Coins Issued By Agha Muhammad Khan Qajar
Qajar, 1210-11 H/1795-96 CE
Materials and technique
Various dimensions; weights ranging from approximately 80 to 400 grams
These six presentation coins were struck in either 1795 CE or 1796 CE under the reign of Agha Muhammad Shah (r. 1794-97 CE), the founder of the Qajar dynasty. Some of the coins, including one that is square-shaped, contain inscriptions with invocations to God, Muhammad, and 'Ali, the Prophet’s cousin and the first Shia imam. Others exhibit figural images such as the peacock, a symbol associated with royalty in Iran but also with Paradise, or the lion and sun, both well-recognised symbols of kingship and authority in Iran since pre-Islamic times. One of the coins contains a pearl border, a motif that also stems from pre-Islamic, in particular Sasanian, imagery. It is possible that the coins struck in 1210 H celebrated the coronation of the king, while those struck in 1211 H commemorated his first anniversary of rulership. These massive gold coins formed part of the indemnity of 5 krur or 2,500,000 tomans paid by Iran to the Russians under the Treaty of Turkmanchai, in 1928 CE, following a disastrous war. 5 krur would have weighed over two metric tons and contemporary reports state that it took some 1600 mules to carry the specie. The treaty also ceded the Khanates of Erivan and Nakhichvan to Russia in perpetuity as well as forbidding Iran to have any armed vellels in the Caspian Sea.
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