Artuqid Atabegs of Hisn Kayfa & Amid

 Dirham

Obverse

Within linear circle: a clean shaven half figure facing slightly to left, bare-headed with bun showing to right, shoulders draped in cloak

In margin, within beaded circle anticlockwise from 1:00: al-malik al-‘adil Fakhr al-din Qara Arslan bin Da’ud bin Artuq “the just king Fakhr al-din Qara Arslan bin Da’ud bin Artuq”

Reverse

Crowned bearded half figure, much like a Byzantine emperor, shoulders draped over ornate undergarment. The five-pointed crown has pendilia to left and right

In arcs to right and left within beaded circle: to right upwards duriba fi sana tisa’, to left downwards wa khamsin wa khams mi’a “struck in year nine and fifty and five hundred”

Fakhr al-din Qara Arslan was the first of the Artuqids of Hisn Kayfa and Amid to strike an ornamental copper coinage, and by art historical standards it is easily the most attractive and creative of any of these rulers’ figural issues. This dynasty did not strike gold or silver, and their copper dirhams are the coins for which they are famous. These coins almost certainly served as substitutes for a silver coinage, which the Artuqids were probably not permitted by their political and religious overlords to strike at this time. The type seen here is the rarest of Qara Arslan’s coinage. His earliest coin bore a haloed, facing figure of Christ, his second an enthroned figure of Christ, the third a winged figure of Victory and the fourth a facing figure with a spear over his left shoulder and an orb in his right hand. This, the fifth issue, was followed by the sixth, the first on which the name of the Abbasid Caliph appeared. Perhaps there was some reticence on the part of Qara Arslan to link the caliph’s name with the overtly Christian symbolism seen on his early issues. His later ones seem to be linked more closely with an astrological interpretation of their images which would have been much less controversial to Muslim opinion. It is unusual to find an example so well struck and in such good condition as this very rare coinage.

Artuqid Atabegs of Hisn Kayfa & Amid

MaterialCopper
TypeDirham
RulerFakhr al-din Qara Arslan bin Rukn al-din Da’ud
MintWithout mint name, but probably Hisn Kayfa (in south-eastern Anatolia)
Date559H (1163-1164 CE)
Weight9.36g
Diameter29mm