Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Coin of Hotaki Afghans


General information


The Hotaki or Ghilzay Afghan Shahs of Iran, 1135-1169 H/1722-1755 AD

Ruler and dates

Mahmud Shah ibn Mir Ways, (1135-1137 H/1722-1725 AD)

Mint name

Isfahan – in the province of Jibal


1135 H (1722-1723 AD)AD)

Metal and denomination

Gold ashrafi AD)

Weight and measurement

3.27 g / 21.5 mm

Legend and Design



la ilah illa allah / muhammad / rasul allah / 1135
“no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God, 1135”



faru rawad / bi-zamin mah-u aftab-i munir / za rashk-i / sikka-yi mahmud shah-i ‘alamgir / darb isfahan
“the moon and shining sun came down to earth out of envy of the coin of Mahmud Shah, World Conqueror, struck Isfahan”

Historical Note

The disastrous summer of 1135 H (1722 AD) began when Mahmud ibn Mir Ways and his Sunni Afghan troops marched on the city of Isfahan. They planned to seize it from the Safawid Shah Sultan Husayn, who refused to negotiate with Mahmud and had no intention of abdicating.

The Afghans began by establishing a bridgehead. They were then able to link up the army contingents based in the east and north of the city, which made it impossible for the inhabitants of Isfahan to enter or leave without risk.

Living conditions became increasingly difficult as it was impossible for supplies of food to reach the city. Mahmud made things much worse by ordering that the crops in the land surrounding Isfahan were to be destroyed. People were dying of starvation and disease, the dead could not be buried and the living were unable to escape.

Finally, on 1 Muharram 1135 (12 October 1722) Shah Sultan Husayn announced his abdication and the transfer of power to Mahmud. Two days later Mahmud entered Isfahan in triumph, and was acknowledged by the assembled dignitaries, viziers and nobles as Shah Sultan Husayn’s successor.

Mahmud’s rule only lasted until 1137 (1725), but its imposition was very unpopular in Iran. The people found it deeply humiliating to be ruled by foreigners, and they considered the Afghans’ form of Sunni Islam to be not only heretical, but a direct threat to their Iranian identity.

Mahmud was succeeded by his cousin Ashraf, who ruled in Iran until he was ousted by the Afsharid leader Nadir Shah in 1142 (1729).

When they saw this coin, struck as soon as Shah Sultan Husayn had been dethroned, the people of Isfahan must have been appalled by the presence of the Sunni kalima on its obverse. As with many other coins of the time the reverse bears a distich whose words would have been equally offensive to them with their praise of the “world conqueror” Mahmud Shah.

Source: http://www.davidmus.dk/en/collections/islamic/dynasties/safavids/coins/c204?show=comment

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