Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Tale of two Islamic Coins

Recently, I started scanning my old coins with renewed vigour at completing my final year exams in Numismatics. Having gained preliminary knowledge of Islamic coinage, I began viewing my old 'Gulf' coins collected from my uncles' visits to the Middle East in 1980s more seriously. A set of two coins I came across caught my fancy; I am listing their images. Apart from a similar symbol in the centre, the two coins show inscriptions which can be read as; the left coin's inscription is read as 'Said-bin-Taimur' (upper line right to left) 'Sultan Muscat wa Oman' (lower line right to left); the right coin's inscription is read as 'Qaboos-bin-Said' (upper line right to left) 'Sultan Oman'. I was intrigued as the coins suggested that the first Sultan was the father of the second Sultan; bin suggesting the relationship. A study of the coins' reverse images as listed below
The coin on the left (Said-bin-Taimur's reverse) shows the Islamic era date 1390 A.H. which translated into 1970 A.D.; the coin on right (Qaboos-bin-Said's reverse) shows the date 1395 A.H. which is 1975 A.D. suggesting the coins were issued five years apart from each other. Meanwhile, I began an Internet search on the two sultans and the facts were startling. Sultan Said-bin-Taimur ruled a kingdom called 'Sultanate of Muscat and Oman' from 10 February 1932 until his overthrow on 23 July 1970. He was deposed by his son, Qaboos who he held in virtual house arrest at his palace in Salalah.
Qaboos deposed him in 1970 with the help of the British government. He renamed the country 'Sultanate of Oman' making Muscat his capital!
The coin's reverse shows its value as '10 Baisa' in fact Omani riyal is composed of a unit called Baisa; 100 Baisa made a riyal and the name was inspired from the Indian paisa which was prevalent during the British rule. Modern Omani riyal is made of 1000 Baisa.
Thus, two small coins opened up a whole chapter of history for me and made me wonder of how many such gems lie in my neglected collection of my school days. I have accessed some more of these gems but will reveal each one at a suitable time.