|20 chhertum / chetrums|
|Measurements and composition|
Vishvavajra, state title, value
|v · d · e|
The 20 chhertum or 20 chetrum coin is a former circulating commemorative piece of the Kingdom of Bhutan. It, along with a similar non-circulating 15 ngultrum piece, was issued by the Royal Government of Bhutan in 1974 to celebrate the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an agency of the United Nations (UN) tasked with combating world hunger. Introduced during the earlier reign of Druk Gyalpo (King) Jigme Singye Wangchuck (1955–; r. 1972–2006), the 20 chhertum piece was struck under contract at the facilities of the India Government Mint.
The 20 chhertum coin currently holds legal tender status in its country of origin, carrying a face value of 0.20 ngultrum. Despite this, it no longer circulates frequently due to its low purchasing power and the Bhutanese public's disinterest in using coins. Also, according to numismatic author Nicholas Rhodes (1946–2011), very few 20 chhertum pieces actually entered circulation due to larger quantities being "ordered by outside agencies and marketed internationally".
The piece is composed of an aluminum-bronze alloy and measures 4.5 grams in mass, 22 millimeters in diameter, and 1.9 millimeters in thickness. It has medallic alignment; raised, undecorated rims; and a reeded edge, and like most coins, is round in shape.
An illustration of a Bhutanese man cultivating rice, Bhutan's primary staple crop, is displayed in the middle of the coin's obverse. In it the man, clothed in traditional Bhutanese attire and hunched over to the right, is shown tending to the rice with a long handled farming tool. The Dzongkha legend "ཀུན་ལ་བཟའ་བཏུང་" (Wylie: kun la bza' btung) is inscribed next to the image, extending clockwise along the coin's left periphery, while its English equivalent, "FOOD FOR ALL", is engraved in the same direction along the piece's right boundary. Printed counterclockwise along the coin's lower rim, below the man's feet in the illustration, is the Gregorian date of minting, "1974", which is separated from the Dzongkha and English legends by two ears of rice, one at each side.
Featured in the middle of the reverse is a vishvavajra, a symbol often associated with Vajrayana Buddhism, the state religion of Bhutan. Consisting of two crossing vajras (dorjes), the vishvavajra also appears on the Bhutanese state emblem, and in context represents harmony between secular and religious power. On the coin, the Dzongkha word "འབྲུག" (Wylie: 'brug) is inscribed to the upper left of the vishvavajra, arched in a clockwise direction along the rim. Such a word, which translates as "dragon" in Dzongkha and Tibetan, makes up the first part of the local name of Bhutan, "འབྲུག་ཡུལ" (Wylie: 'brug yul), meaning "Land of the Dragon". The Dzongkha word is accompanied on the reverse by its English equivalent, "BHUTAN", which is inscribed in the same direction to the upper right of the vishvavajra. Written horizontally in large print at the bottom of the piece, below the Buddhist symbol in the center, is the numeral "20". The word "CHETRUMS", an alternate spelling of "chhertum", is engraved counterclockwise to the left of the number, while its Dzongkha equivalent, "ཕྱེད་ཀྲམ" (Wylie: phyed kram), is inscribed in the same direction to the right.
A total of approximately 1,195,000 examples of the coin were struck during its single year of production, including 1,194,000 pieces with a standard finish, an undisclosed quantity with a prooflike finish, and 1,000 proofs. The Royal Government of Bhutan distributed all of the prooflike coins in mint sets and all of the proofs in proof sets.
- Numismatic Guaranty Corporation – Bhutan - 20 Chetrums, KM# 39 (1974)
- Colnect – 20 Chhertums (F.A.O. - 1974)
- Numista – 20 Chetrums - Jigme Singye (FAO - 1974) (English) (French)
- Bhutan Observer – "Origins of Bhutanese coinage" (5 December 2008) • "Where do Bhutanese coins jingle?" (20 March 2009)
- Center for Bhutan Studies & GNH Research – Coinage in Bhutan
- Bhutanese ngultrum on the English Wikipedia