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Coming from the region of Lar in Persia, the larin was a fine silver currency shaped as a bent ingot that circulated in large amounts in the Persian Gulf, Arabic Sea and South Asia regions during the 16th and 17th centuries.



Filipe I

Late 16th-century


Did you know that…

By the end of the 16th century, the silver larin was an essential currency in the acquisition of Indian pepper?

When Vasco da Gama petitioned for an audience with the Samutiri (Zamorin) of Calicut, in 1498, the Portuguese knew essentially nothing about how Oriental societies and economies were organised and functioned. Their ignorance was such that the gifts presented by the Portuguese – textiles, coral, sugar, olive oil, and honey – were regarded as unworthy of the poorest of the Arab and Indian merchants.

The newcomers quickly realised that that they had to adapt to the local realities and that they would have to start making use of the international monetary instruments in place. Among these was the larin, the fundamental means of payment in the spice trade.

The larin was a coin of fine silver in the form of a thin, folded, elongated ingot that circulated widely in the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, and South Asia between the 16th and 17th centuries. Its origin is generally attributed to the Persian region of Lar, from which the coin’s name is derived. Later, centres of production arose in Ormuz, India, the Maldives, and Ceylon, and larins circulated as far as the Western Pacific.

Among the Portuguese the silver larins were also known as tangas and tangas larins. In Goa, in the late 16th century, larins were the object of highly profitable seasonal exchange operations exploiting fluctuations in the demand and supply of coin and the coming and going of trading fleets to the East and West.

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