Name of Object:

Coin (dirham)


London, England, United Kingdom

Holding Museum:

The British Museum

About The British Museum, London

Date of Object:

Hegira 646–7 / AD 1248–9

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):



Diameter 2.2 cm

Period / Dynasty:

Anatolian Seljuq


Sivas, central Anatolia, Turkey.


A silver dirham coin, weighing 2.74g, struck at Sivas in Turkey in the name of Qilij Arslan IV (Kılıç Arslan IV, r. AH 646–54 / AD 1248–57). On the obverse is the ruler's name: 'The very great Sultan Izz al-Dunya wa'l-Din Qilij Arslan son of Kaykhusraw Companion of the Commander of the Faithful'. This inscription surrounds a depiction of a mounted archer, similar to a Mongol issue of the Great Khan Ulush Beg (AH 642–3 / AD 1244–5). The Seljuqs paid an annual tribute to their nominal overlords the Mongols. On the reverse of the coin, is the caliph's name, inscribed: al-Musta'sim, the last of the Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad. This is an unusual example of an Islamic coin, given that figurative representation on coins was relatively rare in the Islamic world.

View Short Description

This silver dirham bears the name of Rukn al-Dunya wa’l-Din, Qilij Arslan IV, who ruled Seljuq Anatolia from AH 646 to 654 / AD 1248–57. Its design of a horse and rider is rare and is derived from a Mongol prototype.

How date and origin were established:

The coin is dated 646–7 (1248–9).

How Object was obtained:

Acquired in 1853.

How provenance was established:

The coin was minted at Sivas, central Anatolia, Turkey.

Selected bibliography:

Lane-Poole, S., Catalogue of Oriental Coins in the British Museum, Vol. I–X, London, 1875–90 (no. 1877, cat. no. 216: a coin of the same mint).

Porter, V., Mightier than the Sword. Arabic Script: Beauty and Meaning, exhibition catalogue, Australia, 2003 (p.27, cat. no. 16n: a coin of the same mint).

Porter, V., Mightier than the Sword. Arabic Script: Beauty and Meaning, exhibition catalogue, Malaysia, 2004 (p.112, cat. no. 38n: a coin of the same mint).

Citation of this web page:

Emily Shovelton "Coin (dirham)" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2022.;ISL;uk;Mus01;20;en

Prepared by: Emily ShoveltonEmily Shovelton

Emily Shovelton is a historian of Islamic art. She studied history of art at Edinburgh University before completing an MA in Islamic and Indian art at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. Since graduating she has worked on a number of projects at the British Museum. Other recent work includes editing and writing for a digital database of architectural photographs at the British Library. She is currently working on a Ph.D. on “Sultanate Painting in 15th-century India and its relationship to Persian, Mamluk and Indian Painting”, to be completed at SOAS in 2006. A paper on Sultanate painting given at the Conference of European Association of South Asian Archaeologists, held in the British Museum in July 2005, is due to be published next year.

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: UK1 24


 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period

Seljuqs (Anatolian)

On display in

MWNF Galleries

Calligraphy Coins and Medals


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