• sulla80

Lion and Sun, გურჯი-ხათუნი

Updated: Dec 13, 2020

In 1237 AD, Ḡīāṯ-al-Dīn Kayḵosrow II became sultan when his father died. He would reign until his death in 1245 AD.


Bar Hebraeus (AD 1226 – 1286), a bishop of the Syriac church, didn't think much of the Sultan Ḡīāṯ-al-Dīn Kayḵosrow II:

"Then the new Sultan GHAYATH AD-DIN sent and had brought to him the daughter of the queen of the IBERIANS for a wife; and he loved her dearly. And he gave himself up to childishness of mind, and be began to occupy himself with wine-bibbings and drinking bouts, and he amused himself with birds and animals. And he left the government of his kingdom in the hands of his slaves, and each of them began to act as he pleased."

-Bar Hebraeus, Chronicles, 471


The image is from a 16th century translation of an older book on astrology by Abu Mashar showing the conjunction of the Sun and the constellation Leo.


The reference to "IBERIA" was confusing as I thought Ḡīāṯ-al-Dīn's wife, Tamar, came from Georgia. This became clearer with this map showing Iberia as an old name for an eastern Georgian state.

Image by Deu, based on work by A. Anderson and Don-Kun CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Tamar was born a member of the Bagrationi dynasty, daughter of Queen Rusudan and Seljuk prince Ghias ad-din, and grand-daughter of Queen Tamar the Great. She became better known as Gürcü Hatun (meaning "Georgian Lady", the Georgian words in the title of this post გურჯი-ხათუნი).


The sun face and lion on my coin of interest today, may represent the constellation of Leo and be a symbol of the ruler's power. Another story, is that the sun and lion represent the astrological sign of Tamar, and another, not necessarily conflicting, is that the sun face represents the Georgian princess Tamar (Gürcü Hatun), the beloved wife of Kayḵosrow II, while the lion symbolizes the Sultan. The stories linked with his love of Tamar are based on Bar Hebraeus (1226-1286), a bishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church, who noted that Sultan Ḡīāṯ-al-Dīn Kayḵosrow, the Saljuqid of Rūm, was so much in love with Tamar that he expressed the wish to place an image of her on his dirhams. There is a coin with two lions that raises questions about the story of the sun representing Tamar and the lion representing the sultan.

Seljuks, Rum, Sultan Ḡīāṯ-al-Dīn Kayḵosrow, first reign, AH 634-644 / AD 1237-1246, Dirham, Sivas, AH 639 = AD 1241/2

Obv: Lion advancing right; personification of sun above; in field to left, star; below, star and crescent with pellet; around, الامام المستنصربالله اميرالمؤمنين legend “the Imam al-Mustansir billah, Commander of the Faithful".

Rev: Legend bearing the name and title of Sultan Ḡīāṯ-al-Dīn Kayḵosrow, the Saljuqid of Rūm; in outer margin, in square design, ضرب هذا الدرهم \ سوس في \ سنة تسع \ وثلثين و ستمائة "This dirham was struck at Sivas in the year 639". Inside, السلطان \ الاعظم \ كيخشرو \ بن كيقبد on four lines, "The Greatest Sultan Kaykhushraw b. Kayqubad"

Note: not 100% confident in the date, compare here and here.


Although this coin is from "Seljuks of Rum" - there is still a connection to my primary collecting interest from the Roman Republic. "Rum" is a corruption of Rome, derived from Ῥωμαῖοι (Rhomaioi), as the Seljuk's took possession of territory formerly held by the Byzantine or Roman empire. More on the lion and sun symbol here. Another version of the love story at the David Collection, and another here.


In AD 1240, Baba Ishak a charismatic prophet, stirred a rebellion of the Anatolian Turkmen that ended in 1242 or early 1243.


In the Battle of Köse Dagh near Sivas, on 26 June 1243, Kayḵosrow II, was badly routed by the Mongols. The Mongols were led by general Baiju Noyan appointed by Ögedei Khan the third son of Ghengis Khan. Kayḵosrow II fled to Ankara with his treasury and harem. He died in AD 1245 leaving three young son's and heirs and no strong successor. Initially his 11 year old son took the throne as Kay Ka'us II.

Seljuks, Rum, 'Izz al-Din Kay Ka'us II, first sole reign, AH 643-647 / AD 1245-1249, Dirham, Qunya mint, AH 646 = AD, 1248/9

Seljuks, Rum, 'Izz al-Din Kay Ka'us II, first sole reign, AH 643-647 / AD 1245-1249, Dirham, Sivas, AH 646= 1248/1249

Obv: The Kalimat-aṭ-Ṭayyibah (Word of Purity) and date in ornamental Arabic script within dotted square; rosette between two stars above.

Rev: "Title of Kay Ka'us II" in ornamental Arabic script within dotted square; rosette between two stars above

Ref: Broome 321B


In 1248, his brother, Qilij Arslan IV, favoring submission to the Mongols, rose up against him. All of about 10 years old? he must have had some advisors and regents. And a year later the three brothers were ruling jointly.

Seljuks, Rum, Kay Ka'us II, Qilich Arslan IV & Kay Qubadh II (Joint rule, AH 647-655 / 1249-1257 AD), Dirham

Obv: “no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God, the Imam al-Musta‘sim billah Commander of the Faithful”

Rev: “the Supreme Sultans, Glory of the World and the Faith Kayka’us and Pillar of the World and the Faith Qilij Arslan and Exalted of the World and the Faith Kayqubad ibn Kaykhusraw, Proofs of the Commander of the Faithful”

Ref: Album 1227; ICV 1349.

Size: 3.09g, 22.5mm

Seljuks Rum, Kay Ka'us II, Qilich Arslan IV & Kay Qubadh II (Joint rule, AH 647-655 / 1249-1257 AD), Dirham, Qunya, AH 650 = AD 1252/3

Ref: Broome 334 Av(iv)b. Izmirlier -

Size: 3.00g, 22mm

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