The Sakyong Re-introduces the Ratna and Introduces the Lineage Medallion
by Solomon Halpern, Ladrang Councillor
photos by Marv Ross
The Sakyong Jampal Trinley Dradul, Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche, has reintroduced Shambhala’s currency, the ratna, with the minting of the 2012 gold and silver ratna coins. Consideration had been given to the subject of re-minting ratna coins at various times over the years, as Shambhalians asked for them to be produced, however the conditions for a minting to occur never fully ripened until now.
As background, ratna coins were first minted under the guidance of the first Sakyong, Sakyong Dorje Dradul, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, in 1983. These coins were minted in fine silver and 22 karat gold, in one ounce and 1/10 ounce size respectively. Sakyong Dorje Dradul’s shave-headed profile is embossed on the obverse of the 1983 coins. His profile is encircled by the text “Profound, Brilliant, Just, Powerful, All-Victorious”, which are the traditional qualities of a Sakyong. The reverse of the coin features the scorpion seal of the Sakyongs over sun-rays. The reverse also has “Ratna” in both English and Tibetan text written on it. Interestingly, the numinous aspects of these coins were their lack of a date and feature of a reeded edge.
The second minting of ratna coins occurred in 1991. At this time, only half-ounce fine gold (24 karat) coins were produced. These coins featured a younger Sakyong Dorje Dradul with a full head of hair on the obverse of the coin, along with the qualities of a Sakyong. On the reverse is the scorpion seal and seven peony flowers along with “Ratna” in English and Tibetan, as well as the year. These coins also had a reeded edge.
The artwork for both the 1983 and 1991 ratna coins was created by sculptor Joshua Mulder, from photographs by Blair Hansen.
The new ratna coins are the product of a little under two years of work coming to fruition. They are a melding of past and present. They are a cultural and artistic bridge for the lineage of Sakyongs and artistry of Shambhala. Observers looking at a set of all the ratna coins that have been produced will see the clear cultural threads connecting past and present.
The new fine gold (.999 pure) and fine silver ratna coins are both minted in one-ounce size and are appropriately viewed as bullion coins. The coins feature the current Sakyong Jampal Trinley Dradul’s embossed profile on the obverse of the coin encircled by the qualities of a Sakyong as well as the year, 2012. The reverse of the coin is exactly the same as the reverse on the original, 1983 ratna coins. In fact, for the new silver ratna coins, the very same die was used to press the 1983 and 2012 coins. The artwork of the Sakyong’s profile was again performed by Joshua Mulder, this time from a photograph by Christoph Schoenherr.
In addition to being religious and artistic additions to Shambhala culture, Ratnas foreshadow a future possibility – creating an economy that embodies the principles of Shambhala. It is exciting to imagine a community where ratnas are the currency in use, reflecting not just a value exchange based on a precious metal, but also based on the basic goodness that is inherent in humans and society.
The ratna coins were consecrated at the Kalapa Court in Boulder as part of a day-long puja, feast, and lhasang ceremony. When Sakyong Jampal Trinley Dradul purified and blessed the ratna coins he made aspirations for the health, well-being, and enrichment of Shambhala.
At this same ceremony the Sakyong lineage medallions were also consecrated. For the first time ever in our community’s history gold and silver lineage medallions have been produced for the warriors of Shambhala to wear over their hearts. Each medallion has a relief of the Sakyong Dorje Dradul on one side and the Sakyong Jampal Trinley Dradul on the other. Both reliefs have the qualities of a Sakyong surrounding them.
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May the lineage of Sakyong’s and Shambhala flourish and continue to create a culture of kindness and strength.