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Years of the Khani calendar on the coins of Ilkhans (Hulaguids)

Ilkhanids, or Hulaguids were the Mongols of Persia: the descendants of Hulagu, grandson of Genghis Khan; their dynasty ruled the Near and Middle East from the mid-13th to mid-14th centuries. Rulers of the Ilkhanate (Hulaguid state) bore the title ilkhan. According to Zeno.ru [1], coins of these rulers were minted in 654–758 A.H., i.e. ≈1256–1357 A.D.

The Khani calendar (a.k.a. Khānī calendar, ilkhani calendar, al-khānī sana, abbreviated as kh) is the solar calendar invented by the Īlkhāns and based on year one commencing in 701 Hijri. Dates according to this system could be found on some Ilkhan coins during the reign of Abu Sa'id and, partly, after his reign.

Thus, the 33rd khani year corresponds to 734/735 A.H. (≈ 1334–1335 A.D.), the 34th year 735/736 A.H. (≈ 1335–1336 A.D.), the 35th 736/737 A.H. (≈ 1336–1337 A.D.) etc.

The zero point of ilkhani calendar is Rajab 01, 701 A.H. (according to another reference, that was Rajab 13, 701 A.H.; while Diler Ömer [5] specifies Rajab 13, 701 A.H./March 13 (20), 1302 A.D.). Anyway, this date is in the reign of Mahmud Ghazan (Ghāzān Maḥmūd) (lived: 1271–1304 A.D.). Dates of the ilkhani calendar could be found on certain coins of the 9th ruler of the Hulaguid state Abu Sa'id (lived: 1305–1335 A.D.) as khani 33 and khani 34.

In contrast to the modern coins, Ilkhans didn't use numerals to write khani dates, but they formulated dates by words, instead. The date is generally located on the margins of the coin.

According to [5] (Volume 1 of 2, pages 30–32), the following ways of writing numerals were used to indicate dates on the coins of Ilkhans:

writing of numerals used to indicate khani dates

Let's take a look at the sample below taken from [5]:

example of writing the date on the coins of Ilkhans

Words related to the date are placed along the coin's margin starting from the top and then counterclockwise (i.e.: top → left → bottom → right):

struck in the year | three | and thirty | of khani (ضُرب في سنة | ثلاثة | وثلاثين | الخانية).

Now that we're done with theory, let's take a look at a real coin:

6-dirhams coin, Abu Sa'id design @ type H, place of minting: Bazar, khani year: 33    6-dirhams coin, Abu Sa'id design @ type H, place of minting: Bazar, khani year: 33

This is a silver coin, denomination is 6 dirhams, actual measured mass is 8.56 g; design type H, (design types for all applicable rulers of the Hulaguid state could be found in the source [6]), ilkhan Abu Sa'id, mint location: Bazar, year 33 of khani (734/735 A.H. ~ 1334–1335 A.D.).

In this case, text with the date is divided in a bit different way, i.e.: struck in | year three | and thirty | of khani.

The text relating to the place of minting is located within the two horizontal lines between the so-called knots of happiness: above center  ضرب  (struck), and below center  بازار  (Bazar).

Catalogue ID: Album (3rd edition, 2011): 2217 (page 236).

Coins of the same type as analyzed above (i.e.: Abu Sa'id, type H, 6 dirhams, minted in Bazar) could be found on the Zeno web-site via this link.

The typology of relations between the obverse and reverse of the coins of specifically examined ruler, Abu Sa'id (taken from the source [6]) is shown on the illustration below:

Abu Sa'id coin design types

 * * * 


1. The Ilkhans section on Zeno.ru, where all known types of the Ilkhans' coins are provided.

2. Page from the Altaycoins web-site that explains ways how coins of the Ilkhans could be dated (NB: registration is required to get access to this web-site).

3. Archived version of the page http://mehmeteti.150m.com/ilkhanids/hpags-pa.htm, where Ilkhan coins dating is also mentioned.

4. Stephen Album, Checklist of Islamic Coins, 3rd edition, 2011. Coins of Ilkhans are described there in the section called ILKHANS (MONGOLS OF PERSIA) (HULAGUID), on pages 228–242.

5. The well-known two-volume edition by Diler Ömer (19452005) Ilkhans Coinage of the Persian Mongols (2006).

6. Types of coin designs for different Ilkhani rulers (the page from the web-site altaycoins.com).

7. ABŪ SAʿĪD BAHĀDOR KHAN (article with a brief biography of Ilkhan Abu Sa'id, from the web-site iranicaonline.org + relevant bibliography).

This article was published on April 02nd, 2024.

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