Dinar (gold coin)
National Museum of Damascus
Hegira 649 / AD 1251
ع ر 5354
Diameter 2.3 cm, weight 3.17 g
A Crusader coin, with the value of a dinar as it is made of gold. Although the Crusaders came as counter-Islamic warriors, they also settled in the region and engaged in commerce quite extensively. In order for their coins to have value and be recognisable within the market economy, they minted coins similar to the ones found in the region and inscribed their minting in Arabic. This coin follows a Fatimid prototype. Its inscription is arranged in three concentric circles. It was minted in Acre in AD 1251 (AH 649), during the rule of King Louis IX (d. AD 1270), the King of France who led the 7th and 8th crusades. The minting of these coins was instigated by the arrival of a new papal legislator to the Latin states in the spring of 1250 who considered it blasphemous to use coins containing the names of the Muslim prophets and the ruling caliphs. He immediately forbade their minting, replacing them with coins portraying Christian symbolism written in deliberate but faulty Arabic language.
The following Arabic inscriptions are recorded on the coin in naskhi script:
Middle – the phrase “God is one” is written, although the Arabic word for God (Ilah) is misspelled.
Inner Ring – “The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”
Outer Ring – “Minted in Acre in the year one thousand two hundred and fifty one, our Lord became incarnate.” This phrase is followed by a cross flanked by two dots.
Middle – In the middle of a circle is a cross with dots in opposite quadrants; the upper left and lower right.
Inner Circle – There is a small cross flanked by a pair of dots on each side, located in proximity to the cross in the middle circle. The inscription reads, “Our resurrection, our salvation is in Him, protect us”.
Outer Circle – On the perimeter is an unclear form of a cross with one dot on each side, then the phrase “We are proud of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, in Him is our peace”.
Note that a number of the words are misspelled and the text has numerous linguistic errors, which makes it difficult to read.
This gold coin, known as a dinar, was minted by the Crusader settlers in Acre. To maintain economic viability the Crusaders minted coins in the Islamic numismatic style, following the Fatimid prototype of Arabic inscriptions arranged in three concentric circles, with the addition of a central cross.
The inscription on the face of the coin specifies the date (1251).
Purchased in 1948.
The inscription on the face of the coin specifies that it was minted in Acre.
Delpont, E. (ed), L'Orient de Saladin: l'art des Ayyoubides, Paris, 2001, p.105; fig. 84.
Mona al-Moadin "Dinar (gold coin)" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;sy;Mus01;43;en
Prepared by: Mona Al-Moadin
Translation by: Hilary Kalmbach (from the Arabic)
Translation copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez
Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.
True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.
MWNF Working Number: SY 70
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)Al-Franj: the Crusaders in the Levant | Pilgrimage to the Holy Land
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