Qajar Coin with Sun Motif

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Qajar coin with sun motif AH 1240/1824 CE, Tabriz, Iran Copper Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, 75938

Qajar coin


Qajar coin


Facial features are included in this sun motif, which is stamped onto the obverse of a small copper coin minted in Tabriz in 1824. While epigraphic coins were most common throughout the Islamic world, extant examples display a range of motifs, including animals, human figures, heraldic emblems, and signs of the zodiac. Solar, lunar, and stellar imagery appear on Iranian coins from the 17th century onward. By the Qajar period (1785–1925), however, the image of the sun acquired heraldic and sectarian meanings under the Shi‘i rulers of Iran, who envisioned themselves as cosmic rulers endowed with the light of God. Additionally, coins made of copper tended to be more experimental in their designs, as evidenced by this anthropomorphized sun.

Bibliography: Wasserstein 1993; Heidemann 2010; Bates 1982, 46–61; Bates and Darley-Doran 1985, 393; Soucek 2001, 66; 2006; Hinz-Göttingen 1937; and Piemontese 1969.

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