Scarce Cairo Egypt Islamic Silver Coin Mamluk Dirham Displaying Heraldic Lion 676-678 AH /1277-1279 AD Al-Said Nasir al-Din Baraka Qan
Description: A very scarce silver coin from the times of Baraka Qan (al-Sa'id Nasir al-Din Baraka Qan) son of Al-Zahir Rukn Al-Din Baybars, who ruled Egypt and Syria after his father during the period 676-678 AH (1277-1279 AD). Baraka Qan is from the Bahari Mamluk dynasty. This is a dirham weighing about 2.7 grams and measuring 19 millimeters in diameter. It is in generally very fine condition with wear commensurate with its circulated state. It shows quite a bit of the legends on both obverse and reverse and shows the heraldic Lion passant to the left introduced originally by Baybars I and adopted by his son Baraka Qan. The obverse shows the words "alsa'id; ...nya wa al-din Barak Qan; al malik al-zahir qassim" with the lion below it. The reverse shows the bottom part of the word al-Qahira (Cairo) on top of the field then the words La Illaha ell Allah; Muhammad Rasul Allah; Arsaluh Bil Hudah ...." The coin does not show a date of minting but shows part of the mint name. Please carefully review the scans presented as they are part and parcel of our description.
Date: Date off flan, struck in the period 676-678 AH (1277-1279 AD).
Mint: al-Qahira or Cairo the current capital of Egypt.
Size and Weight: This is a silver dirham, weighs ~2.7 grams of silver and is ~19 mm in diameter.
References: It is Album #887 (S), listed in Balog as 107a, and it is Wilkes 964.
Condition: I would grade this coin as a very fine or better. The coin itself is much better than the scan shows with well defined and legible calligraphy on both the obverse and reverse as well as the image of the Heraldic Lion on the obverse. The coin shows part of the mint name, which is rather rare for these coins. It also clearly shows the name Baraka Qan. The coin shows some wear and area of flatness in the bottom left of the reverse. However, the rest of the legends are clear and readable. This is a scarce coin and rather difficult to find, which would make a nice addition to your collection. Please see the photos for additional condition information.
Historic Perspective: The word Mamluks in Arabic means "owned", hence their nickname "Slave Kings". They succeeded the Ayyubids and ruled Egypt and Syria for about 250 years. They had been recruited by the Ayyubids and then, like the Turkish mercenaries of the Abbasid caliphs, had usurped power from their enfeebled masters. Unlike their predecessors, however, they were able to maintain their power, and they retained control of Egypt until the Ottoman conquest in 1517. Militarily formidable, they were also the first power to defeat the Mongols in open combat in 1260, at Ayn Jalut near Nazareth in Palestine. The Mamluk sultans are usually divided into two dynasties, the Bahris (1250 - 1382 AD), chiefly Turks and Mongols, and the Burjis (1382 - 1517 AD), chiefly Circassians. These names arise from the location of the barracks of the Mamluks within the city of Cairo (Al Kahira). Those originating from the barracks on an island in the Nile are Bahari (sea dwellers) and those who were in the towers of the Cairo Citadel are the Burjis (the tower dwellers).
The Bahri sultans were usually selected from a few chief families, but during Burji times there was scant respect for hereditary principle in the selection of rulers. Neither dynasty was able to exercise more than a limited power over the turbulent Mamluk soldiers. The sultans reigned, on average, less than seven years and usually met violent ends. In spite of the dangers that threatened the sultans at home, they usually conducted a vigorous foreign policy. They defeated the last of the Crusaders and repulsed the Mongol invasion of Syria. At times they held all Palestine and Syria and the holy places of Arabia. Even after the Ottomans occupied Egypt they wheeled quite a bit of power until Mohammad Ali massacred the last of them at the Cairo Citadel in the early 1800's.