Symbols and Language of Coins of Krim from the Golden Horde Period
by U. P. Lebedev
Go to Lebedev plates

From Numismatic Investigations concerning the History of South-Eastern Europe Moldova (1990), pp. 139-158

The monetary system of the Gold Horde was not uniform in its territories and had a provisional aspect. Outward design, metrological data of coins in the various parts of this huge empire, from Khorezm, Sredni (?), and Lower Polovstia. Krim bordering on lands from the Don to the Danube-has a series of definite borders, especially in the periodof the formation of the Golden Hordee (second half of the 13th century) and its collapse (first half of the 15th century). By studying the special coins of the various regions, one is able to shed light not only on different mercantile-economic relationships, but also some aspects of religious, social, and cultural life of the population of these regions.

The monetary affairs of Krim of the Golden Horde period is the least investigated branch of ancient numismatics. The first and unique publication until our time of the mints of Krim was made by N. P. Likachev1 in 1930, who made photographs of the various types of Krim coins from the Hermitage collection and made drawings of 45 coins, which showed the inscribed year, the name of the khan, and the mint. This article is the basis for the analysis of this review, supplementing published types and series of coins with unpublished coins from the 14th to 15th centuries.

                           Symbols of Coins of the 13th to 15th C
Tamghas (crests). Coins of the Mongol Ulus (region) from the very beginning acquired a Muslin appearance2: the inscriptions were written utilizing the Arabic alphabet, often placing the name of the Baghdad caliph, a pious Muslim saying, keeping the tradition of forbidding graven images. However, these coins were created with a specific quality, introduced by the Mongols, placing on the coins their own special mark-the tamgha. 210 tamghas signs or images are well known for Mongols.3 The first tamghas appear on the coins of Chingisids with marks of a given ruler. By changing the tamgha, the change of ruler is naturally shown. As, for example, on the coins minted in Bulghar had the name of the Great Khan Mongke on which Ariq Boke placed his personal tamgha (fig. 1.1,2).4 First coins of Krim also have contemporary Muslim appearance (fig. 2. 1,2) and on them is also placed the tamgha, but in a special stirrup type (fig 1.3). The time of these coins, writes S. A. Yanina 5 is found at the end of the rule of Baraka (1257-1266); and, if one takes the suggested hypothetical reading by the author of the Arabic legend (Table I..2 ), then the data of the mints determine still more exactly the year 1265. These tamghas do not appear on Juchi coins, consequently it is proper to call this the personal tamgha of Baraka.

In the first year of accession to the khans throne Mangu Timur (1266-1280) minted silver coins in the Krim with his name6 (fig. 2.31) with a new tamgha (fig. 1..4). In 671 AH, this tamgha appears with his name on dirhams of Bulghar,7 but from 678 to 681 AH exist anonymous dirhams from Khorezm and Sarai.8 The new tamgha, which is on the anonymous Bulghar dirhams may be called the main, great tamgha,  later became minted on Krim coins with the name of Tuda Mangu (1280-1286), Tokhta (1290-1312), and Uzbek (1312-1341) in all the mints of the Golden Horde (fig 2.5-7, 13-18, 19-24).

Just as with all the mentioned khans, there appears this tamgha straight through all the descendents of Batu. This, then, is what numismatic literature calls the chief tamgha,  by consensus calling it the tamgha of the house of Batu.  By such examples, on the coins of the Golden Horde at this time the personal name of a given ruler changes to the tamgha, his family crest (house).

In the end of the 13th century, in the Golden Horde, the mints divided into many autonomous units, and often produced aneigraphic coins, as if the compulsory placing of the tamgha of the House of Batu was the unique witness to whom these coins from the mint of the Golden Horde belonged. For a long time already it has been noticed that the graphical representation of the main tamgha was not always strictly of one type, but apparently drawn with more than 15 variants9 (fig. 1.4). Undoubtedly the overwhelming  majority of these variations are conditioned by artistic expression, but some are careless engravings. In this way, different variations of the tamgha are encountered on the coins of one and the same khan (fig. 2.3,4,5,6,15-17, 19-24), and some of the coins of the same type are struck with different engravers (fig. 2.61 a-d).

Among the khans on whose coins is placed the tamgha of the House of Batu, there is none with the name Tula Beg???? (1287-1290). On Bulghar anonymous dirhams minted by him there appears a new tamgha with three stems (fig. 1.5). Krim dirhams of 686-688 AH (fig 2.8,9) have a very distorted inscription, in which no less an authority than A. K. Markov reads the name Tula Beg???.11 This peculiar tamgha on these coins (fig. 1.4k) has not departed much from the canonical form of the tamgha of the House of Batu, although numistatists are nevertheless disposed to assume that the stem from the head appears more like a three-legged tamgha of the Bulghar coins (fig. 1.4k, 5). Such tamghas are produced on anonymous Krim puls (fig. 2.7). On the anonymous dirhams of Khorezm during these years appear the tamgha of Chagatai. 12

Anonymous coins of the Golden Horde of the 80s of the 13th century have new variants and types of tamghas appear, which all investigators relate to the real power in the Horde being in the hands of Black Nogai. Not having the right by birth to be the ruling khan, he, apparently, limited the right of Tula Beg???? to place on his own coins his name and family tamgha. Moreover, Nogai even inscribed coins with his own name and his own tamgha (fig. 1.6), although he did this cautiously: the legend on the coins is written in Greek, minted very early in his dynasty and in very small issues. One well known example of these coins (fig 2.11) was found in a huge group of Krim dirhams dated 683-699 AH in Rimini (?).13

In 690 AH, Nogai killed Tula Beg?? and was proclaimed khan by Tokhta, who soon began to mint dirhams with his own name and restored on the coins from all mints, including even Krim, the tamgha of the House of Batu (fig. 2.13-18). Especially the mint of Krim coppers, not observed in other mints, appears to utilize composite, complex tamghas. For example, an anonymous pul (fig. 2.25) has four tamghas of the House of Batu made in a type of cross (the mint is not established, but it is very well known to the author as an example found in Krim). On subsequent coins14 these four tamghas are joined with one common head (fig. 2.26). This does not exclude that the cruciform image of a complex tamgha reflects some kind of non-Muslim religious tendency in Krim. There are still more interesting combinations of tamghas (fig. 2.12). On coins we see combinations of tamghas of the House of Batu with three-legged tamghas of Nogai (fig. 1.4a,6,8). First, in Juchi mint practice Krim is not called Krin, but Solchat in Arabic. Undoubtedly, the coins issued in this period of strained relations among pretenders for the House of Batu and Nogai in the battle for possession of the Krim, but the city in an original way wanted to inscribe its own loyalty to both quarrelling sides.

After Uzbek, the tamgha of the House of Batu ceased to be placed on Golden Horde coins, just as the reform unifying monetary affairs began and ended with the accession of Janibeg?? (1341-1357), which excluded tamghas as a formal element of coin types. At this time with the death of Nauruz?? (1360) the line of Batu ended in general.

Accompanying Janibeg??s political centralization, the monetary production of provincial mints was reduced. For the period from 1320 until 1375 there is known only one Krim dirham of Nauraz?? dated 760 AH in the Heritage collection.15 Issue of dirhams began again in Krim under Mohammed Bulak (1370-1380) and more or less regularly appear under all the khans from the 11th to the end of the 14th centuries, however the tamghas are not placed on them.

In the period of civil war, 1360-1380, Krim and adjacent territories with mints in Azov, Ordu, Shekr-al Jedid?? introduced inscriptions from the Mamai Horde. In the numerous cities of this region many copper coins were produced without showing the mint place on which again appears images of a type not encountered of earlier variants of the three-legged tamgha16 (fig. 1.9,10; 2.27-20). From which mint they came from is not exactly known, but they are produced in all territories controlled by Mamai, headquarters of which is located in Krim. In this period on coins of Polovstia region of the Golden Horde tamghas are not produced. However there appear tamghas displayed on puls of the Blue Horde (fig 1.2).

The beginning of the 15th century in Krim began with a new ming in Kaffa al-Jedid, and on dirhams of Shadibeg?? (1400-1408) again appears the usually variants of the three-legged tamgha18 (fig. 1.12; 2.31, 32). Similar tamghas (fig. 1.13,14) in the 20s of the 15th century began to be minted on dirhams of Kazan by Ulugh Mohammed (1422-1455).19 Some put them (tamghas) on their own coins, minted in Sarai; and, possibly, Kazan. Ulugh Mohammed (1421-1445), although in Karakhitai??, the White Horde (Hadji-Tarkan, Horde-Bazari?? and all subsequent khans) used completely different tamghas (fig. 1.15).20 Three-legged tamghas from 1421-1445 were placed on Tartar-Genoese coins of Kaffa (fig 2.33-35)/ Variants of such tamghas of Ulugh Mohammed and his son Haji Giray chose a type of ancestral tamgha based on the dynasty of Giray (fig. 1.16) and from the year 845 AH (1441/1442) this tamgha and different variants became the basic element of the Krim khans coins (fig. 2.36).22

Images. Images placed on coins are not types from Muslim culture, and on silver issues of Krim is found only one example of a breach of this tradition (fig. 2.40). However, one copper issue, found in local forms of monetary ciculation does not forbid, apparently, such things and here we observe a wide spectrum of images. Repeatedly on Krim puls is met images of bowmen on a horse, for example, on an anonymous pul of the 13th century (fig. 2.37), and on an anonymous coins of the 14th century (fig. 2.38). In the last example, images of a horseman is able to be considered as a type of spoken  image, appearing as the beginning of a phrase, which ends in Arabic on the other side. On the whole one is able to read Mounted bowman-strength of Krim.  In the 15th century, the horseman with unclear attribution we see again on a follis of Kaffa (fig. 2.39). It is interesting that this, apparently, age-old symbol of the nomad-Mongols and Ghenghis Khan-is completely not met with on Juchi coins of other regions, although well known on Mongol issues of Persia.23
Lion or snow leopard is placed on copper coins of the Golden Horde met with on Krim coin: on silver coins of Tokhta (fig. 2.40) and anonymous puls apparently minted at the end of the 14th century (fig. 2.41).
A group of a few aneigraphic coins of Krim are found, produced at the end of the 13th century with the tamgha of the House of Batu on them, has on the reverse side images of different animals (fig. 2.43-45). The poorly preserved stylized images of animals do not allow us to establish specific associations, but this does not exclude that these calendric animals of the Mongol calendar cycle, appear as the official calendar of the Mongols from 1210.24

The elk with bended legs is imaged on other aneigraphic puls produced in Krim (fig. 2.42). It is well known that in the world view of the Turkish people, the elk plays a special role, and its image (fig. 1.17-20)-a basic motif of ivory faced quivers, found in graves of Lower Polovstia, Northern Caucuses, and the Northern Black Sea.25

Readily placed on coins are images of birds, that is confirmed, for example, by birds of prey on puls of Tokhta, 702 AH (fig. 2.17), stylized birds with open wings on two anonymous puls from the end of the 13th century (fig. 2.49, 50). Completing the bird symbols on coins with images of two-headed eagles, very wide spread in capital issues of the middle 14th century. In Krim is found some types of puls with two-headed eagles, which can be indisputably regarded as the only type of Krim issue, representing in Figure 2.47. A very distorted legend on other coins (fig. 2.46) witnesses to various readings, the latest dated variant reads Issue of Krim of 744 year.  However, this fact, that of many dozens of types of Krim coins, only this one is often met with in excavated material of Bulghar city (13 examples appear among the coins found 1946-1958 according to S. A. Yanina), which compels one to remember the other variant of the inscription proposed by R. R. Fasmer, Issue of Sarai, year 749. 26. This does not exclude the possibility that both variants do not reflect the truth. A third type conditionally regarded as an issue of Krim (fig. 2.48) on the basis of Krim origins of two well known examples by the author and the tamgha with stems on th ehead like Krim coins from the time of Tula Beg?? (fig. 2.8,9). Such copper coins with two-headed eagles were found in Krim monetary circulation of neighboring governments, for example Hulagu?? Puls of Tokhta 751 AH, produced in the region of Azov.27 Modern articles about this popular symbol is in a lengthy work of L. L. Galkin.28

The original symbol of Krim must be the image of the suns face, not met with as a type on other coins of the Golden Horde centers (fig. 2.12,51-53). The source of this, apparently, is found in Little Asis, where it has long been a tradition (for example, in the mint of Sotursk Maritsina?? Image of the sun face lasting from the 11th to the beginning of the 14th century.29

Geometrical Ornamentation. The object of attention in this part will be only the ornamentations, which appear as a basic element of the image. Types of cartouches, which frame the coins field in Golden Horde numismatics does not play a basic role in the determination of coin type as it has in the issues of Chagatai.30

Especially Krim coins, where the ornamentation appears as a basic element of the image is rare. There is a characteristic figure for all types of coins of the whole Golden Horde. On coins of the 13th century it is three-leaf (fig. 2.61), six-pointed star, made with overlapping triangles (fig. 2.8,9,55). In the literature about this figure, in particular reference to the Golden Horde, it signifies the star of Solomon,  however archeological data says that here is displayed a sign of one of the seven heavenly bodies.35 Popular flower rosettes with 6 or 8 leaves (fig. 2.56,57). It is not traditional for coins to have many rayed stars with curved rays (fig. 1.21)32 like the glass beads33 from excavated New Sarai or the décor of the lower fountain of the monastery in Old Krim.34

On the coins of the 14th century with such ornaments which are positively produced in Krim mints only the pul minted at Krim al-Jedid35 on which is imaged a flowery six-pointed star (fig. 2.58). Apparently, from the last quarter of the 14th century to the beginning of the 15th century there was produced a large group of aneigraphic coins, often found in Krim, the Lower Don and Dnepr, and especially produced at the mint of Krim. On them is engraved a flowery rosette with 6-8 leaves (fig. 2.59,62a-b), combined with a three-cornered (fig. 2.62b,d), six-sided figure (fig. 2:60,62).

                                Language of Coin Legends of Krim
Formation by the Mongol government of the steppe part of Eastern Europe was Mongol only in a dynastic sense, appearing in its affairs as Turkish, the language base of the population was historically Neo-Kipchak??.36 At this time popular Persian was spoken in the cities (found on inscriptions of verses on tiles, crockery and Arabic (found in inscriptions on religious things). Mongolian (texts on vessels), in official documents often utilize Mongol language with Urghid letters. On the coins of Ghenghis??, inscribed still by Chinghiz, from the very beginning used Arabic alphabet and language.37

Everything enumerated is especially found fully reflected in the monetary affairs of Krim. And here, with the minting of the first coin came the use of the Arabic alphabet. Legends on the obverse side (fig 2.1) consist of Arabic-Persian title Padishah Islam, come peace and truth  (Table 1.2).  Apparently, the full Persion circling legend on the reverse side, although a generally accepted reading is not established, appears to be: This year of the black cow will be blessed  (Table 1.2). These coins are dated 1265. There are also Persian titles placed on dirhams of 683 AH with his name Tuda-Menghi (fig. 2.6): Padishah Islam Tuda Menghi  (Table 1.4). Stone monuments speak about the widespread use of the Persian language in Krim in the midst of preference for Arabic epigraphy on grave monuments from Eski-Urta?? Near Bashkir??, which reveals some Persian.

Arabic inscriptions of on the coins of Krim of the 13th century are usually united with Muslim citations and mottoes: No god except Allah alone, no companion to him  (fig 2.3; Table 1.5), Allah is sufficient and to him belongs (all) power  (fig 2.6; Table 1.6), Power to god  (fig. 2.6); Table 1.7), Might and success  (figure 2.64; Table 1.8).

Titles of rule on coins establish among themselves a conglomerate of terms of varied origins: Turkish khan  (fig. 2.3), khan (fig. 2.12-24), Arabic sultan  (fig. 2.19-21), judge  (fig. 2.13-18). Aid to peace and truth  (fig. 2.1-2), already recalling the Persian Praise to Islam.e

Technical terms of mint, coin  is given in the majority of times in Arabic darb,  but sometimes in the Persian sikka  (fig. 2.67)

A series of copper coins of the 13th century has Turkish legends. A very early dated pul, 674 AH (fig. 2.65) makes a declaration, establishing the value of copper to silver in Turkish: forty-eight (these coins) to one yarmak 674  (Table 1.9). Similar content in Turkish inscriptions on other coins is (fig. 2.66); forty-eight-to one yarmak (Table 1.10). By yarmak here is understood, apparently, silver coins of the 60's of the 13th century (fig. 2.1,3).

  Placing such varied (inscriptions) for the inhabitants information on the copper coins used in inner, local commerce shows that the Turkish language was still spoken, that the lower strata of society of the Golden Horde consists of Kipchak Turkish speaking people. Duplication of these declaration in other languages on coins at this time do not appear.

More than this, a half century after the mint of Sarai (721 and 726 AH) and New Sarai (under Jani Beg??) issued some series of copper puls with similar declarations for the whole empire also in Turkish language sixteen puls-one dinar. 38

On coins issued in the Turkish language with a pleasing inscription, for example, this will eb a fortunate year  (fig. 2.67; Table 1.10). This coin has one other interesting element, much earlier, uses for example the engraved  image-a fortunate year is not shown with the help of numbers, but by means of the image of a snake-one of the calendric animals of the Mongolian calendar. Subsequently, the data inscribed on coins of this type are separated among the following years: 1259, 1281, 1293. The year 1281 represents the most preferred (numerous).

In the monetary affairs of the Krim region of the Golden Horde, there is a unique example using Greek language for coin legends, this was already referred to on the coins of Azov (fig. 2.11). Inscriptions of the circling legend reads: Prosperity to Nogai  Even on such a well known interesting coin, we should still not prematurely make you go to far reaching conclusions about the reason and meaning of this inscription.

Multilingual coin legends of Krim at the end of the 13th century undoubtedly reflect the varied languages of the inhabitants of this region of the Golden Horde. Regretably, the coins of the 14th century do not give us the possibility of observing the wide-spread tendency of the language situation of the Krim, because just at this time the Golden Horde unfied its monetary affairs. All mints made one type of inscription on dirhams: on the obverse side-the name of the khan with Arabic sounding titles, laqab (religious title), and a blessing, and on the reverse-inscribed information. Deviating from this type in Krim was not frequent, and one concludes it was customary to use the Arabic citations, blessings, and epitaphs. So, on the dirhams of Uzbek is placed the Sunni symbol of Truth (fig. 2.19, 20), but the standard blessing formula names another, His victory gives us glory  (fig. 2.19; Table 1.13). On dirhams of Tokhtamish of the year 786 AH34 in inscribed information supplementing the Arabic sentence: Minted in the city of Krim, May he be preserved from misfortune (Table 1.14).

On copper coins of the 14th to 15th centuries, legends are either generally absent or very short: Pul of Krim  (fig 2.41), Strength of Krim  (fig. 2.38; Table 1.15). The majority of legends of Krim puls of the first quarter of the 15th century (fig. 2.68) includes only Arabic data, writing the writing out the words: Year eight twenty-four  (Table 1.16).


1. N. P. Likachev. Material for the History Russian and Byzantine Seals: Work of the Museum of Paleography. Volume 2, Leningrad, 1930, pp. 114-118.
2. E. A. Davidovich. Monetary Economy of Middle Asia in the 13th Century. Moscow, 1972, p. 118
3. B. Rintohen (French). The Symbols of Property According to the Mongols.  Oriental Archives, 22: number 2-3, Praha, 1954, p. 470.
4. M. Frey. Coins of the Khans of Ulus Juchi or the Golden Horde. Moscow (SPB), 1832, number 1-3.
5. S. A. Yanina. Concerning Coins attributed to Khan Nogai: Materials of Session Appearing in the Congress of 1964. Baku, 1965, p. 169.
6. N. S. Saveliev. Coins of Juchi, Chagatai, Jolairidov, and others Produced in the Golden Horde in the Epoch of Toktamish. Moscow (SPB), 1858, p. 284, No. 491.
7. G. A. Fedorov-Davidov. Horde of Silver Coins of the 13th Century from Bulghar. KSIL. Volume 183, 1986, p. 56.
8. ---. About the Beginning of Mints in Khorezm and Sarai in the End of the 13th Century. Ev. 1961. XIV, p. 69-79.
9. Likachev, op. cit., p. 106, figure 84.
10. S. A. Yanina. Juchi Coins from the Excavation and Collection of a kiev Expedition to Bulghar, Mil. 1954, No 42, p. 430, No. 7.
11. A. K. Markov. Inventory Catalog of Muslin Coins at the Hermitage. Moscow, 1896, p. 443, No. 6.
12. G. A. Fedorov-Davidov. Numismatics of Khorezm of the Golden Horde Period. NE. 1965, p. 180, image 3.
13. O. Illescu and G. Simeon (French). The Great Treasure of Coins and Ingots from the XIII and XIV Centuries.  Review Studies of South-East Europe. II:1-2, p. 225, figure 3, Bucharest, 1964.
14. A. K. Markov., op. cit., p. 505, No. 1590.
15. Ibid., p. 464, No. 540.
16. N. M. Fomichev. Juchi Coins from Azov: Saratov (SA), 1981, No. 3, p. 233. No. 132-134.
17. N. P. Likachev, op.cit., p. 134, figure 116.,18. Ibid., p. 136, figure 118.
19. A. G. Mohamadiev. Bulghar-Tartar Monetary System of XII-XIV Centuries. Volune 20, No. 2-5.
20. Ch. M. Fraehil, Collection of Mohammedan Coins (Latin). Petersberg, 1826, pp. 386-397.
21. O. Petrovski. Tartar-Genoese Coins of Giray. INAK. No 18, 1906, pp. 1-72.
22. O. Retowaki (German). The Coins of Giray. TMHO. T.H. Volume 3, 1901, pp. 240-308.
23. M. A. Seifeddini. Mints and Monetary Organization of Azerbaijan XII-XIV Centuries. Baku.1978, pp.159-165.
24. Calendar Customs and Rites of the People of Eastern Asia. Moscow, 1985, p. 173.
25. N. V. Malinovskaia. Bow Cases of the 13th-14th Centuries with Ivory Facing from the Territory of the Evrazi Steppes: Povolshya City in the Middle Ages. Moscow. 1974, pp. 132-175.
26. S. A. Yanina. General observations about eh Collection of Juchi Coins from the Excavation and Collection of the Kiev Expedition in Bulghar. MIL. 1961, No. 111, p. 156.
27. N. M. Fomichev, op. cit., vol. 3, No. 63.
28. L. L. Galkin. Symbols of Juchi Coins: Problems of Soviet Archeology. Moscow, 1978, pp. 219-224.
29. M. Mitchiner. (English). The World of Islam. London, 1977. No. 1031, 1053, 1071, 1100, 1101.
30. E. L. Davidovich. A Horde of Ancient and Middle Ages Coin of Tajikistan. Moscow, 1979, p. 244.
31. G. A. Fedorov-Davidov. Astrological Amulet from Tsarskovo City: A Polovstian City in the Middle Ages. Pp. 130-131.
32. --------------. Mongol Conquest and the Golden Horde. Moscow, 1989, p. 281.
33. --------------, I. S. Vainer, and A. G. Muhamdiev. Archeological Investigations of Tsarevskovo City. MIL. 1970, No 164, p. 168.
34. O. Dombrovski and V, Sidorenko. Solhat and Serb-Hach. Simferopol. 1978, p. 77.
35. N. M. Fomichev, op. cit., p. 231, No. 67.
36. M. A. Usmanov. Chater and Acts of ?ulus Juchi. Kazan. 1972, p. 102ff.
37. E. A. Davidovich, Monetary Economy..., pp. 10, 16, 115-120.
38. A. G. Muhadiev, op. cit., p. 71-78.
39. P. S. Saveliev, op. cit., p. 308-310.