Author Topic: Horse Jitals of Ala al-Din Muhammad KhwarezmShah, 1200-1220 AD.  (Read 3032 times)

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Offline THCoins

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Bit slow here lately. So i thought i'd post some less common examples.

The Khwarezmshahs were a dynasty of Turkish Mamluk descent who started out as governors of the Khwarezm regio, south of the Aral sea. Over the years they expanded their realm over large parts of Persia and Afghanistan.
Ala al-din Muhammad (AH596-617, 1200-1220AD) was the last of the ruling Khwarezmshahs. At the end of his reign the Khwarezm territory was run over by the Mongols of Ghengis Khan. While going into exile Ala al-din Muhammad died. His son, Mangaburni, tried to seek asylum with the Sultans of Delhi, but was refused. After this Mangaburni established his own temporary power base but was soon defeated after encounters with various enemies.

Like other rulers in the Afghanistan/Pakistan/North-India region, the Kwarezmshahs issued coinage based on the "Bull and Horseman" design from the Kabul region.
On these coins of Ala al-din Muhammad the bull has disappeared, and is replaced by an Arab legend. The horse rider remains. What i show here are two very different examples of his horse Jitals.

The first one often is called a horse Jital, but actually it isn't. It is a copper (fiduciary) Dirham weighing 4.6 grams. This is based on a central asian coin weight standard called "Ghidrifi". It is also much larger than most Jitals with 22 mm.
Qunduz mint, Tye#240. Another example of this was shown here.

The second is a billon Jital 15 mm, 2.7 gr, Sibi mint, Tye#218. This very much resembles some horse Jitals issued by the Delhi sultans, like this one.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2014, 08:25:55 PM by THCoins »

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Horse Jitals of Ala al-Din Muhammad KhwarezmShah, 1200-1220 AD.
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2014, 01:33:13 PM »
Ya learn something every day. A fiduciary coin in the 13th century? Really? Couldn't it have been a fouré?

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline THCoins

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Re: Horse Jitals of Ala al-Din Muhammad KhwarezmShah, 1200-1220 AD.
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2014, 05:29:51 PM »
No, no fouré. I can not find the source right now, but there actually are historic written accounts that these coins were used in their plain copper form.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Horse Jitals of Ala al-Din Muhammad KhwarezmShah, 1200-1220 AD.
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2014, 07:18:24 PM »
Ah, but use as a copper coin alone is no proof of fiduciary use. There are enough examples of the same denomination coins in copper and silver. It all depends on the copper/silver price ratio. Maybe it's all just semantics. For me, a fiduciary coin is one where the metal value is significantly below the denomination. The earliest fiduciary coins I know is the "forced currency" of Mohammed bin Tughluq.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline THCoins

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Re: Horse Jitals of Ala al-Din Muhammad KhwarezmShah, 1200-1220 AD.
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2014, 07:39:25 PM »
Yes i use the same definition for fiduciary. These copper coins were used with a trade value above their intrinsic value.
Also Tye catalogs them as a fiduciary issue. It is thought that this type adhered to a standard of fiduciary dirhams already used before that period in the Bukhara/Samarqand region. That's where the Ghidrifi name originates.
So well before Mohammad Bin Tughluq in Delhi.

This i believe is the earliest fiduciary coinage in the region:
The base metal coinage in the name of Al-Mahdi of Bukhara. Originally these were of silver. This was changed to a base metal alloy. People only started accepted these when a fixed exchange rate to silver was set by law. This system was in use for quite a prolonged period of time.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2014, 08:02:18 PM by THCoins »

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Horse Jitals of Ala al-Din Muhammad KhwarezmShah, 1200-1220 AD.
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2014, 10:46:17 PM »
Magnificent, TH! Thank you.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline THCoins

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Re: Horse Jitals of Ala al-Din Muhammad KhwarezmShah, 1200-1220 AD.
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2014, 05:03:05 PM »
In the startpost i showed a Qunduz mint specimen of Ala al-din Muhammad. A slightly different type was produced in Bamiyan.
It is slightly smaller and has Arab texts around the horseman.

AE 19, 3.93 gr, Tye#237.5

Offline THCoins

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Re: Horse Jitals of Ala al-Din Muhammad KhwarezmShah, 1200-1220 AD.
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2014, 08:30:30 PM »
Continuing the series of Khwarezm Jitals, there are also some issues with both bull and horseman from Qunduz mint.
There are several subtypes mainly based on the symbols at the rump of the animals. The right one is a bit corroded, but seems stable hard corrosion, might need some tender love and care to limit this.
Left:   AE 22 mm, 4.52 gr, Tye#243.4var (because of the triangular star in front of the bulls bump)
Right: AE 22 mm, 4.41 gr, Tye#243.6var (symbol on rump horse is horizontally flipped)
« Last Edit: December 07, 2014, 02:12:32 PM by THCoins »

Offline Manzikert

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Re: Horse Jitals of Ala al-Din Muhammad KhwarezmShah, 1200-1220 AD.
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2014, 11:19:42 PM »
If I might add my only example, Tye 243.1, 4.07 gm, 25 mm

Alan

Offline THCoins

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Re: Horse Jitals of Ala al-Din Muhammad KhwarezmShah, 1200-1220 AD.
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2014, 10:51:26 AM »
Very welcome addition Alan ! Your specimen is in much better condition than mine and shows the arab inscriptions much clearer.
Just checked the Tye book: Tye 243.1 does not have the small star between the text ande the bump of the bull which your specimen has. So another variant i suppose.
Not a horse Jital, but just to add a related Ala-ud-din Muhammad Jital:
This is a smaller copper coin, AE 17, 2.42 mm, Tye 246.3, Kurzuwan Mint. Just to illustrate the wide range of different coins of different designs and sizes issued under this ruler.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2014, 02:10:23 PM by THCoins »

Offline EWC

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Re: Horse Jitals of Ala al-Din Muhammad KhwarezmShah, 1200-1220 AD.
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2014, 11:12:50 AM »
This i believe is the earliest fiduciary coinage in the region:
The base metal coinage in the name of Al-Mahdi of Bukhara. Originally these were of silver. This was changed to a base metal alloy. People only started accepted these when a fixed exchange rate to silver was set by law. This system was in use for quite a prolonged period of time.

That’s roughly correct

Here is my opinion: 

All the jitals probably had a fiat component of value.  One has to guess, but my guess is that the initial Shahi issues were valued at silver but were about 30% alloy – so 30% fiat.  In their final defence against the Ghaznavids, around 1000 AD, there was a quantum drop to 75% alloy – probably due to the loss of the treasury (Unlike Gordon Brown, the Shahis seem to have held a metal cash reserve of about 25% of  total circulation –  about 250 million  jitals – but Mahmud took the lot).

Anyhow – the broad flan Qunduz jitals pictured above of about 1215 AD or so seem to me to derive from both jitals and the Ghidrifi coinage of Bohkhara (weight and broad flan from Ghidrifi tradition). 

The way the Ghidrifi worked is this.  They are rather base coins, but they were the only thing accepted in payment of local taxes.  Unlike Bitcoins, the only way you could get them initially was to pay up front in 100% pure silver dirhems.  Their value floated on the market, but Bokhara did not worry much about deflation, employment, etc, and restricted supply of Ghidrifi, and so quickly drove the value up to about par with a silver dirhem – thus about 85% fiat, as I recall.  Later records claim this premium was maintained for centuries.

These details come from a medieval document written by Narshakhi.  The document has been known for a long time – but during the cold war top scholars in both the USA and the USSR suggested it was unreliable, and that Narshakhi was somehow confused.  But there is nothing confused in what Narshakhi wrote, which is very clear and seems to fit the extant coins (which are usually very worn, as they never lost value, at least not for centuries).  The confusion seems to be entirely in the minds of official scholars in the 20th century.

My guess about the source of this confusion runs as follows  (I am simplifying matters of course!).  Both “left wing” (cartelists) and “right wing” (bullionist) mid 20th century economists colluded in spreading a myth that the pre-moderns did not understand quantity theory, and so could not run a fiat currency.

20th century bullionists wanted to present Keynsianism as just a stupid idea thought up by Keynes – so did not want to admit these things had precedents.

20th century cartelists wanted to present Keynsianism as a stroke of genius thought up by Keynes - so did not want to admit these things had precedents.

Real history shows both attitudes – cartelism and bullionism - have been tried many times.  In history, all things eventually end badly……

Anyhow  - that’s the Ghidrifi.  The only really relevant  text I know of concerning the late jitals themselves is a strange letter found in a pot in a cave in Afghanistan, written about 1211 AD.  The writer seems to be doing something similar to what Narsharkhi describes.   He is using “dirhems” to buy “corn”.  These are slang terms, what it probably means is he is using fiat jitals to buy up bullion coinage.   Things are not going well however.  The letter seems to be written by a frightened man in his tent at night – he has an armed guard, but he claims he needs more men to protect him.  I seem to recall other tax collectors were killed by an angry mob in Bokhara about that time – actually – they were killed, jointed and the meat hung up in a butcher’s shop.  But we do not know what happened to this chap.

These monetary/tax disturbances perhaps crucially undermined Afghanistan, people hated the rulers so much, the whole place was a push over when Ghengis Khan arrived.  There was no national army, the Khwarezmian emperor ran away, and left the cities to try defend themselves individually.  See the Kurzuwan siege coin listed here recently – in the name of the quickly elected and probably very short lived  anonymous  local “king”.  There was a late fight back by Mangubarni – but that another story.

That’s the gist of my opinion anyhow.  I take the details from memory, so may be off on one or two facts…….Perhaps some moderator might want to move this to another place, depending on which matters interest folk (if any)

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Horse Jitals of Ala al-Din Muhammad KhwarezmShah, 1200-1220 AD.
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2014, 03:14:40 PM »
Thank you, EWC. This is right in the middle of three of my main interests: coinage from the area that is now Uzbekistan, financial history and monetary theory. Highly interesting.

In theoretical terms, Ghidifri as you describe it is not circulating money. It derives the fiduciary part of its value from there being no other way to pay taxes, coupled with judicial unpleasantness if you don't pay your taxes. Since Khwarezm depended on caravans coming through for its wealth, Ghidifri is like a road* toll token, where Khwarezm is the toll booth. You have to spend it there but you can't spend it anywhere else. It will work only if there is no viable alternative to the toll road. It will take the official value only for as long as people trust they can use it to pay their taxes with at the official value.

You are right to see this as a precursor to fiduciary money. It is, however, a special kind of fiduciary money that would not have worked in most other places, because viable alternatives would have been available.

All of the above is not related to Keynesian theory, which is about demand management by controlling the quantity of money.

Peter

* or tunnel or bridge
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline EWC

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Re: Horse Jitals of Ala al-Din Muhammad KhwarezmShah, 1200-1220 AD.
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2014, 05:17:57 PM »
Great to find you interested in this too.  I have been reading a lot on some aspects of Keyne's thought recently, so would be keen to discuss this further.

Am only guessing about the Ghidrifi's but they seem to have been good for all debts, dominating payments at Bokhara, so perhaps not all that different from a modern currency, at least, as cartalists would define money - as being backed by its acceptability to the state.  One would guess they were negotiable at most other cities in the vicinity, much as modern currencies are.  Bokhara copied the idea from Khwarezm, which also had it own debased fiat component coin.  And there are lots of examples of Fiat coin earlier than the Ghidrifi

How about a new thread?  ‘Keynes, Coins and Cartelism’ maybe?

As I understand him, Keynes did not much like coins…….

Offline THCoins

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Re: Horse Jitals of Ala al-Din Muhammad KhwarezmShah, 1200-1220 AD.
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2014, 06:45:36 PM »
Rob, thanks for the addition ! I am not the economist in the family (that's my little brother and his wife, they are a typical dutch "bankstel").  But I do not mind at all if the discussion side-steps sometimes from the physical coin objects tot the monetary systems they were used in. And i think that's true for many ancient collectors. The objects only obtain multi-dimensionality if you observe them in their context. So it's a pleasure to read the discussion by two people much more knowledgable in this than i am.