Collection of the National Museum of Mongolia: Coins of the Mongol Empire

Art & Culture
2021-05-04 17:53:01

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/. Coins are considered as a type of cultural artifact left behind by previous generations of humankind hundreds of years ago and they clearly depict socio-economic situation at the time.

As for nomadic Mongolians, payment instruments were not only limited to livestock, but also currency - which can be seen from the usage of heavy coins as well as cash with the guarantee of gold and silver, depicting the socio-economic relations and cultural level of the nomadic society at the time.  

Many types of gold, silver, and bronze coins dated back to the Mongol Empire have been found from various countries so far. Here are three of the coins that are being kept in the collection of the National Museum of Mongolia.

1. The Silver Coin of Arghun Khaan

During the reign of Arghun Khaan - the son of Abaqa Khaan, several big cities were established in the Ilkhanate. Illustrations of the sun and the moon as well as animals such as the tiger, eagle, and falcon were commonly depicted on the coins of Arghun Khaan. This particular coin being kept at the museum is a 2-dirham silver coin, made by casting in Baghdad in 1285. With ‘Struck by Arghun in the name of the Khaan’ engraved in Mongolian script on the front, it has a Kalima - a verse from the Quran in Arabic on the other side.

2. The Silver Coin of Ghazan Khaan

The son of Arghun Khaan - Ghazan Khaan was the ruler of the Ilkhanate in 1295-1304. During his reign, one of the many reforms that were made were the monetary policy reforms. As he had stated that the coin must be made with such high craftsmanship skills that one would want to keep the coin instead of immediately using it, the khanate’s first ever unified coin design was created in 1296-1297. Under the Khaan’s name, the coins were made out of gold and silver with a strict standard. The Ghazan Khaan’s 2-dirham silver coin being kept in the museum collection is considered as one of the coins with writing and imagery that are of good quality. Made by casting in 1302, it has ‘Struck by Ghazan under the Power of the Sky’ in Mongolian script and ‘Ghazan Mahmud’ in Arabic on the front, with ‘Ghazan’ in the middle.

3. 6-dirham Silver Coin of Abu Sa’id

Abu Sa’id was crowned as the Khaan of the Ilkhanate at the age of 12 in 1316. Commonly referred to as ‘Sultan Abu Sa’id Bahadur’, he issued a coin that had the regnal year of Mongolian khaans. The 6-dirham silver coin was issued in the 33rd year of his reign in 1335. On the front side of the coin, it states the Khaan’s name ‘Bu Sa’id’ in Mongolian script and has ‘Great Sultan Abu Sa’id Bahadur Khaan, May God perpetuate his Kingdom,’ written in Arabic on its two sides. On the back, it has Kalima written in Kufic - the oldest calligraphic form of Arabic scripts inside a square frame. 

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