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Identification Guide to Islamic Golden Horde Dangs

John Conduitt

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This isn’t really a post, but a basic reference (in four parts) to a rather niche area of collecting 🤣

Identifying coins in an unfamiliar, stylised script is not easy. Late Golden Horde dirhams (or Ulug Ulus dangs if you prefer) are such coins if, like me, you don’t speak Arabic or Persian. They adhere to Islamic aniconism, so there are no images. The key reference is out of print and in Russian. Since there’s not much help out there I created a sort of cheat sheet for myself, and I thought I’d post it in case anyone else has one they'd like to check.

I’ve written before about the early Golden Horde, after Genghis Khan. Those early coins (and some of the very last) feature tamgas, or clan symbols, which make it much easier to identify khans such as Batu, Berke, Mengu Timur, Tuda Mengu, Töle Buqa and Tokhta. Tamgas are also on the anonymous issues from Bulghara and Bilyara, like the one below. There’s even a handy set of tamga tables.

Bulgar Anonymous Dang from the time of Muhammad Öz Beg Khan, 1327-1328

Bulgara. Silver, 1.30g. Obverse: Tamga of Batu's house, ‘knot of happiness’ below, decorations at the sides. Reverse: Struck in / Bulghar / 728 (Zeno 286649).

But after the Golden Horde adopted Islam under Muhammad Öz Beg (Uzbek) Khan (1313-1341), the coins lost their tamgas. From that point, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re all the same. To be fair, almost all of them feature an obverse inscription along the lines of “Just Sultan, So-and-So Khan, Long May He Reign” and the reverse “Struck in Somewhere City, Year 123”. This formula makes identification slightly easier than impossible.

Before I go any further, I should point out that there are a lot of similar coins struck by several related groups in the region, particularly other Mongols. Golden Horde coins tend to be simpler, with fewer words and a larger script, but it might be worth becoming a little familiar with other styles to make sure you need to be here at all:


There’s also the Eastern Horde, a breakaway khanate from the western Golden Horde. Confusingly, the Eastern Horde is sometimes called the Blue Horde or the White Horde, while the Western Horde is called the White Horde or the Blue Horde, depending on whether the source is European or Russian. I’ve only listed Western Horde (or combined Golden Horde) coins. The Eastern Horde coins are distinguished by their mints and khans, which often overlap.

Back to the Golden Horde. There are three things to identify. The date, the mint and the khan, although any of these could be missing. The pages below give examples to help identify silver dangs. Copper pulos are a different matter, and often anonymous, although they’re also often pictorial, and so easier to find on Zeno.ru.

When citing Golden Horde coins, collectors usually refer to an example on Zeno.ru (organized by mint) or Sagdeeva 'Серебряные монеты Золотой Орды' (2005) (organized by khan, and replicated to some extent on Numista). You can also find them in Stephen Album’s Checklist of Islamic Coins, but without images, it isn’t easy. In any event, don’t expect to find an exact match (or even close to exact) in any reference.

Part I (Dates)
Part II (Mints)
Part III (Khans)

Edited by John Conduitt
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