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Extremely Rare Tukharistan (Tokharistan) mint

Triton XXI, Lot: 947. Estimate $25000.
Sold for $25000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

ISLAMIC, Umayyad Caliphate. temp. 'Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan. AH 65-86 / AD 685-705. AR Dirham (28mm, 2.83 g, 6h). Tukharistan (Tokharistan) mint. Dated AH [7]8 or 8[0] (AD 697/8 or 699/700). First portion of the kalimat at-tawḥīd: lā ilāha illā-llāhu waḥdahu lā sharīka la (there is no god except Allah, and one [is] he; (there is) no partner to him) in three lines; in outer margin, b-ismi-llāh zarb hazā āl-dirham bi-tukharistan fī sanat themān (in the name of Allah struck this dirham in Tukharistan in the year eight (after the Hijra)); all within triple pelleted circular border; outer border consisting of five annulets surrounded by pelleted circular border / “Umayyad Second Symbol” (Sura 112 [al-ikhlas]): allah ahad allah/es-samad lem yalid/ wa lem yūlad wa lem yakun/lahu kufū ahad (Allah is one. Allah is Eternal. He did not beget and he was not begotten, and there was not to him equal a single one) in three lines; in outer margin the “Umayyad Second Symbol” (Sura 9 [al-tauba]:33): [muḥammadur] rasūlu-llāh arsalahu bi-’lhudā wa dīn al-haqq lī-yuzhirahu ’ala al-dīn kollihi walau ka[riha al-mushrikūn] (Muhammad is the messenger of Allah; him He sent with guidance and true faith to make it prevail over all other faiths even though the polytheists may hate it); all within double pelleted circular border; outer border consisting of five annulets surrounded by pelleted circular border. F. Mosanef and M.T. Saffar, “An Umayyad dirham of Tokharistan,” JONS 217 (Autumn 2013), p. 8; Klat –; Album –; ICV –; Morton & Eden 69, lot 20 (different dies). Good VF, toned. Extremely rare and historically important.

Tukharistan was the name of a large district to the east of the great city of Balkh, extending along the southern bank of the Oxus river as far as the mountains of Badakhshan, and stretching south as far as the mountain ranges north of Banjhir and Bamiyan. This Umayyad dirham is the only known coin from any dynasty with this mint-name.

According to Mosanef and Saffar, at the time of the Muslim conquests Tukharistan was ruled by a Sasanian governor. During the caliphate of 'Uthman (AH 23-35) the famous governor of Khurasan, 'Abdallah ibn 'Amir, sent forces eastwards into Tukharistan under the command of Ahnaf ibn Qays. Ahnaf soon captured Marw, and after defeating a large Sasanian army moved on to capture several towns before finally entering Balkh, where the two sides signed a peace treaty. Some years later Firuz, son of the last Sasanian king Yazdigerd III, invaded Tukharistan in an ill-fated attempt to restore Sasanian rule. He was defeated in AH 47 and fled to China, after which Tukharistan seems to have remained relatively peaceful for the next thirty years.

In AH 78, al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf appointed Muhallab ibn Abi Sufra to the governorship of Khorasan. Muhallab spent two years in Tukharistan while his son campaigned further east as far as Bukhara. Another decade of eastern conquests under Qutayba ibn Muslim Bahili was to follow.

Although Mosanef and Saffar read the date on this coin as thamanin (“eighty”), it is clearly thaman (“eight”). While thamanin may be possible, the date thaman [wa saba'in], (“seventy-eight”) seems more likely, given the historical context. The date would then coincide with the appointment of Muhallab ibn Abi Sufra as governor of Khorasan.