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From: Jim Farr (USA). Oriental Numismatic Society Journal 2005 #186

The Coins of Mongol Empire and Clan Tamgha of Khans (XIII-XIV), by Nyamaa Badarch.  Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.  256 pp, A4 format, lavishly illustrated throughout, mostly with color photos.  Available from the author, Nyamaa Badarch.

This is a beautifully produced book that should be in the library of anyone interested in the history and coins of the Mongol dynasties.  The author was born in Mongolia and graduated as a historian-translator from the Institute of Asia and Africa of the University of Moscow.  In recent years he has devoted himself to the collection and study of Mongol coins.  His new book is a welcome result of his interest.

The first part of the book is an extensive and detailed analysis of the tamghas, symbols of individual clans and tribes, found on Mongol coins.  As the author explains in his introduction, when a clan would split from another clan, the new clan would adopt a new tamgha formed by adding to or otherwise modifying the tamgha of the parent clan.  This sets up the premise of his analysis that the evolving tamghas found on coins of the Chingizids, Golden Horde (Jujids), Golden Horde (Hulaguids), Chaghatayids and the Yuan Dynasty reflect the political and familial relationships of the issuers of the coins. 

The analysis of the tamghas on coins is accompanied not only by line drawings and photographs of  the coins on which the tamghas are found, but also by archaeological sites, artifacts, and contemporary artwork and documents with personal seals of the Mongol khans.  There are also numerous diagrams showing the relationships among different tamghas and a final summary table showing how tamghas changed over time from the parent tamgha through the various divisions of the Chinghizids into separate dynasties and as modified by individual rulers. 

The second part of the book attempts to be a comprehensive discussion of all known coins with Mongol inscriptions in Uighur or Phags-pa script.  Each coin is photographed, and the Mongol inscriptions are written out, analyzed and translated.  The author compares his translations to those of other scholars and explains his preferences based on Mongol history and religion.   It is also pointed out that many of the Mongol legends are also found on official state seals of Mongol khans.

The section on Mongol script also continues to identify tamghas on coins.  Both the tamgha and Mongol script sections of the book contain relevant historical notes.

The final part of the book is a catalogue of the Mongol coins in the author’s private collection.  It contains 233 coins carefully selected by the author for their variety and quality.  The catalogue is organized with two coins per page, each with an enlarged clear photograph, a smaller line drawing, metric information (diameter and weight) and a translation of the legends.  While not a comprehensive collection, it contains some very rare coins that have not been published elsewhere, as well as well-struck and well-preserved examples of more common types.  It is clearly a collection assembled by someone with a good eye for quality.

In short, the book is both important to numismatics and a delight to look at.  Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay to the author is that his work clearly shows his love and appreciation for the history and coins of his homeland.  He chose not only to provide his analyses of the material, but also to present the material in a manner that transcends the narrow subject matter.  This is a book that I can unhesitatingly recommend to anyone interested in coins or Asian history. 

James A. Farr
Tallahassee, Florida


From: Pavel N. Petrov (Russia). Russian Academy of Science

Dear Reader,

You are holding a book that is a first of its kind in the world not to mention Mongolia. The value and importance of the book is enormous as it tries to cover retrospectively a whole set of questions on Mongolian numismatics starting with the tamga on the coins up to the detailed analysis of each coin itself.

One of the real highlights of this book is an extensive research done on the tamga of the coins.  A coin is not just a mere tender for exchange; it is a valuable source of history. That is why the tamga on these coins carry a legal presentation of the times through which they were valid. According to the researches done previously by several numismatists including myself there is a number of interesting questions. Why were there different tamga on the coins from different regions ruled by one Khan? What tamga belongs to whom? And most importantly, why is the status of the tamga changes when it is minted on the coins as opposed to any other objects like ceramic ware or metal objects of that historic time? To understand all of this researchers including the author himself have to really dig in to the very minor detail of every evidence that comes into the light. The research is far from being finished, this is just a beginning. A lot of questions are still waiting to be answered. There are more pleasant and surprising discoveries ahead.

I hope that after reading this book some of you will be inspired and motivated by this subject. Maybe you’ll want to know more about the questions you’ll come up to reading it, and hence, join those who are fascinated with the Mongolian numismatics of the Great Khans era.
I wish this book to have a long and safe journey ahead!

Pavel N. Petrov


From: Haroon Tareen (Pakistan). Secretary of Pakistan Numismatic Associaion

Our knowledge of Chengiz Khan and his descendants is derived mostly from Islamic sources, such as Tarikh-i-Jahan Gusha or Tarikh-i-Rashidi. Those sources are silent on various topics and seals and tamghas of the Khans is one such topic. Fresh material emerges from time to time in the shape of newer varieties of coins which provide insight into more areas of the Mongol period, e.g. till recently no Gold coins of Chengiz Khan were known but now several of the Gold Dinars have been discovered that name Chengiz Khan as the issuing authority. But there still are enigmatic coins with unattributed seals/tamghas from Mongol period, particularly the era following the death of Chengiz Khan. Numismatic collectors and scholars have different views on some Tamghas and seals of the Great Khan and his descendants.

Now a Mongol, probably the first one from Mongolia, has taken up the tedious task of determining positive attribution for enigmatic and unidentified types of Seals and Tamghas. Nyamaa Badarch has put in a lot of effort in compiling a research focused on the Tamghas and Seals of the Great Khan and his posterity and corroborated this research by numismatic evidence. It has been a privilege for me to have witnessed his efforts in this context and to have provided whatever material and support I could from Pakistan to enable Nyamaa Badarch to compile this work.

Haroon Tareen
(Pakistan)


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