Turkoman figural types. Coins of the "Foes of the Crusaders."
Most Islamic coin types consist of Arabic legends without images, but in the 12th and 13th centuries Turkoman rulers in eastern Turkey and Syria issued figural types with images of humans or animals. Some imitated earlier Byzantine types with Christian images!
Here is one of the earliest Turkoman figural types, struck by the first Artuqid ruler to issue figural types. Compare it with the second coin, below, and note how the obverse on this Islamic coin imitates a Byzantine coin with an image of Christ!
Artuqid Dynasty. Fakra al-din Qara Arslan
AH 539-570. AD 1144-1174.
Struck c. 539/540/1145-1146.
28-25 mm. 9.95 grams.
Christ seated on high-backed throne facing (just like on Byzantine Class D anonymous folles)
Arabic up right and down left of throne:
"Helper and Commander of the Faithful"
Uncertain letters, possibly numerals, left and right of the head.
Reverse has legend in three lines in Arabic (Kufic) continuing on right, top, and left. It gives the ruler's titles, names, and pedigree back three generations.
bin Artuq up left (his great grandfather),
Qara Arslan down right.
bin Daud (across top--his father.)
al Malik al a/lim al-adil/Fakhr al-Din
Spengler and Sayles 2.1. Wilkes 1173.
The next Byzantine type is the model, from a hundred years earlier, for the above Artuqid obverse.
Byzantine anonymous follis of "Class D. "
Sear 1836. Constantine IX, 1042-1055.
In DOC, dated by Grierson to "c. 1050 - c. 1060,"
(Constantine IX, 1042-1055 and Constantine X, 1055-1067.)
Class D, Sear 1836
25 mm. 8.68 grams.
Christ seated on high-backed throne facing
Small IC left and XC right
Lovely earthen highlighting.
ISXS (Jesus Christus)
bASILE (king of)
Byzantine Class D coins are very common.
Legends. Just to illustrate what most early Arabic coins look like, here is an common early silver dirham with only legends:
Arabic legends, both sides
"In the name of Allah/was minted/this dirham/at Wasit/ year 1 and 20 and 1 hundred," around the reverse.
This coin is from AH 121 which is AD 738/9.
Hisham was the Caliph of Damascus at the time, so this is attributed to "Hisham" although it does not say his name on the coin.
The mist of Wasit was on the Euphrates west of Basra.
Almost all early "Arabic" or "Islamic" coins have legends as types on both sides. That is what makes figural bronze so unusual.
References: The primary reference works are given on this page.