Larin: The Currency of the Seas
For all of us coins have mostly, always been round. But did you know that one of the most unique currencies, ever used in India was the larin, which was shaped like a hairpin or a fishhook. What’s more this was not just the currency of a small kingdom or region. Named after a small town in Iran, till the 18th century CE the larin was the currency of trade between countries across the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean. It was truly the currency of the seas.
Since the discovery of the sea route to India, from the Red Sea by a Greek navigator named Hippalus around the 1st century BCE, the Arabian Sea and the Indian ocean acted as the major corridor connecting Arabia, Persia, and East Africa with India and South East Asia. In India, the trade was carried out from the west coast and the subcontinent was the major supplier of spices, cloth, precious stones and metals. Arab merchants carried off Indian wares and returned with ivory, beads, copper and gold from Africa. By the 14th and 15th century CE, the trade was dominated by Arab traders who had the knowledge of the monsoon winds and used it to their advantage.