as-Sikka السكة
The Online Journal of The Islamic Coins Group 
as-Sikka is a peer reviewed publication
ISSN 1496-4414 

Fall 1999 AD / 1420AH Vol. 1.1


In this Issue:

Opening Notes, were do we go from here!?
The Birth of Islamic Coinage,The Orthodox and Umayyad Caliphate, by Sameer Kazmi.
Akche Coin Design, excerpt from: AKCHES (Volume One), by Slobodan Sreckovic
Ottoman Coinage, (From Foundation to the Principality), by Slobodan Sreckovic
Ottoman Coins Minted In Cyprus
, Part 1: Akches,
by Dr. Gyula Petrányi.
An Examination of Yarkand Khanate Coinage,  by Tao Zhifang, translated by Alexander Akin
Gallery, a few relevant coins from the editor's collection.


Opening Notes

By Fawzan Barrage

Were do we go from here
I must have been in a state of temporary insanity when I came up with the idea of building both a website and a newsletter for our group. Three months later, and with the gracious help of a few  members who have contributed articles to this first newsletter, we finally pulled it off!

My goal in all of this is admittedly an ambitious one. It is to build a world-wide community of scholars, students and collectors of  Islamic coins with state-of-the-art means for exchanging ideas, news and opinions in a manner that has never been done before. I envision this as an on-line continuous convention that will benefit the field of Islamic Numismatics by providing a venue for world-wide interaction and collaboration.

I am going to try and publish this newsletter quarterly, but I need your help to do that. Besides articles and book reviews, the newsletter could use a few exposés about different dynasties and coinage types. If I get enough submissions, I would also like to start a regular column that would feature coins that are of significance for either numismatic or historical reasons. The gallery of coins is also open to all contributions, but the scans have to be very good and with either a white or black background to maintain continuity. If any of the senior members would like to contribute a regular column, I would be more than happy to accommodate that as well.

Of course, I am not expecting major studies to appear here yet...not yet. We will have to earn that right. Time (and our effort in making this a quality publication) will tell if we can attract that kind of scholarly work. I am hoping that the accessibility of this web-based newsletter, as well as the quality of print (we are in color, after all), not to mention the caliber of your articles, will eventually put us on the map of major Numismatic publications.

All this is going to take persistence and hard work and, as I said earlier, I cannot do it without you. This is partly my work, but mostly your forum! So please help me build up this place by being pro-active members. First, we need to increase our membership. Please tell everyone about us: If you have a website, link to our new homepage; if you sell items at auctions, you can insert our address into your coin descriptions very easily; and if you publish lists or mailings, you can make a note about us there too! Second, we all have varied areas of interest in this field. If each of us were to do an exposé of his/her area of collection or study, we would have a wealth of information and articles to publish. And last, but not least, come up with creative ways for us to make this venue a center for study and entertainment.

Best Regards,


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The Birth of Islamic Coinage

By Sameer Kazmi,
© 1999 H. R. Kazmi  All Rights Reserved

The Orthodox and Umayyad Caliphate
At the advent of Islam, Arabia for the most part had a very limited numismatic history of its own. The past local coinage seems to be limited to that of the Sabaeans, the Himyarites, the Nabataens, and Rome's Provencia Arabia.  However, by Muhammad's birth, these were already centuries old.

It is generally agreed that in the 7th century CE, Arabia was mostly still a trade-barter society. What little need the local populace had of coinage was sufficiently fulfilled by the then current coinage of the Byzantine and Sassanian Empires.

Even after establishing the first Islamic state in CE 622, the Muslims did not institute a coinage of their own. This remained true for Arabia through the end of the Orthodox Caliphate and the early part of the Umayyad rule.

As the Arabs spread out and conquered the surrounding lands, all that they really brought with them was the message of Islam. In most cases, the local political and economic infrastructure was left intact. As long as the non-Muslims of the conquered lands paid a Poll-Tax, not much had to be changed.

The conquered lands of the Byzantine and Sassanian realms had a rich numismatic history, however, and the use of officially minted coinage had an important place in commerce. To maintain the economic viability, the Arabs continued the previously existing minting operations there - issuing coins from captured Byzantine and Sassanian dies, and then slowly adding new elements to the replacement dies. The first changes were subtle; adding "tayyib" (good) in the recently evolved Kufic script on Byzantine style copper coinage, or short and simple religious statements such as "Bismillah" (with the Name of Allah) on the margins of Sassanian coinage.

These changes further evolved as the mint names were duplicated in Arabic in the western lands and the governors added their name on coins in the east. Islamic coinage evolving from these styles are today called Arab-Byzantine or Arab-Sassanian coins, based on the originally borrowed style.

Examples of these early coins can be seen in:

- Fig. 1 Arab-Byzantine coin adding "Hims" as the Arabic name for
            Emesa (obv.) and "tayyib" (good) (rev.).
- Fig. 2 Arab-Byzantine coin from Tiberias, "Tabariyya" written  in
- Fig. 4 Arab-Sassanian coin citing governor 'Ubaydullah b. Ziyad,     
            minted in Basrah, AH 60, with "Bismillah" in the obverse

These types continued to evolve with additional religious slogans and Kufic inscription on both types of coins until the time of Umayyad Caliph 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan.

Around AH 70 (CE 690) a dispute arose when the Byzantines refused to accept Egyptian papyrus bearing Islamic slogans on the "mark of authenticity" supplied by the Arabs. 'Abd al-Malik retaliated by issuing the first Islamic gold coins replacing the cross with a bar/pole, sometimes with the angles of the cross turned into a circle, and adding the "Kalima" - Islamic declaration of Faith.

This resulted in a back-and-forth of "threatening" coin types including the type where the Caliph is portrayed in a defiant stance with his hand on a sword (fig. 3).

By the year AH 74, prototypes were being struck at a few mints to define Islam's own coinage. However, most were still based on the earlier types with changes in the iconography and inscriptions. Probably, the most interesting of these "test" coins are the experimental silver pieces minted in the east where the Sassanian "Fire Altar" on the reverse was replaced by "Caliph in Worship" or "Three Standing Worshippers".

At the same time non-pictoral, purely inscription types were also being designed and considered. It is commonly believed that 'Abd al-Malik preferred the inscriptional type to the iconographic types on a recommendation from al-Hajjaj b. Yusuf. However, some Muslim scholars disagree, instead crediting Muhammad al-Baqir b. 'Ali b. al-Hussayn - a great-great-grandson of The Prophet with influencing the change.

In AH 77, 'Abd al-Malik introduced his monetary reforms by issuing gold dinars with the Kalima with "The Mission Statement" (adapted from al-Qur'an IX:33) on the obverse and al-Ikhlas (al-Qur'an CXII) with the year of mintage on the reverse.

It is not clear exactly when, but by AH 79 silver dirhams were added for mass production. Similar to the the dinars, these had the Kalima on the obverse and al-Ikhlas on the reverse. The mission statement, however, was now placed on the reverse and the date, along with the added mint name, was moved to the obverse.

-  Fig. 5 depicts a silver dirham struck at Wasit in Ah 126.

A reform type copper coinage was also introduced, presumably between AH 74 & AH 79. However, the design was not standardized, seemingly leaving it in the hands of civic authorities. Some of them continued to use various pictoral elements, and the weight was based on local needs.

To illustrate:

-  Fig. 6 is a copper fals stating "Dhuriba bi Dimashq, sanat" (Struck at                Dimashq, year...) on the obverse and continuing on the reverse
             with "Sitt wa 'Asherin wa Mi'at" (six and twenty and hundred). 

-  Fig. 7 is a copper fals depicting a Jerboa and citing governor
             Marwan b. Bashir.

-  Fig. 8 is an Umayyad copper fals from Egypt weighing "18 qirats".

With limited exceptions, these coin types became the proto-type for future Islamic coinage for over 200 years and influenced some on Islamic coinage for another thousand years.

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

Fig. 4

Fig. 5

Fig. 6

Fig. 7

Fig. 8
Sameer Kazmi is the owner of Numisart Galleries, he is well versed in both Islamic Numismatics and The religion of Islam Sameer lives in New York City
The coins pictured with this article are from the collection of the author.

Careful considerations were made to select coins within the reach of most collectors.
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Akche Coin Design

By Slobodan Sreckovic,
With editorial assistance from
Tom Clarke and Kenneth MacKenzie

Excerpt from: AKCHES (Volume One)
The design of the akches is usually text contained by an encircling line (Fig. 1). An exception to the encircled text-field arrangement occurs during the reign of Mehmed Çelebi when the akche’s obverse design is in the shape of a four-petal flower (Fig. 2). The text on Mehmed Çelebi’s obverse is arranged inside the design, of which there are three varieties. The first variety shows a plain composition with no additional marks at the points where petals meet. The second shows the same composition but with dots at the meeting points (four petals, four points). The third variety replaces the dots with lines. The petal designs are contained within a pearl border at the edge of the coin.

From the first minting of akches until 875 AH almost all akches were given a dot/pearl border outside the encircling line (Fig. 3). According to some interpretations, the “pearls” on Islamic coins represent the rosary beads of the Prophet Muhammad. There are a few exceptions to the “pearl rule”. For example, there are akches in which the pearls are replaced by a second concentric line. Then, beginning in 875 AH, during the reign of Mehmed II, for a period of probably less than a year, the design consisted of three concentric circular lines enclosing the text. This design indicated that Mehmed II’s coins had been changed for the third time (which corresponded to the fact that it was the third decade of his reign). It is reasonable to conclude that the three-circle design was soon abandoned because it badly crowded the text. As for the pearls, since akches are small, it was not possible to include three lines and the pearls too (Fig. 4), so their use was discontinued. Akches minted after this, and through 885 AH, again bear only a single circle. The row of pearls around the edge was never resumed (Fig. 5).

From 885 AH until 1102 AH (the end of akche period) the coin field was plain, as in the period before 875 AH i.e., a single circle, but from now on without the pearls. An exception is during the reign of Süleyman I, when some of the mints added a second concentric circle (Fig. 6). Other late-period variations in design are:
1) a six-pointed star placed in the center of the circle on both the obverse and reverse side  
    (Fig. 7), a new design introduced during the second decade of the rule of Mehmed II.
2) the akches of Bayezid II have a single line, obverse and reverse, dividing the field of the
    akche into two parts. This copied the design of the obverse of akches minted by Bayezid I.
3) the star-in-center design on the reverse that reappeared under Süleyman I during his first 
    and second periods of rule (926-963 AH). In his third period of rule (963-974 AH), the
    star design on the reverse is replaced by a dot (Fig. 8). In this case, the dot is
    simultaneously an ornament, a marker for the exact center of akche (which enabled the die
    cutter to position the text properly), and the diacritical dot (vowel indicator) for be in the
    word duribe. This type of akche remained in use until the end of this period.

The golden age for the minting of akches was during the period of the rule of Sultan Süleyman I. The economy and culture flourished in the Empire. That in combination with liberal laws resulted in the establishment of new mints. The growing number of mints, and the accelerating tempo of changes made to the coins’ obverses and reverses, required a greater number of die cutters. This resulted in fierce competition among them, as can be seen in the varieties of akches minted at this time. This is most obvious in the period from 941 until 966 AH, after the Law on Mines and Minting was passed. One of the most remarkable akches of this period is the one minted in Amasya on the occasion of the transfer of prince Mustafa (941 AH) 1. In addition to exceptional calligraphy, the Amasya akche features a six-petal flower in the center of the both obverse and reverse sides. This akche is a masterpiece.

During the next century, the 11th century AH/17th century AD, standards and controls at the mints deteriorated rapidly and it is common to see akches with letters struck outside the coin field.

Symbols and ornaments
Although symbols must have played an important role in the mintage of Ottoman coins, their meaning has been lost over the centuries. There are symbols for which the meanings are obvious, as well as those which are so obscure that we can only guess at what they stand for. Ornaments and symbols should be interpreted only in relation to the whole series of coins of which the symbol or ornament is a part in order to hopefully understand its meaning. Their purpose may be to decorate, or to emphasize continuity of reign, or show the significance of a certain mint, or to identify the die cutter or the area in which the coin was struck, etc. The same symbol may have different meanings at different times. Thus, it is best to interpret specific ornaments and symbols only within a single reign. In this catalogue, their meanings, when known, are discussed in the introductory sections of each individual ruler.
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Our thanks to Slobodan Sreckovic for agreeing to share this excerpt with us.
The first volume of Akche has been published.
Check with Tom Clarke for more details.
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Ottoman Coinage

By Slobodan Sreckovic,
With editorial assistance from
Fawzan Barrage

(From Foundation to the Principality)

The Ghazi tribe, led by Osman and later known as the Ottomans,   appeared at the beginning of the 8th Century AH on the border between the once mighty states of Byzantium and IlKans.

Although the IlKhans were still powerful and controlled most of Anatolia, they were unable to restrain the Ghazis for long. The Ottomans quickly gained power and independence.  Osman Ghazi, the founder of the dynasty, may have even minted coins in his name,  although there is no solid evidence of that other than a mention by contemporary Ottoman historians.  After Osman’s death around 724AH , his son Orhan continued to expand his territory increasing his power and independence.

In this early period Ottoman copper coins were more freely struck and were modeled on the Byzantine coinage that circulated in the area. The silver coins, on the other hand, was modeled on traditional Islamic coinage. 

In the excavation at Bergama (Pergamon) in 1972, anonymous copper coins (mangir) were found in quantities that lead us to two conclusions:

a)   Mangirs were in use as city coinage in that area and

b)   The anonymous mintage was meant as a way to avoid angering the   

These first Ottoman mangirs, only showed  the religious title Es Sultanul Al A'zam and the quote Halledallahü Mülkehü (Fig. 1). Later coins added the ruler’s name, but as the size of the coins was reduced,  the religious title was dropped, and the quote shortened to Hullide Mülkühü.

The first Ottoman silver coins, the akches, were minted around 727 AH During Orhan’s rule and were modeled after contemporary IlKhan coins. they showed the Kalima on the obverse,  and featured, the name of the ruler and his father, as well as the name of the mint (Bursa) and the year of minting Sene Seb’a ve i[rin ve seb’amie (727) on the reverse (Fig. 2).  This was not uniformly adhered to though.  Later akches did not show the year of minting, and most omitted the mint name as well.  At the end of Orhan’s rule, the akche was reformed.   The obverse showed the Kalima, and the reverse showed the name of the ruler and his father Orhan bin Osman, the quote Halledallahü Mülkehü, as well as the religious title Es Sultanul Al A'zam (Fig. 3).

In 762 AH, Orhan’s son and the third Ottoman ruler, Murad 1st inherited a powerful state.  He continued to mint in both metals following the structure that his father had set.  The obverse on the Murad 1st first-minted akches were the same as the obverse of his father’s coins, but the reverse differed: only the name of the ruler and his father Murad bin Orhan appeared, and the shortened quote Hullide Mülkühü, but the religious title was no longer there (Fig. 4).   During Murad’s reign, the coinage (both mangir and akche) was changed every 10 years and had different symbols and letters to denote the varied mints. In total 3 different coinage over-halls were made during Murad’s reign. At the end of Murad’s rule, the akches were smaller and the inscription was thus shortened(Fig. 5). The mangirs were also smaller than before and bore only the name of the ruler and his father Murad bin Orhan, or ornaments (Fig. 6).  The only exception were the mangirs minted for the celebration in the capital on Ramadan in 790,  when Murad’s sons were married and his grandsons were circumcised(Fig. 7).

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Figure 4

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Figure 6

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Figure 7

Slobodan has written many articles on Ottoman coinage in his native Serbian for the local newsletter "Dinar". He has lately written a series of English books on Akche (see excerpt in this issue) with the help of Tom Clarke and Kenneth MacKenzie

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Ottoman Coins Minted In Cyprus

by Dr. Gyula Petrányi 
Part 1: Akches

Cyprus came under Ottoman rule in 1570AD and remained part of the Empire until 1878. Although Murad III ordered the building a mint on the island in 1579, it is not evident that he minted any coins in there. Only coins struck by Mehmed III, Ahmed I and Murad IV have so far been found with the Cyprus mint name on them. The Cyprus mint seems to have been in operation between 1595 and 1640.

Two silver denominations, the akches and a somewhat larger coin are known from the Cyprus mint. We will focus on the akche in this article and leave the other denomination for a future article.

KIBRIS, the name of the island in Turkish, is spelt with the Arabic letters QBRS (qaf-ba-ra-sin). All varieties of Akches from KIBRIS have counterparts from many other Ottoman mints and are distinguishable only by the mint name. The appearance of the mint name, therefore, is an essential element for the identification on KIBRIS struck Akches.

As usual, the KIBRIS akches have inscriptions only, in Arabic. They can be classified as either a circular type or a linear type according to the arrangement of the obverse legend. The reverse legend is always in the linear arrangement. A dot can be found in the geometrical center of the double border on both sides unless obliterated by other parts of the legend. The diameter of the outer border (dotted border) is 11 mm, and that of the line border  is 10 mm. The actual coins are around 9-11 mm in size but many coins are irregular in shape, off-center and badly struck. The average weight of the KIBRIS Akche is around 0.3 g.

The obverse legend shows the name of the ruler (X) as Sultan and the name of his dead father (Y) as Han: Sultan X bin Y Han. In the circular type the ruler's name is in the center and Sultan bin Y Han forms the circle around the name. In the linear type the legend is in three horizontal lines: Sultan / X bin / Y Han.

The reverse legend is invariably in four horizontal lines: 'azze nasruhu  / duribe /  KIBRIS  /  accession year of the ruler; that is, "may his victory be glorious, minted [in] Cyprus" and the accession year AH.

All varieties of the Cyprus akches are listed below. The sequence is in the most probable chronological order, the exact dates of the issues within the same reign are unknown. The chart helps to observe the differences. The circle represents the line border of the stamp, not the edge of the coin; this was surrounded by another border of dots. The full image is rarely visible on the actual pieces.

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1595-1603, accession year: 1003 AH
All akches are of the circular type. The two varieties are different in the positioning of the obverse legend around the name in center.

Type 1a. Obv. Circular: MEHMED in center, SULTAN BIN MURAD HAN around; legend starts below MEHMED.
               Rev. 'AZZE NASRUHU  /  DURIBE  /  KIBRIS  /  1003.

Type 1b. Obv. Circular: MEHMED in center, SULTAN BIN MURAD HAN around; legend starts above MEHMED.
               Rev. 'AZZE NASRUHU  / DURIBE  /  KIBRIS  /  1003.

1603-1617, accession year: 1012 AH
The linear obverse type is more common. The circular type have the faulty accession year 1102 and the script on the reverse is closer in style to the akches of Murad IV.

Type 1.  Obv. Linear:  SULTAN  /  AHMED BIN  /  MEHMED HAN in three lines.
              Rev. 'AZZE NASRUHU  /  DURIBE  /  KIBRIS  /  1012.

Type 2.  Obv. Circular:  AHMED in center, SULTAN BIN MEHMED HAN around; legend starts below AHMED.
              Rev. 'AZZE NASRUHU  /  DURIBE  /  KIBRIS  /  1102.

1623-1640, accession year: 1032 AH
All are of the linear type obverse legend. One coin is known with year 1033 instead of 1032.

Type 1a.Obv. Linear: SULTAN  /   MURAD BIN  /  AHMED HAN in three lines.
              Rev. 'AZZE NASRUHU  /  DURIBE  /  KIBRIS  /  1032.

Type 1b.       The same as Type 1a but with 1033.

General comments

Very few KIBRIS Akches have been published, the total number of these Akches recorded from all over the world is still under 50. Most of them are in private collections. The silver content of the these Akches is unknown, a few have silvery appearance but corroded pieces show that more debased issues also exist.

The numbers of recorded pieces suggest the following relative rarity of the varieties listed from the most common to the most rare:

a)    Mehmed III Type 1a (the commonest)
b)    Ahmed I Type 1
c)    Murad IV Type 1a
d)    Mehmed III Type 1b
e)    Ahmed I Type 2
f)     Murad IV Type 1b (one piece recorded).


Our thanks to Dr. Gyula Petrányi for sharing his insight on this interesting Ottoman/Cypriote coinage. Originally from Hungary, Dr. Petrányi is a medical doctor living and practicing in Cyprus. Along with his interest in Ottoman/Cypriote coinage his main field in numismatics is the study of the 3rd-1st c BC Greek-Illyrian silver coinage of Apollonia and Dyrrhachium. Any aspects of this topic can be discussed with the author by email at <>
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An Examination of Yarkand Khanate Coinage

by Tao Zhifang,
translated by Alexander Akin

Originally published in Xinjiang Numismatics, 1999-1, p. 19-20

(Translator's note: Though this article contains some obvious flaws, I have selected it for translation because it touches upon a class of coins which have begun to appear on the market in the past decade, but have generally lacked attribution. This article is also fairly representative of the writing found in Xinjiang Numismatics; it is my hope that it will give fellow enthusiasts some notion of what is happening in our field on the other side of the planet.)

The Yarkand Khanate was established in the mid-Ming period, 1514 CE, by the Chaghatai descendant Sa'id Khan. It is known by that name because its capital was set up at Yarkand, in southern Xinjiang. In 1678 it was wiped out by the neighboring Zhungar Khanate. During the intervening 164 years it exercised continuous control over the oases of the Tarim Basin south of the Tian Shan range, holding an important status in the Western Regions and generating substantial influence.

The History of Rashid[1] mentions several times that "Each khan of Yarkand has struck his own coinage." The foreign explorer Matteo Ricci[2] also mentions the Yarkand Khanate's use of coinage in his notes. Regrettably, however, Yarkand's coinage has yet to find real acknowledgment in the historical or numismatic fields, and it has never appeared in the listings of any catalogue. As was stated in the Report on History and Coinage of the Silk Road (Xinjiang Section) of the Chinese Numismatic Society's Silk Road Numismatic Focus Group, "As of this time nothing is known in academic circles of their situation in regard to the use of coinage...In none of the oases of the Tarim basin (including Yarkand's capital, Soche) has there ever been found even a single coin of the Yarkand Khanate. This is another mystery."

Happily, in the last few years a number of scholarly articles have touched upon this matter. For example, the preface of the album Xinjiang Numismatics states: "The Kara Khanate in the Song dynasty, the Chaghatai Khanate in the Yuan dynasty and the Yarkand Khanate in the Ming dynasty all used the striking method in the making of their coins, and they all inscribed their currencies in the Arabic alphabet."

For another example, in the second quarterly edition of the journal Xinjiang Numismatics published in 1996, an article written by Wang Lifeng et al entitled "Summary of Qing Dynasty Coinage of Xinjiang" mentions: "At the time of Qing establishment, Xinjiang north of the Tian Shan range was under the control of the Zhungar Khanate, while the region south of the Tian Shan belonged to the Yarkand Khanate. The Yarkand Khanate was established in 1514, and destroyed by the Zhungars in 1678, thus having existed for a century and a half in total. Its capital was Yarkand, today's Soche. In the mid-15th century Yarkand's economy reached its zenith, with great advancements in agriculture and crafts, an increase in population, stabilization of society and unimpeded transportation and communication. The trade of goods between regional markets was also fully developed. Coinage served as the unit and means of circulation; each region in the Khanate used a form of red bronze coinage called the pul, and fifty pul equaled one denga. The denga was silver; fifty pul were worth one liang of silver."

On page 12 of the same issue of Xinjiang Numismatics, an article by Mr. Li Xianzheng states that "Before the reunion with Zhungaria in 1678, the coinage in use was called the pul, made of red bronze and, in Central Asian fashion, minted by striking. It was commonly used all along the Southern Route [of the Silk Road] south of the Tian Shan range." At the third meeting of representatives of the Xinjiang Numismatic Society, held in October 1997, Mr. Qian Boquan presented a thesis specifically identifying several coin types as being from the Yarkand Khanate, which I shall not repeat here....

[If the coins were as widely used as suggested above,] the quantity of their mintage must have been rather large, their circulation broad, and the number surviving to this day not few. At the same time, the problem is that (with the exception of Mr. Qian Boquan) none of these articles have provided photographs or rubbings of Yarkand Khanate coinage. This has made it difficult to convince fellow numismatists.

This author proposes an initial categorization of four bronze coin types that should be considered issues of the Yarkand Khanate.

First, however - Through the study of Chinese numismatic history, we have noticed that there is a common theme; namely, in keeping with society's constant change and replacement of political powers, each power's coinage has also constantly changed, but each has had some traits in common with the coinage of the previous power. That is to say, it possesses a form of continuity. As for the reasons for this, the most important is consideration of the common people's adaptability and ability to accept the new. If this principle is ignored, the result is "a broken and bloody head," i.e., chaos. Wang Mang is a typical negative example.[3]

The Yarkand Khanate descended from the Eastern Chaghatai political entity. Because of this, early Yarkand coinage should resemble Eastern Chaghatai issues, made of red bronze and struck on thin flans. In the fourth quarterly edition of Xinjiang Numismatics for 1996, this author published a thin bronze coin which can now be considered type one of the Yarkand coinage. Another collector of Xinjiang coins has sent me several more examples of the same type. On one face the coins all bear an Islamic style intersecting oval pattern. On the other side are words in Arabic script. On one coin the inscription can be fairly clearly read as "Kashgar." The letters are large, as seen in the illustration. From this, it can be ascertained that this series originated in Kashgar. I originally took this to be a coin of a neighboring country, but this was a mistake which I correct here, and for which I beg the reader's forgiveness.[4]

This author has also collected three other types of struck red bronze coins which should be considered issues of the Yarkand Khanate. The second type is a round, biscuit-like bronze coin. Its average weight is 5.3 grams, with the heaviest weighing 6 grams; its average diameter is 17 mm and its thickness 3 mm. There are several oval pieces with narrow tops, which are 20 mm long and 17 mm in width. The face of the coin bears a rose-shaped pattern and Arabic letters. For details see the illustration attached to my 1996 vol. 4 article cited above. Mr. Qian Boquan has identified [the elongated version] as the prototype for the pul of Zhungaria. Coins of this category remain fairly plentiful, and are not infrequently seen.[5]

The third category of Yarkand coinage is rather special, struck in red copper, shaped like the head of a chopstick, cylindrical with a diameter of 10 mm and a thickness of 8-9 mm, and an average weight of 5.3 grams. One face bears incomplete Arabic inscriptions, while the other retains an incomplete rose pattern. The number of these coins still surviving is great. People of the northwest call them "chopstick head" coins.[6] They are estimated to be issues of the mid to late period of the Yarkand Khanate.

The fourth category is a type of small-module coins in the form of a biscuit, struck of red copper, heavily corroded, with a diameter of 12-14 mm and a thickness of 2-3 mm. Their weights range from 1.2 to 2.4 grams, averaging somewhere around 1.5 grams. They remain fairly common. According to what I have been told, the people in the region refer to them as Yarkand "coins for finding change." By this it can be determined that these served as small change in the mid to late Yarkand Khanate.[7]

In summary, to make a breakthrough in the subject of Yarkand coinage is a great task, something that a single man cannot do alone. This author cannot read Uyghur, but on the basis of style, material, weight, etc. I have made these investigations. It may indeed be a case of "Mr. Zhang wearing Mr. Li's cap," i.e., I may be mistaken. I welcome the participation of my colleagues from the broad numismatic community. Please voice your ideas, and let us work hard for the eventual resolution of this historical mystery.

(Closing note: If any readers have contributions to make which they would like to pass on to Mr. Tao, I will forward them to the journal in Chinese for his consideration. -A. Akin)


[1](This refers to the Ta'rikh-i Rashidi of Muhammad Haidar II Dughlat. For a general discussion of this and other sources for the history of this period, see chapter 14 of René Grousset's The Empire of the Steppes.)

(This is the same Ricci better known as a Jesuit missionary and scientific advisor to the Chinese court.)

(Wang Mang was the infamous Han dynasty usurper whose numerous and drastic changes in fiscal policy seriously damaged the Chinese economy. He has been cursed by Chinese economists for two thousand years, though modern collectors delight in the wide variety of coin types his failed policies produced.)

(Unfortunately, the poor quality of the illustrations reproduced in the journal makes it nearly impossible to read the inscriptions Mr. Tao cites. I remain skeptical about this attribution, but cannot offer an alternative reading because of the blurry quality of the rubbings. If any reader recognizes the coins illustrated as "type one," please bring your idea to our attention.)

(I have supplemented the rubbing from Mr. Tao's article with scans of pieces from my own collection. The reading of "Yarkand" is certain, though without any visible dates it is difficult to prove that these were issues of the Khanate. The Zhungar puls referred to above are the well-known thick, cast, teardrop-shaped coins of northern Xinjiang.)

(The name I commonly heard them called in 1997 and 1998 was "ma ti bi,' "horse-hoof coins." Their shape is indeed distinctive; I have again supplied a scan from my collection to supplement the rubbing provided. Their designs are copied from coins of type two, and there are some pieces which fall midway between the "horse hoof" and "biscuit" topology.)

(These seem to be late derivatives and imitations of type two coins.)



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Our thanks to Alexander for his contribution of this translation. Alexander has recently joined Steve Album in Santa Rosa, and I am sure we will be hearing from him regularly in our group.
The black and white scans are reproductions of rubbings from the original article. The other two scans are of coins from the author's collection.

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