Some hints to be learned about
legends of Ilkhanid coins, other than Arabic, there are also Mongolian lines
written with two different scripts, Uighur and hP'ags-pa. Although both of
these scripts are written vertically from top to bottom and from left to
right, just for the sake of harmony with Arabic lines, in the following pages, Mongolian legends also have been
placed horizontally, from right to left. I think,
the engravers have thought the same way, because the original lines on the coins
also are horizontal and from right to left, except hP'ags-pa. Uighur lines
forms of the original script, 90o clockwise.
already are round objects, so it does not matter too much.
Mongolian alphabet for Uighur script have 23 basic letters ( 7 vowels and
16 consonants) plus some other letters to stand for foreign words. By
order of Genghis Khan (Chinggis Khaan), this writing system for the Mongol
tongue was instituted in 1204. Mongols
adopted it from Uighur Turks and Uighurs from Sogdians.
Uighur Script, also known as Old Script, Mongol Script, Script Mongolian,
or Classical Mongolian, is an alphabetic script written vertically from top to
bottom with lines progressing from left to right (All
other vertical writing systems are written from right to left.). In Uighur Script, the pen should write a continuous line, for
the most part, from the beginning to the end of the word. A continuous baseline runs vertically with the majority of
lines and loops sticking out to the left as the word progresses downward.
alphabet is reasonably accurate with respect to the representation of
consonants, but fails to distinguish several vowels. It
has survived numerous attempts at replacement and is still used in Mongolia, as
well as Mongol inhabited territories controlled by China and Russia, today.
Among Inner Mongolians in China, old Uighur script remains the actual writing
system, while Mongolians from other regions primarily use Cyrillic letters but
often learn this script as part of their cultural heritage.
Let's take these coins
Let's look at the coins #1 and #2. These are the reverse sides.
They bear five lines of Uighur inscription. All lines are the same except
the middle one. This line is spared for the ruler's name. #1 is
of Abaqa and #2 belongs to Ahmad Teguder. Let us take the second
one. Mongolian legends written with Uighur script, line by line, from top
to bottom, read:
As a whole:
It means "(this coin) has been struck in the name of qaghan
On some coins, the ruler's name has been written with Arabic
characters too, in addition to Uighur. Look at the #3. Here, as the fifth
line at the bottom, we read " ﻥﻮﻏﺭﺍ
" "Argun" in addition to ""
"Argun-un" in the middle line.
we look at #4 below, we meet a different example. This is one of Ghazan
Mahmud's coins. Let's put aside the legends at the edges left and right for now.
At the third line we read his name with Arabic characters "Ghazan
The different aspect in this legend is at
the first and second lines. They read " tengriyin
" and " kuchundur ", which means "by the power of God".
line is " Ghazanu ", Ghazan's name in Mongolian. Alltogether:
If we take the Arabic line out, it reads so:
It means, "By the power (strength) of God (Heaven) (This coin) has been struck
In some gold coins we meet the word "" "arighu" which means "pure".
Sometimes on some coins of Taghay
Timur and Sulayman Khan, we
see the words " "
"sultan adil", which means "the just sultan".
On some coins " "
has been written as ""
and "" as "".
The names of different rulers
in Uighur script.
The syllables at the end
of some names like "u, un, yin" are genitive
case markers for the meaning "of".
hP'ags-pa script (Phagspa,
During the reign of Khubilai Khan (1260-1294) the old Uighur-based script was used
throughout the Mongolian empire for some sixty years since Genghis Khan time.
The Uighur script was not much suitable to represent the sounds of
neither Mongolian nor the other languages spoken in the empire, like Chinese.
Khubilai Khan hoped that a new script would overcome the problems
associated with the old script. So, in
script was created by the Tibetan Monk hP'ags-pa Lama,
at the Khubilai Khan’s order. In spite of
all efforts of Khubilai Khan, the new alphabet could not receive wide acceptance.
Mongolian and Chinese officials proved reluctant to learn and use the new
script. hP'ags-pa script
only to a limited extent during Yuan dynasty. Khubilai Khan's dream of a single
unified national script used throughout his empire by all peoples simply refused
to come true. After the collapse of
the Yuan dynasty in 1368, the Chinese abandoned the foreign script, whilst the
Mongolians competely reverted to the earlier Uighur-based script.
hP'ags-pa script is still used to a limited extent as a decorative script for writing Tibetan.
comprises 41 basic letters. A number of other hP'ags-pa
letters are used for writing Tibetan or for transliterating Sanskrit. This
syllabic alphabet is written in vertical columns, from top to bottom, laid out
left to right across the writing surface.
Now look at the picture above #5. Here in the red circle, you see where
the hP'ags-pa characters have been placed. These characters are puzzling
the coin collectors for years. We do not surely know what they
are. Are they really hP'ags-pa characters as mostly accepted among
numismatists, or the characters belonging to an other alphabet used by Mongolian
people of that time (say Sanskrit), or just a "damga" or royal stamp
which we don't know the meaning of. According to generally approved explanation,
they are hP'ags-pa characters, "Cha", "Sa" and
"Ka" and can be read as "Chasag-a", which means "in the
reign". Some writers read it as "Cha-kra-ra" to give the
meaning of "Shah Jihan". This is the title of Khubilai Khan and
also used by his successors. Another different reading, by trying to find resemblances to
Sanskrit letters, is "Cha", "Kra", "Warti", which
means "emperor". Maybe none of these, instead it may stand just
for Ghazan's name. As far as I know, these characters are seen only on
In the picture below you see different examples of
zero point of ilkhani calendar is Rajab 01, 701 AH (according to another
reference Rajab 13, 701 AH). This date is in the
reign of Ghazan Mahmud. But, however it is, we see
ilkhani dates only on some Abu Said coins as 33 and 34
ilkhani. The year ilkhani 33 corresponds to 734/735 and 34 to 735/736 AH.
It is a pleasure for me to thank to Emyr
R. E. Pugh, from "Linguamongolia", for his
valuable help and contribution in the preparation of
this page. If you want to learn more about ancient
Mongolian scripts you may have a look at LINGUAMONGOLIA