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A really sweet fals of Kilwa


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I've been promising @AnYangMan that I would post this coin on this forum, vis. the old one, for, Yipes, a year and a half.  https://www.cointalk.com/threads/a-fantastic-fals-of-kilwa.381450/  

Sorry, @AnYangMan.  The best I can do, under prevailing circumstances, is just to copy and past the initial post.

@FitzNigel, along with other justly esteemed members of the forum, has recently posted a typically erudite and illuminating article and thread on this very issue, and its context:
But since this example was very kindly offered to me by @AnYangMan, it seemed appropriate to post it as a separate thread, in tribute to his no less remarkable combination of expertise and magnanimity. ...I would’ve taken too long to find a (probably much) worse example.


Sultanate of Kilwa. al-Hasan b. al-Sulayman, c. 715 AH /1315 CE. AE fals. Album 1183. (Of which I only have the second edition in print; @AnYangMan alerted me to the fact that Steve Album has made the third edition available for free download from his website.)
I really need to quote @AnYangMan’s remarkably thorough, erudite and insightful description and commentary (and this is leaving out his remarks on the unusual double borders):

“The inscription is quite neat. Nothing overly fancy or long lists of titles, but clear and to the point. And what is also fascinating is that the name of the Sultan (in this case Al-Hasan Bin Sulayman) rhymes with the name/epithet given to Allah on the reverse. On this coin it is (R-L):

الحسن بن Al-Hasan Ibn (Al-Hasan, son of)

سليمان Sulayman (Sulayman)

عز نصره Azza Nasra (may his victory increase, this last line is a bit skewed)

“And on the rev in three lines (there is a four line variety as well):

يثق Yathiq (trusts)

بالواحد Bi’l-Wahid (In the One)

المنان Al-Mannan (the bountiful)

“The modern Arabic of course doesn't match the Medieval calligraphy perfectly, but I think you can see whats going on when you put the coin and these next to eachother!

“You can also see how the name of the Sultan rhymes with the title of Allah given: Sulayman – Mannan. On different coins of different rulers, this still holds true, each time a different one of the many names of god in the Islamic tradition is given. On coins of Al-Husayn Ibn Ahmad for example he is called ‘The eternal’ (Samad), etc. And they say Islamic coinage is boring just because it doesn’t have any imagery!”

Between @FitzNigel’s article, and @AnYangMan ’s commensurate erudition, there’s only this to contribute. (Unless otherwise noted, from Wikipedia. --Except, from articles that at least cite references.) Thanks, @FitzNigel, for pointing out that, for this part of the world, the Arab slave trade was largely curtailed as early as the later Abbasid caliphate (9th c. CE). I have to like how, for Kilwa itself, resumption of this on any scale had to wait until the Portuguese conquest in the 16th century.
Here’s one part of the interior of the extension of the Great Mosque of Kilwa, attributed in part to al-Hasan --although earlier extensions are dated to the 12th c. CE. (From Wikimedia Commons.)


I like how the arches are subtly pointed, echoing the Islamic influence on Gothic architecture from the 12th century. Here’s a cool article on the mosque: https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Kilwa_Kisiwani
Apart from that, al-Hasan was a contemporary of Mansa Musa of the empire of Ghana, at the opposite end of, thank you, a large continent. Both made the hajj (/pilgrimage) to Mecca in the early 14th c. CE, and both were known for their generosity. --Mansa Musa’s had a dramatic effect on the Egyptian economy, causing widespread deflation --for one, a dramatic drop in the price of slaves. (From a Catalan map, c. 1375; Wikimedia Commons: )


Rewind a little, to the early 13th century. Western sources record a comparably arduous pilgrimage, by a king of one of the Christian Nubian kingdoms in modern Sudan. Here’s an account from Phillips, The Fourth Crusade (Viking, 2004), citing and eventually quoting Robert of Clari, a participant and chronicler.
“During the crusaders’ stay in Constantinople they came across people from lands they had never previously known. One day when the nobles were visiting the emperor [Isaak III], the king of Nubia arrived at the palace. Robert of Clari reported some curiousity about his black skin -- as a northern Frenchm[a]n, he was unlikely to have met individuals from the lands below Egypt [...]. Prince Alexius [soon to be III] gave the king a full and formal welcome, as befitted a royal visitor, and introduced him to the crusader nobles. Through interpreters they learned that the king had come to Constantinople as a pilgrim. He claimed that his own lands were 100 days’ journey beyond Jerusalem and that when he started out he had 60 companions; 50 [...] had perished on the way to [Jerusalem] and now only one remained alive. After visiting Constantinople this intrepid man wanted to go to Rome, then on to Santiago di Compostela in northern Spain before returning to Jerusalem to die [...]. In all respects they were impressed with this visitor and, as Robert of Clari commented, ‘they gazed at this king with great wonder.’”

(P. 192 and notes.) ...One might be tempted to suppose that European history included a phase which effectively predated racism in any modern, post-colonial, ideologically or pseudo-scientifically formalized sense.  Another reason tohang out in the Middle Ages.
Here’s a map of the Christian kingdoms of Nubia, from Wikimedia Commons.

MAPS, Christian_Nubia.jpg
Ruffini, in Medieval Nubia: A Social and Eonomic History (Oxford UP, 2012), notes the pronounced uptick in conlict between Nubians and Ayyubid Egypt from the accession of Saladin in 1171, “mark[ing] the end of several centuries of reasonably peaceful relations [...]” (249). He tentatively identifies the king in Rober of Clari’s account with Moses George of Nobadia /Nobatia, who “disappears from the records [by name] in the 1190s,” but who may have “followed the example of several of his predecessors and left the throne in search of monastic, or at least pious, retirement” (251).

You’re cordially invited to post anything African and/or Islamic, or whatever else is relevant. --Regarding which, You get to be judge and jury! The more expansive, the better.
Last edited: May 30, 2021
+VGO.DVCKS, May 30, 2021Report#1+ QuoteReply


Edited by JeandAcre
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Arabia, Sulayhid. Ali b. Muhammad, 439-473 H (AD 1047-1081). Debased AV Dinar (22mm, 2.26g). Local imitation, immobilized issue of 451 H, Zabid(?) mint. Ref: Album 1075.3; cf. ICV-1103 (for prototype). Very Fine. Note from a 2018 Stephen Album lot: "Probably struck locally in Yemen, perhaps by the Hamdanids of San'a".


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@DLTcoins, Wow.  Many thanks for the link.  As you were broadly (and, I can't doubt, knowingly) implying, previous sea routes include Rome to, what, at least South (if not Southeast) Asia; and Aksum (thank you, nearer Kilwa) to South Asia and, perhaps via intermediate stages, China.  

Edited by JeandAcre
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49 minutes ago, JeandAcre said:

@DLTcoins, Wow.  Many thanks for the link.  As you were broadly (and, I can't doubt, knowingly) implying, previous sea routes include Rome to, what, at least South (if not Southeast) Asia; and Aksum (thank you, nearer Kilwa) to South Asia and, perhaps via intermediate stages, China.  

I was thinking of Muslim trade routes in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean linking Arabia, Persia, East Africa, India and Indonesia. A ship bound toward Indonesia would not have to stray particularly far off course to skirt northwestern Australia.

Edited by DLTcoins
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This also reminds me of Ryan Wilkinson's article in ANJ 32, "Identifying Ancient Coins Deposited with Modern Ships’ Ballast: A Problem for Distribution Studies?", where he shows this Antoninus Pius Sestertius found by his grandfather on the shore of Puget Sound, Seattle (Washington State).



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