Author Topic: Khwarezm shah Ala ud-Din Muhammad (1200-1220), Several Bulls Jitals  (Read 1750 times)

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Offline THCoins

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The coinage of Khwarezmshah Ala-Ud-Din Muhammad is plentifull. I believe there is no contemporary ruler under who's authority so many different types were issued. Differences in coinage types is not purely based on different mintplaces. Different mints also produced quite similar designs. This seems to reflect a quite well organised money infrastructure.
The Kwarezmshah were of central asian origin but extended their power over Afganistan and the Afghan-indian borderlands. The first picture shows a map of the region with some important mintplaces with approximately indicated locations.
Previous posts on this board showed mainly the Horseman and text design issues, but the Khwarezmshahi also issued Bull-type Jitals. In a family tree of related jitals Rob Tye shows that the basic Kwarezm bull type is that from Kurraman. This seems a continuation of the type brought there by Ghorid ruler Yildiz. The Ghorids again copied the design from the Ghaznavids.

The first coin shows the Bull Jital issued under Ala-ud-din Muhammad from Kurraman. AR 15 mm, 2.93 gr, Tye#292
The mintname "Kerman" is nicely visible below the bull.
The second coin is another specimen of the same type Tye#292, 15 mm 3.1 gr. I added it for two reasons:
- Firstly, it nicely shows that specimen of this type may be found with different aspects of the metal. Most, like the first specimen, seem a bit brittle, with cracks and broken off pieces from the edges. These look as if they have a high lead content. The second coin looks to be of a much better copper content. The difference could indicate an initial alloy difference. But also different environmental conditions under which the coins survived the ages may be a causal factor.
- Secondly, where the first coin has the better obverse, the reverse is better on the second. The text reads: Al Sultan / Al Azam  Abu l'Fath / Muhammad bin Sultan. 

The third coin shows another type attributed to Kurraman. AR 16 mm, 3.15 gr, Tye#297.2
This has a different reverse text: Al Sultan / Al Azam Abu / al Fath Muhammad / (bin) Sultan Tekish.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2016, 03:15:58 PM by THCoins »

Offline THCoins

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The next two coins build on the previous design. However, a very nice element is that they state the mintname in Arab on the bull's rump. Both seem to be made from an alloy with a high lead content.

The first one is from Ghazna, AR 15 mm, 3.07 gr, Tye#294.
There may be some discussion about what is written on the bull. Based on some specimen some people have read it as "adil", "just" instead of Ghazna. Possibly there may be some truth in this as this would be a nice way to make the coin politically inoffensive to the ruler of the day, as these switched a lot during these times.
On this specimen, i prefer Ghazna: غزن, as with the two dots, this seems to resemble the inscription better than Adil: عدل

The second is likely from Peshawar, written in an abreviated form as "Parshu" پرشو, AR 15 mm, 3.07 gr, Tye#293.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2016, 06:50:31 PM by THCoins »

Offline THCoins

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Recently, i received some scarcer Jitals, thanks to Rob Tye. This made me restructure this older thread a bit and gave me the chance to add this new and very special Jital to the series of Bull Jitals of Khwarezmshah Ala-al-Din Muhammad.

The obverse shows the familiar bull. With some text on the rump. Above is likely a version of "SaMaNta" in degraded Nagari.
The reverse, not so surprizing, reads "Al-Sultan al-Azam, Abu l'Fath Muhammad bin Sultan".

So what makes this coin so special ?
First, it is numismatically interesting because it is rare and there is an ongoing discussion about what is the exact meaning of the text on the bull. Second, it might be of historic importance, and give an insight in the distribution of power in the Khwarezm empire.

Concerning the rarity; i do not have an insight into how many of these are known to exist. However, the single specimen present on Zeno may give some support to the claim of rarity.
If one looks at the coin below it has a very distinguishing detail: there is a line in the shape of a lying crescent which starts at the top of the rightmost character of the text in the bull. This ascends leftwards through the text. But it is not a part of the text as it passes the upper line of the bull and ends in front of the bull's backbump. In hand, this looks like the effect of a die defect. Looking at the specimen on Zeno, not only the design of the bull is similar, but the same die defect is visible. So both specimen seem die identical. It is very rarely so that one can find this in ancient coins which have been produced in some quantity. In contrast, the text side is not die identical, nor seems the metal composition. So it seems that these coins were not struck together in one minting run.

Then the text on the bull; It has not conclusively been decided what this should read. I will just name two possiblities:
The first possibility suggests that the die maker had some sense of humor as the text could be read as بقرة, "baqara", as this just means "cow".
A more likely reading is forwarded by Robert Tye, although he gives no further interpretation, as نغارة "Naghara". I think this is the best hypothesis as it also seems to make the most sense historically.
On the other bull Jitals the name on the bull indicates the mint name. Now there is no current town called Naghara. But that does not say anything as also Kurraman does not exist under that name anymore. There is however a Kurram valley which is a remnant of the earlier geographic mintplace name.
In the previous post in this thread was a bull Jital from Peshawar. Peshawar was a strategically important town for the Khwarezmshahi. Peshawar was the first important city at the eastern end of the Khyber pass route through the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan (also visible on the map in the opening post). The first important city at the western side of the Khyberpass route with similar strategic importance is Jalalabad. But it was not yet named Jalalabad during the Khwarezmshahi era. It was known as Nagrahar or Nagarahara. The province in which Jalalabad lies is still named Nangarhār.
I think there is a lot to say for equating the "Naghara" on this bull with Nagarahara as a mintingplace.

AE 15 mm, 2.86 gr, Tye#295
« Last Edit: May 11, 2016, 05:55:49 PM by THCoins »

Offline EWC

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Hello Ton

That's fascinating!  Did you figure out when the name change/new city came about?  Looks like it might be under Akbar?

I have a confession to make about our map.  We figured out the reading of the mint name Sibi from the style of the coins and from the list of old towns in the right area in Zambaur, and then put it on the map according to how many medieval days camel ride Zambaur recorded it as being east of Bust.  It did not occur to me to check - the town is still there - and camels were faster than I reckoned..............

Rob

Offline THCoins

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Jalalabad seems to have changed names several times. According to the references it was named after Pir Jalala, the son of Pir Roshan who was an Afghan folk hero and one of the adversaries of the Mughals.

Nagara in Sanskrit also means town, so i went looking for the most likely town as a candidate. The style of the coin is very similar to Peshawar. So on the map i followed the main roads out of Peshawar and looked up the history of places along the way. Given the importance of the Khyberpass route i quickly came to Jalalabad as most likely origin. But it is just a hypothesis which i'd gladly swap if anyone comes up with a better one.

Anthony