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A Bride from Kublai Khan


This small illustration of ringdoves in the tree trunk and lotus blossom incorporates the influence of Chinese naturalism. The text was translated into Persian from Arabic for the Ilkhanid ruler Ghazan Khan (reigned 1295–1304). This page from a Persian manuscript Manafi‘ al-Hayawan (The Benefits of Animals) of Abu Said Ubaid-Allah ibn Jibrail ibn Bakhtishu (died 1058–68), c. 1300. Iran, Maragah, Ilkhanid period (1256–1353). Public domain via archive.org.


"Under the power of the Eternal Heaven. Under the majesty of the Khan (Kublai Khan). Arghun our word. To the Rey da France (King of France). Last year you sent your ambassadors led by Mar Ba Sawma telling us: "if the soldiers of the Il-Khan ride in the direction of Misir (Egypt) we ourselves will ride from here and join you", which words we have approved and said (in reply) "praying to Tengri (Heaven) we will ride on the last month of winter on the year of the Tiger and descend on Dimisq (Damascus) on the 15th of the first month of spring." Now, if, being true to your words, you send your soldiers at the appointed time and, worshiping Heaven, we conquer those citizens (of Damascus together), we will give you Orislim (Jerusalem). How can it be appropriate if you were to start amassing your soldiers later than the appointed time and appointment? What would be the use of regretting afterwards? Also, if, adding any additional messages, you let your ambassadors fly (to us) on wings, sending us luxuries, falcons, whatever precious articles and beasts there are from the land of the Franks, the Power of Tengri and the Majesty of the Khan only knows how we will treat you favorably. With these words we have send Muskeril (Buscarello) the Khorchi. Our writing was written while we were at Khondlon on the sixth khuuchid of the first month of summer on the year of the Ox."
-Letter from Arghun, AD 1289, to Philippe Le Bel IV, King of France (AD 1268–1314), translated from Mongolian, image public domain 

The red seals on this letter are made with six Chinese characters: 輔國安民之寶 Fǔguó ānmín zhībǎo ("Precious seal of the upholder of the State and the purveyor of peace to the People").


In 1282, Ahmed Tegiider (Ahmad Sultan), a convert from Christianity to Islam, succeeded his brother Abagha as ruler of the Ilkhanate and turned the Ilkhanate into a sultanate. In 1284, his nephew, Arghun son of Abagha, a devout Buddhist like his father, overthrew his uncle and took control of the Ilkhanate


Marco Polo relates the story of the battle between Ahmad Sultan and Arghun (Chapter 9, Travels). In 1291, after 17 years in the court of Kubilai Khan, when the Polos are leaving they are entrusted as escorts for a bride to Arghun, Kokechin, from his great-uncle Kublai Khan. Arghun's wife Queen Bulughan died in 1290 and asked that Arghun only replace her with a woman of her same lineage, so he requested a bride from Kublai Khan.

"A limited sphere of action may explain why they eventually grew restless to go home and leapt at an opportunity to join a fleet that was setting sail for Persia to deliver the princess Kokechin to her intended lord Arghun. Marco’s account of the mission is corroborated in both Chinese and Persian sources, including the names he gives of the three envoys of Arghun who left China and the one who arrived in Persia. The Polos do not feature in either source, and it seems highly improbable that, as we hear, Khubilai entrusted the royal bride to their personal care. But the evidence indubitably puts them on the fleet of junks that sailed in 1291 from Quanzhou, through the South China Sea and Strait of Malacca, and into the Indian Ocean."
-Nigel Cliff, The Travels by Marco Polo, Penguin Classic, 2016 

The journey took 18 months and by the time they arrived Arghun was dead and his brother Geykhatu was the reigning khan.


Ilkhanid, Irinjin Turji/Gaykhatu (690-694 AH), Gold Dinar, Tabriz 693 AH, 4.33g

Ref: A 2158


Kokechin was given to Arghun's son Ghazan. Kokechin was the inspiration for the character of the Blue Princess in the Netflix series Marco Polo. (see: https://www.bustle.com/articles/55800-was-the-blue-princess-from-marco-polo-real-the-true-story-is-stranger-than-fiction)

Arghun enthroned with his khatun (possibly Quthluq Khatun) by Sayf al-Vâhidî circa 1430. Image public domain via Wikipedia.


Arghun's son Ghazan and his cousin, Baydu, son of Ṭaraqāy and grandson of Hülegü the founder of the Ilkhanid dynasty, both posed a threat to Geykhatu's reign. A rebellion in Bhagdad, led by Ṭaghāchār in 1295, led to the execution of Geykhatu and brought Baydu to power. Baydu only reigned 4 months before Ghazan overthrew him. This coin issued by Baydu:

Ilkhan, Baydu, 1295, AR dirhem (17mm, 2.67g), Uncertain date and mint.

Obv: Kalima (Muslim profession of faith) within a square, mint and date around (only partially seen)

Rev: inscription in a mixture of Arabic and Uighur: Kaganu nereber Baydunun delegteguluk son ("Struck in the name of the Khan, Baidu")

Ref: Mitchiner World of Islam (MWoI) cf.1588.


Ghazan converted to Islam on June 16, 1295, and took the name Mahmud to gain support to amir Naruz in overthrowing Baydu. Thanks to some help from numisforum member DLTCoins, I can now identify these two coins as Album 2168C, coins of Ghazan khan, likely from AH 697 (reported by Album as the only known year for this coin). The "hawk & sun" design sometimes attributed as "Simurgh" a mythical bird.


Iran, Ilkhans, Pictorial AR dirham of Ghazan khan (695-703 AH/1295-1304), struck at Astarabad (located in Northern Iran), date off flan (only know date is AH 697, BCE 1297)

Obv: the ruler name in Uighur and Arabic; with hawk with sun behind, Saadet knot to left, reverse in square; the Arabic legend from 3 o'clock to 9 o'clock reads padishah zadeh Ghazan 'adil.

Rev: Shia Muslim Shahada for Allah, prophet Muhamad and Imam Ali

Ref: Album-2168C; Zeno 13407

Notes: Album notes that for these "pre-reform" coins , the use of Sunni, Shi‘ite and Christian legends does not imply conversions by the ruler, but reflects the preferences of the local population in the city where the coins were minted. This appears to be a fairly rare coin from the end of the pre-reform period. Two phases of reform took place AH 696-697.


Is there some meaning to this symbol behind bird - or just decorative? I found this symbols described generally as an arabesque, and more specifically a "Saadet knot" with the explanation that in Turkish, saadet" means happiness, bliss, welfare. Other variants have a date or text in this spot e.g. Arghun Zeno 22412 or date=692 Zeno 8621.

These coins interesting not only for these completeness but also for their trilingual inscriptions.

Ilkhanids. Mahmud Ghazan I, AH 694-703 / AD 1295-1304. Trilingual type, AR 1 Dirhams (2.11g, 19mm), Album 2173, Kashan, 700(?)

Ilkhanids, Mahmud Ghazan , 1295-1304, AR 2 dirhams (4.28g, 22mm), trilingual type, Album 2172, Tabriz, [6]97

Obv: "Ghazan Mahmud" in the centre of Arabic script.

Rev: "Ghazan Mahmud" in Arabic, in the centre of Mongolian Uighur and Chinese Pagspa script.


This is a rare AR ½ dirham of Ghazan Mahmud:

Ilkhanids, Mahmud Ghazan , 1295-1304, AR ½ dirhams (1.08g, 17.5mm), trilingual type, Album 2174, Bazar, 6[XX] (?)

Ghazan died on 17 May 1304 and his borther Uljaitu (son of Arghun) was his successor.

Ilkhanid , AR 2 Dirham, 4.32g, Uljaitu OR Öljaitü (1304-1316), Isfahan, typeB (quatrefoil / inner circle), dated

709-713

Ref: Zeno #245906:Album 2184


The Ilkhanate became destabilized and disintegrated after the death of Abu Said (son of Uljaitu) (1316–1331), during the reign of his successor, Arpa Ke'un (1335-1336). Album describes the coinage of Abu Said as "With at least 150 mints active during this reign for silver coinage, there are innumerable minor variants, stylistic differences, etc., in what is perhaps the most extensive and complex Islamic coinage of any single ruler." This coin particularly lustrous, well preserved, and well struck:

Ilkhans, Abu Sa'id (1316-35), AR 2 dirham, 3.54g, 22mm, Album 2210 (type F)


Although Islamic coins are often light and thin flans - this one is not - at 8.26g and 27x23mm and about 2mm thick it is an unusual 6 dirhem coin of Abu Said.

Abu Said, 1317-1335, AR 6 Dirhems, 33 Khani; Sab mint

Obv: the extended kalima in the spiraled Kufic script, as found on occasional coin

issues over the succeeding 200 years, and on architectural monuments from then to the present.

Rev: Abu Sa‘id, is written in the Uighur script,with the rest of the text in Arabic.

Note: Album 2217 type H. The date is given in the Khani calendar, a solar calendar invented by the Ilkhans and based on year one commencing in 701 Hijr and year 33 corresponds to AH 734/735 (BCE 1332/33).

Abu Sa'id Mitchiner 1625


This coin comes from a period after Abu Sa'id when rival khans fought over power, recognizing one or another. Changes in type and weight standard became increasingly frequent.

Ilkhans, Suleiman (739 - 746 AH / AD 1339 - 1346), AR 2 Dirhams, frozen date 745 AH (1343/1344 AD), Hisn mint, type G (18mm, 1.13 g)

Obv: Kalima within a cartouche ("mihrab" - is a niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the the direction in which one should pray), date spelled out around (745 AH = 1343/1344 AD)

Rev: Zarb/hisn in the first and last lines of a 6-pointed star (pointed hexafoil with

margin divided into 6 clouds), Al-Sultan al-adil Suleiman khalad Allah malkeh ("the just sultan Suleiman, may Allah lengthen his rule"), with Ref: Album# 2257 Type G

Note: This type is thought to have been produced in Hisn for a few decades following the demise of Suleiman. These coins are generally quite rare, with most specimens known coming from a hoard that appeared on the market in 1980's. Album writes:

"At Hisn, this type continued to be issued with immobilized date 745 until the invasion of Timur in 796/1393. Later strikes are usually considerably blundered, struck on increasingly debased silver, but generally retaining the 1.44g weight standard."

References



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