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Indo-Scythian king
Maues on horse detail.jpg
Maues riding in armour. Like many other Indo-Scythians, Maues did not issue portraits.
Reignc. 85 – 60 BCE
Silver tetradrachm of Maues. The obverse shows Zeus standing with a sceptre. The Greek legend reads ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΝ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΜΑΥΟΥ (Οf the Great King of Kings Maues). The reverse shows Nike standing, holding a wreath. Kharoshthi legend. Taxila mint.

Maues (Greek: Μαύης; epigraphically ΜΑΥΟΥ Mauou; r. 85–60 BCE) was the first recorded Indo-Scythian king. He invaded India and established Saka hegemony by conquering Indo-Greek territories.[1]


The Sakas or Scythians, were nomadic Eastern Iranian people.

Sanskrit texts including the Manusmriti (X,44), Ramayana and Mahabharata mention the Sakas.[2] The Mahabharata (II.32.17) situated the Sakas along with the Pahlavas (Parthians) and Yona (Ionians) in the north-west.

The Sakas from Sakastan defeated and killed the Parthian king Phraates II in 126 B.C. Indo-Scythians established themselves in the Indus around 88 B.C., during the end of Mithridates II of Parthias reign. The Sakas and Pahlavas became closely associated during the Saka migration. This can be demonstrated from various sources, such as the adoption of names and titles. Maues took the title of "Great King of Kings", an exceeded version of a traditional Persian royal title.

Maues Campaigns

Maues is the first recorded ruler of the Sakas in the Indus. He is first mentioned in the Moga inscription:

"In the seventy eighth, 78, year the Great King, the Great Moga, on the fifth, 5, day of the month Panemos, on this first, of the Kshaharata and Kshatrapa of Chukhsa - Liaka Kusuluka by name - his son Patika - in the town of Takshasila..." [3]

Mauses is possibly mentioned the Maira inscription in the Salt Range in Pakistan as 'Moasa'.[4]

Maues vastly expanded his domain by conquering key cities along the Indus. This included seizing Taxila in Punjab, and Gandharas capital city Pushkalavati from the Indo-Greek Kingdoms.[5] Maues has overstruck coins belonging to Archebius as well as Apollodotus II in Taxila.

The Sakas extend their power up to Mathura during his reign.[6]

Route of the Invasions

When precisely and under what circumstances Maues arrived in India is uncertain, but the expulsion of the Scythian (Saka/Sai) peoples from Central Asia is referred to in the Han Shu, where the cause given is their confrontation with the Ta Yüeh-chih, themselves undergoing an enforced migration. It is stated that “when the Ta Yüeh-chih turned west, defeated and expelled the king of the Sai, the latter moved south and crossed over the Suspended Crossing.” That this route (from the Pamirs into the Gilgit valley) was used in Maues’ time is confirmed by the discovery of inscriptions in the Chilas/Gilgit area bearing his name (Dani, 1983 and 1995, pp. 52, 55).[7]


Coin of Maues depicting Balarama, 1st century BCE. British Museum.

Coin of Machene, Queen of Maues. Obv. Tyche, wearing mural crown. Legend BACIΛICCHC ΘEOTPOΠOY MAXHNHC "Godlike Queen Machene". Rev. Zeus with Nike, legend “Rajatirajasa mahatasa Moasa” in Kharoshthi "Great king of kings, Maues".

Maues issued joint coins mentioning a queen Machene ("ΜΑΧΗΝΗ"). Machene may have been a daughter of one of the Indo-Greek houses.[8]

An Indo-Greek king, Artemidoros, also issued coins where he describes himself as "Son of Maues".

Buddhist Coins

Indian-standard coin of King Maues. The obverse shows a rejoicing elephant holding a wreath, symbol of victory. The Greek legend reads ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΝ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΜΑΥΟΥ (Great King of Kings Maues). The reverse shows the seated king Maues. Kharoshthi legend: RAJATIRAJASA MAHATASA MOASA (Great King of Kings Maues).
A bronze coin of a half-obo of Maues (ca 125-85 BC) issued in Swat (Chach, Pakistan). Obv: Zeus on a throne of face with the hand on a small Sol radiating. Legend: ΙΛΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΙΛΣΙΛΕΩΜ ΓΑΛΟΥΕΜΑΥ ΜΑΥ (ΟΥ) Rev: Goddess in front with a spear. Monogram on the left. Legend: Rajadirajasa Mahatasa Moasa (Rajadhiraja Maharaja Mohasya). Dimension: 22.84 x 22.52 mm Weight: 9.8 g.
Coin of King Maues. The obverse shows Herakles with a club resting on his arm, the protector deity of Demetrius. The Greek legend reads ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΝ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΜΑΥΟΥ ((of the) Great King of Kings Maues). The reverse shows a Buddhist lion. Kharoshthi legend.

A few of the coins of Maues, struck according to the Indian square standard, seemingly depict a King in a cross-legged seated position. This may represent Maues himself, or possibly one of his divinities. It has been suggested that this might also be one of the first representations of the Buddha on a coin, in an area where Buddhism was flourishing at the time, but the seated personage seems to hold a sword horizontally, which favors the hypotheses of the depiction of the king Maues himself.

Also, Maues struck some coins incorporating Buddhist symbolism, such as the lion, symbol of Buddhism since the time of the Mauryan king Ashoka.

The symbolism of the lion had also been adopted by the Buddhist Indo-Greek king Menander II. Maues therefore probably supported Buddhism, although whether sincerely or for political motives is unclear. His coins also included a variety of other religious symbols such as the bull of Shiva, indicating wide religious tolerance.

Other Coins

See also


  1. ^ The Grandeur of Gandhara, Rafi-us Samad, Algora Publishing, 2011, p.64-67 [1]
  2. ^ Sagar, Krishna Chandra (1992). Foreign Influence on Ancient India. Northern Book Centre. ISBN 9788172110284.
  3. ^ Moga inscription
  4. ^ Dani, A. H.; Staff, UNESCO; Asimov, M. S.; Litvinsky, B. A.; Zhang, Guang-da; Samghabadi, R. Shabani; Bosworth, C. E.; Unesco (1994-01-01). History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The Development of Sedentary and Nomadic Civilizations, 700 B. C. to A. UNESCO. ISBN 9789231028465.
  5. ^ Sagar, Krishna Chandra (1992). Foreign Influence on Ancient India. Northern Book Centre. ISBN 9788172110284.
  6. ^ Sagar, Krishna Chandra (1992). Foreign Influence on Ancient India. Northern Book Centre. ISBN 9788172110284.
  7. ^ "INDO-SCYTHIAN DYNASTY – Encyclopaedia Iranica". Retrieved 2019-07-23.
  8. ^ RC Senior "Indo-Scythian coins and history", Vol IV, p.xxxvi.


  • "The Shape of Ancient Thought. Comparative studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies" by Thomas McEvilley (Allworth Press and the School of Visual Arts, 2002) ISBN 1-58115-203-5
  • "The Greeks in Bactria and India", W.W. Tarn, Cambridge University Press.
  • "The Crossroads of Asia. Transformation in image and symbol" ISBN 0-9518399-1-8

External links

Preceded by
(In Arachosia, Gandhara and Punjab)
Indo-Greek King

(In Paropamisade)
Indo-Greek King
Indo-Scythian Ruler
(85–60 BCE)
Succeeded by
(In Gandhara)
Indo-Greek king:

(In Punjab)
Indo-Greek king:
Apollodotus II

(In the south)
Indo-Scythian ruler: