A Chinese Cash-type Coin
with Arabic Inscriptions

Vladimir Belyaev
August 14, 2000

Diameter: 23.1 mm
Weight: 6.2 g

Diameter: 22.5 mm
Weight: 4.1 g
The only publication of this coin I could find was: V.N.Nastich. Monetnye nakhodki iz Kazakhstana i Kirgizii ('Coin Findings from Kazakhstan and Kirghizia'), - in: Vtoraia Vsesoiuznaia Numizmaticheskaia Konferentsiia (the 2nd All-Russian Numismatic Conference. Abstracts of papers and communications), Moscow, 1987, pp. 52-53.
Dr. Nastich wrote: These mysterious coins, cast to the shape of Chinese cash but with Kufi inscriptions placed against the four sides of a square hole, take their origin from Talghar, Burana and other ancient sites of Semirechye. All the five specimens known to me of this type bear the same inscriptions with various graphic distortions and casting defects, which can be read as follows [recent Dr. Nastich's ideas about possible reading are added - V.B.] :
at top [malik],
at right [aram | azar | uzar ?],
at bottom [yinal],
at left or [cig ?].
Judging by the topography of findings, this issue can be correlated with some Turk rulers of Semirechye; it is not improbable that it belongs to the so-called 'proto-Qarakhanid' coins (the term also suggested by Dr. Nastich) issued before the statement of traditional 'Muslim' design of Qarakhanid coins. Based on the paleography of the inscriptions, these coins can be dated back to the 10th century AD'.

Below are enlarged photos of the coin inscriptions:

A message from Dr.T.D.Tjong (23.08.2000):
    In a recent paper from the Deutsches Archaologisches Institut L.Baratova mentions1 the following about these coins:

    Proto-Qarakhanid coins

    The first coins of this type were found in Zolpak-Tepe2 settlement (mentioned by T.Senigova, 1972). This was later followed by the discoveries from Talgar (near Alma-Ata) and Krasnaia Rechka (near Bishkek).
    Dr. Nastich has studied five specimens from Semirechye and identified the kufic words malik, aram and yinal.
    According to Goriacheva3, these proto-Qarakhanid coins should be dated to the 10th century and they were made in the style of the Turgesh coins. Their area of distribution included the Chu and Talas valleys'.
    Another specimen from Taraz is preserved in the State Museum of State Museum of Kazachstan4.

  1. L.Baratova. _____ - in: Archaologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan, Band 31, 1999, S. 238-239.
  2. T.N. Senigova. Srednevekovyi Taraz, Alma-Ata, 1972, p.142, fig.21.
  3. V.D. Goriacheva Gorod zolotogo verbliuda, Frunze, 1988, p.92.
  4. KP 762b (acquired in the 1960-s).

According to A.Kamyshev's latest communication from Bishkek, kindly delivered to me by Dr. Nastich, more specimens have been found in Kirghizia by the present day. One of them is shown below:

Diameter: 23.2 x 24.5 mm
Weight: 3.7 g

Any additional information will be highly appreciated.
Chinese Coinage Web Site