmir, but not in Taxila or Pushkalavati (Peshawar) as believed by many historians in the past.

The precise chronology of Jihoṇika’s reign is also controversial. Unfortunately, the epigraphic evidence is not of much use in this respect. The inscription engraved on the neck of the silver vase from Taxila bears a numeral 191. This was interpreted as a date in the so-called Old Saka era, the base year of which was proposed to be 155 B.C.E. Thus the reign of Jihoṇika was placed around 36 C.E. This date would tally with the chronological frame established for Jihoṇika on numismatic evidence (see below). But the problem remains far from being solved. J. Cribb (1999, pp. 196-97), followed by R. C. Senior (2001, pp. 96), categorically refuses to accept this numeral as a date, and they argue that it represents the weight of the vase. Richard Salomon (2005, pp. 374-75) does not exclude this possibility; however, he more cautiously acknowledges that this hypothesis cannot be tested until the weight of the silver vase is determined. Even if the numeral 191 represents a date, it is impossible to relate it to an era that would be accepted by all the scholars.

The numismatic evidence, on the other hand, is of some use in fixing a relative chronology for Jihoṇika. The round copper coins of the bull and lion type of Jihoṇika seem to have been the model for Kujula Kara Kadphises’ bull and Bactrian camel coins (MacDowall, 1973, pp. 225-29). Kujula copied not only the denominations and the obverse type of the bull, but the corrupt and misunderstood Greek legend of Jihoṇika. He was certainly a contemporary of the first Indo-Parthian Gondophares (q.v.). The chronology of Gondophares in relation to Jihoṇika is revealed by a series of overstrikes by the latter over the former and the former over the latter. In short, according to the numismatic sequence, the reign of Gondophares should be dated ca. 20-46 C.E. and that of Kujula Kadphises ca. 30-80 C.E. Likewise, once the reign of Kujula Kadphises in relation to Gondophares is well established, the reign of Jihoṇika can be placed between 20 and 40 C.E. (Bopearachchi, pp. 137-39).



O. Bopearachchi, “Recent Coin Hoard Evidence on Pre-Kushana Chronology,” in Coins, Art, and Chronology. Essays on the pre-Islamic History of the Indo-Iranian Borderlands, ed. M. Alram and D. E. Klimburg-Salter, Vienna, 1999, pp. 99-149.

J. Cribb, “The Early Kushan Kings: New Evidence for Chronology. Evidence from the Rabatak Inscription of Kanishka I,” in Coins, Art, and Chronology. Essays on the pre-Islamic History of the Indo-Iranian Borderlands, ed. M. Alram and D. E. Klimburg-Salter, Vienna, 1999, pp. 177-205.

S. Konow, Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, vol. II, Part I, Kharoshthi Inscriptions with the Exception of those of Aśoka, Calcutta, 1929.

D.W. Mac Dowall, “The Azes Hoard from Shaikhan-Dheri: Fresh Evidence for the Context of Jihonika,” in South Asian Archaeology, ed. N. Hammond, London, 1973, pp. 215-30.

R. Salomon, “The Indo-Greek Era of 186/5 B.C. in a Buddhist Reliquary Inscription,” in Afghanistan. Ancien carrefour entre l’Est et l’Ouest, ed. O. Bopearachchi and M.-F. Boussac, Turnhout, 2005, pp. 359-401.

Idem, Ancient Buddhist Scrolls from Gandhāra. The British Library Kharosṭhī Fragments, Seattle, 1999, pp. 141-45 (“The Jihonika Fragment”).

R. C. Senior, Indo-Scythian Coins and History, London, 2001.

(O. Bopearachchi)

Originally Published: December 15, 2008

Last Updated: April 17, 2012

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Vol. XIV, Fasc. 6, p. 645