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Georgian kingdom, unusual shaped coinage

Started by capnbirdseye, January 25, 2018, 05:13:49 PM

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During the late 11th and 12th centuries the mountainous South Caucasus kingdom of Georgia flourished.
A remarkable series of rulers from the Bagrationi dynasty oversaw this, including Georgi III (1156-1184) and his daughter, Tamar the Great (1184-1213)– a Queen who was addressed as "King" (მეფე mep'e).
Amid the expansion of the Georgian kingdom and its cultural flowering, this period also produced some of the strangest and most fantastical coinage ever minted in the region. All coinage from this period was bronze (because of the 'silver famine' in the Middle East). While some pieces were struck on regular round planchets, others clearly were not!

The coin here is a so-called 'irregular bronze.' On the obverse, the central image is Queen Tamar's monogram within a wreath. Surrounding this is a marginal legend written in the Georgian Asomtavruli script.

On the reverse is an extended 5 line Arabic legend in the center, reading:

    الملكة المعظمة
    جلال الدنيا والدين
    تامار بنت كيوركى
    ظهير المسيح
    اعز الله انصار
    The great Queen
    Glory of the World and Faith
    Tamar daughter of Giorgi
    Champion of the Messiah
    May God increase [her] victories

With a marginal legend of:

    ضاعف الله جلالها ومدّ ظلالها وايد اقبالها

    May God increase her glory and lengthen her shadow and strengthen her beneficence! (Lang and Dundua)

( information & photographs by kind permission of the American Numismatic Society)


This second one is even more bizarre as it's clearly a depiction of some kind of bird, probably a Duck
It has the same legend but a different version of Queen Rusudan's cyphers. This piece can be dated to k'oronikon 430 (=1210 CE),  Although the irregular coppers are often simply irregular blobs, some of them, like this suspiciously bird-shaped one, seem to play off of forms from nature.


The first one looks like a yummy chocolate to me. It makes me want to eat one right now...


I find the reasoning "I like the shape but don't understand why they gave it that shape so it must be decoration" shaky. Here is an alternative, based on nothing except my fantasy. What if the shape were the denomination? "This coin is worth the same as a plucked duck." "This coin is worth a skin* of booze." Seven centuries later, the skin of a deer (buck) was the equivalent of a dollar...


* In earlier times, animal skins had the same functions as tetra-packs today.
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


I think the shapes are totally random, and any resemblance to any other object is totally fortuitous. For instance, my only example looks a little (but only a little) like a foot.