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The Eretnid Beyliks


This Islamic coin captured my interest with it's unusual highlight of "lillah" in an eye shape with dots from the 14th century (Note: lillah (لله) literally "for Allah") . It is a nearly perfect strike and centering, elegant script including a beautifully executed and decorated "Muhammad" in Kufic script, clear mint and date.


This map from Philip Remler's article on these coins shows the location where this coin comes from in eastern Anatolia.

“The Eretnids have been regarded by some scholars as one of the Anatolian beyliks, but they were of Mongol origin and struck coins according to Ilkhan patterns.” (Album)


In the turbulent years following the death of Ilkhan Abu Sa'id in AH 736, Eretna, an Ilkhanate governor, turned to the Mamluks for support, minting coins referencing Al-Nasir, and eventually declared himself an independent Supreme Sultan.


"Eretna Uyghür, founder of the Eretnid dynasty, was the Mongol lieutenant-governor in Anatolia from 1314 to 1335 and governor there for the puppet Ilkhāns controlled by Hasan-i Buzurg Jaläyir from 1335-42. Between AH 742 and 746/AD 1341-46 Eretna minted coins both in his own name and in those of various Mongol khāns. In 747 he began to issue coins in his own name only." (Remler)


"As chief civilian Mongol official in Anatolia Eretna struck coins of types standard throughout the empire. Certain of these types, occurring in Anatolian mints, are prototypes for later beylic coinage." (Remler)

'Alā al-Dīn 'Alï (Ali Beg) (767-782 AH / CE 1366-1380) grandson of Eretna, appears to have become sultan at the age of seventeen. He was the last Eretnid sultan.

Obv: In square inside looped square

lā ilāha illā Allāh (There is no God but God)

Muhammad

rasūl Allah (is the Messenger of God)

In loops of square:

Abū Bakr/'Umar/'Uthman/'Ali (the first four caliphs, "rightly guided" because they learned directly from Muhammad)


Rev: In octafoil.

al-sultān al-a'zam ("Supreme Sultan")

'alā al-dunyā wa'l-dïn ("Exalted of the World and the Faith"

khallada Allāh mulkahu ("May His rule be everlasting")

(mint) نهر Çemiskezek

(date in numerals) ٧٦٨ 768

The Reference Coin shown is from Remler Plate 19 coin 16.

"'Ali's looped square has as its prototype the motif of his grandfather, Eretna, which in turn goes back to the Abü Sa'id Type III. Similarly, the octafoil likewise goes back to the Ilkhān Sulaymãn Type II and before that to the Abū Sa'īd Type XII. Known dates for 'Ali's coins are AH 767 and 768. Sometime in 768 the word Allah in the phrase "khallada Allāh mulkahu" ("May His rule be everlasting") was enclosed in an eye-shaped group of dots. That this symbol had some significance is shown by 'Ali's practice of counter-stamping his older coins with the same symbol." (Remler) Here are four examples of these counter-marked coins from my collection.


'Alā al-Dīn 'Alï (Ali Beg) (767-782 AH / CE 1366-1380) - Album 2324A AR akçe 1.61g, countermarked lillah in eye-shaped frame on earlier type of the same ruler. The fourth example seems to have a two sided countermark (both sides of coin) and all are struck over this coin with at least one mint variant and some other minor variations.


Sources:

The false countermark along with the false date (the example shown is 728, pre-dating Abū Saʿīd’s reign, appears to be intended to fool a trader into thinking that Abū Saʿīd’s coins have been in circulation longer than they actually were and the countermark validated the coin for circulation by the current ruler. The rationale for the ruse is a shortage of silver from trade with Europe that came during the 7th/13th century and the first decades of the 8th/14th century. The Cilician port of Ayas was a source of Silver for Sivas (and from there Erzincan and Tabriz for trade in Chinese and Indian goods), a source that closed after the Mamlūk sultanate in acquired Ayas in 1337.

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