Kujula Kadphises

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Kujula Kadphises
Kushan emperor
Kudjula Kadphises.jpg
Coin of Kujula Kadphises.
Reign 30 CE - 80 CE
Predecessor Heraios
Successor Vima Takto

Kujula Kadphises (Kushan language: Κοζουλου Καδφιζου, also Κοζολα Καδαφες; Kharoṣṭhī: Kujula Kasasa; Ancient Chinese: 丘就卻, Qiujiuque; reigned 30–80 CE) was a Kushan prince who united the Yuezhi confederation during the 1st century CE, and became the first Kushan emperor. According to the Rabatak inscription, he was the great grandfather of the great Kushan king Kanishka I.


The origins of Kujula Kadphises are quite obscure, and it is usually considered he was a descendant of the Kushan ruler Heraios, or even identical with him.[1] Interestingly however, Kujula shares his name (Kushan: Κοζουλου on some of his "Hermaeus" coins, or Κοζολα on his "Augustus" coins) with some of the last Indo-Scythian rulers, such as Liaka Kusulaka (Greek: Λιακα Κοζουλο), or his son Patika Kusulaka, which might suggest some family connection.[2]

Chinese accounts[edit]

Tetradrachm of Kujula Kadphises (30-80 CE) in the style of Hermaeus.
Obv: Hermaios-style diademed bust. Corrupted Greek legend: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΣΤΗΡΟΣΣΥ ΕΡΜΑΙΟΥ ("Basileos Stirossu Ermaiou"): "King Hermaeus, the Saviour".
Rev: Herakles standing with club and lion skin. Kharoṣṭhī legend: KUJULA KASASA KUSHANA YAVUGASA DHARMATHIDASA "Kujula Kadphises ruler of the Kushans, steadfast in the Law ("Dharma"). British Museum.

The rise of Kujula Kadphises is described in the Chinese historical chronicle, the Hou Hanshu:

More than a hundred years later, the prince [xihou] of Guishuang, named Qiujiuque [Kujula Kadphises], attacked and exterminated the four other xihou. He established himself as king, and his dynasty was called that of the Guishuang [Kushan] King. He invaded Anxi [Indo-Parthia], and took the Gaofu [Kabul] region. He also defeated the whole of the kingdoms of Puda [Paktiya] and Jibin [Kapisha and Gandhara]. Qiujiuque [Kujula Kadphises] was more than eighty years old when he died.[3]

In the process of their expansion eastward, Kujula Kadphises and his son Vima Takto seem to have displaced the Indo-Parthian kingdom, established in northwestern India by the Parthian Gondophares since around 20CE:

His son, Yangaozhen [probably Vema Tahk(tu) or, possibly, his brother Sadaṣkaṇa], became king in his place. He defeated Tianzhu [North-western India] and installed Generals to supervise and lead it. The Yuezhi then became extremely rich. All the kingdoms call [their king] the Guishuang [Kushan] king, but the Han call them by their original name, Da Yuezhi.[4]

This invasion of Kujula Kadphises is thought to have occurred during the reign of Abdagases and Sases, the successors of Gondophares, after 45 CE.

Genealogy according to the Rabatak inscription[edit]

The connection of Kujula with other Kushan rulers is described in the Rabatak inscription, discovered in Rbatak, Afghanistan some years ago, which was written by Kanishka. Kanishka makes the list of the kings who ruled up to his time: Kujula Kadphises as his great-grandfather, Vima Taktu as his grandfather, Vima Kadphises as his father, and himself Kanishka:

And he [Kanishka] gave orders to make images of the same, (namely) of these gods who are written herein, and he gave orders to make (them) for these kings: for King Kujula Kadphises (his) great grandfather, and for King Vima Taktu (his) grandfather, and for King Vima Kadphises (his) father, and for himself, King Kanishka.[5]


Most of Kujula's coins were Hellenic or Roman in inspiration. Some coins used the portrait, name and title of the Indo-Greek king Hermaeus on the obverse, indicating Kujula's wish to relate himself to the Indo-Greek king. Since the Kushans and their predecessors the Yuezhi were conversant with the Greek language and Greek coinage, the adoption of Hermaeus cannot have been accidental: it either expressed a filiation of Kujula Kadphises to Hermaeus by alliance (possibly through Sapadbizes or Heraios), or simply a wish to show himself as heir to the Indo-Greek tradition and prestige, possibly to accommodate Greek populations. These coins bear the name of Kujula Kadphises in Kharoṣṭhī, with representations of the Greek demi-god Heracles on the back, and titles ("Yavugasa") presenting Kujula as a "ruler" (not actual king), and a probable Buddhist ("Dharmathidasa", follower of the Dharma). Later coins, possibly posthumous, did describe Kujula as "Maharajasa", or "Great King".

Greek script[edit]

Silver denarius of Tiberius (14-37 CE) found in India. Indian copy of the same, 1st century CE. Coin of Kushan king Kujula Kadphises copying a coin of Augustus.

The Greek script on the coins of Kujula (and all the Kushans with him) is barbarized. For example, ΣΤΗΡΟΣΣΥ on his Hermaeus coins is thought to be a deformation of ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ (Sotiros), the traditional title of Hermaeus on his coins. The Greek word for "king" is written ΒΑϹΙΛΕΩΣ, with both a lunate sigma (Ϲ) and a normal sigma (Σ) in the same word.

The Kushans also added one character to the Greek script: it is the letter Ϸ, corresponding to the sound "Sh", as in "Kushan".

Buddha coins[edit]

Kujula seated cross legged facing, Kharoshti legend: Kuyula Kadaphasa Kushanasa. Zeus on the reverse, Greek legend: KOZOΛA XOPANOY ZAOOY.

Some coins of Kujula also represent a cross-legged seated figure, said to be one of the first known representations of the Buddha on a coin (Whitehead). Unfortunately, Whitehead's attribution of this coin to Kujula, and the claim that the seated figure on the obverse represents the Buddha, is now known to be incorrect. The correct attribution of this coin is to the Kushan king Huvishka, who was Kujula's great-great-grandson. The obverse shows Huvishka seated on a couch. The first known coins carrying a representation of the Buddha were issued by Kujula's Great-grandson (and Huvishka's father) Kanishka I.

Roman-style coins[edit]

Coin of Kujula Kadphises, in the style of the Roman emperor Augustus. Legend in Kushan language, corrupted Greek script: ΚΟΖΟΛΑ ΚΑΔΑΦΕΣ ΧΟϷΑΝΟΥ ΖΑΟΟΥ ("Kozola Kadaphes Koshanou Zaoou"): "Kudjula Kadphises, ruler of the Kushans". British Museum.

Some fewer coins of Kujula Kadphises also adopted a Roman style, with effigies closely resembling Caesar Augustus, although all the legends were then associated with Kujula himself. Such influences are linked to exchanges with the Roman Empire around that date.


  1. ^ Cribb, J. (1993), The Heraus coins: their attribution to the Kushan king Kujula Kadphises, c. AD 30-80. Essays in Honour of Robert Carson and Kenneth Jenkins, (edited by M. Price, A. Burnett, and R. Bland), London, 107-134.
  2. ^ Rapson, "Indian coins of the British Museum", p.cvi
  3. ^ Hill (2009), p. 29.
  4. ^ Hill (2009), p. 29.
  5. ^ Sims-Williams' "provisional translation" quoted in Hill (2009), p. 592.


  • "Catalogue of coins in the Panjab Museum, Lahore. Vol. I Indo-Greek coins", Whitehead, Argonaut Inc. Publishers, Chicago.
  • Chavannes, Édouard (1907). Les pay d'occident d'après le Heou Han chou. T’oung pao 8. pp. 149-244. 
  • Hill, John E. 2004. The Western Regions according to the Hou Hanshu. Draft annotated English translation.[1]
  • Hill, John E. (2009). Through the Jade Gate to Rome: A Study of the Silk Routes during the Later Han Dynasty, First to Second Centuries CE. BookSurge. ISBN 978-1-4392-2134-1. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by:

(In Gandhara and Punjab:)
Indo-Parthian king
Kushan Ruler
(30-80 CE)
Succeeded by:

Vima Takto