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The coinage of Karabakh khanate

28 November 2016 16:23 (UTC+04:00)
The coinage of Karabakh khanate

By Trend

The death of Nadir the founder of Turkic dynasty of Afsharids, has strengthened the process of dissolution of their statehood and the emergence of khanates - (khanate is a small form of the shah authority) independent feudal state formations in the second part of the eighteenth century in Azerbaijan and Iran. One of the most powerful among them was Karabakh khanate. Putting up a strong resistance to rival khanates it even survived the furious Agha Mohammad-khan Qajars invasion, who met his death here (the power of the khanate increased insomuch that the court nobility has advised Ibrahim-khan the son of Panakh-khan, founder of the khanate, to proclaim himself a shah).

The coinage of Karabakh khanate plays a special role in the Azerbaijani numismatics. Not only because of the striking the original silver coins known in the numismatic literature as “panabadi” (derives from “panakhabadi”, - of Panakhabad) in this khanate, to be precise in Panakhabad the city named after its founder, the fortress city, the capital founded by Panakh-khan (1748-1758/9). It was a unique case in the coinage history, when the coins got its name after the issuer city.

There is no precise information on when these coins started to be stamped. Author of the chronicles “On the political condition of the Karabakh Khanate in the years of 1745-1805” Ahmedbek Javanshir relates this event to the end of construction of the city in 1754. Noting this date as a foundation date of Panakhabad fortress, Ahmedbek, probably meant 1100th year of hegira which coincides with 1756/7th year of the Gregorian calendar, which is also referred by other chroniclers. Extant samples of panabadi are dated at 1201-1787. Judging from this, the coins were emitted till 1237-1822, till the collapse of the khanate.

Karabakh khanate, anonymous, 1199 AH, abbasi, silver

Afsharids, Shakhrukh, (1748-1796)

Ganja, 1163 AH, abbasi, silver

On the front side of panabadi is a distorted couplet on Farsi: “In the name of Sahib az-Zaman (“The Lord of the Time” – the 12th Shiite imam Muhammad Mahdi) gold and silver like a sun and moon became a coin”. On the other side, in the middle, in the buta-like cartouche is the place of issue: “zarb-i Panakhabad”, stamp of Panakhabad, above the cartouche is the plea: “Oh, Allah!”, under the cartouche is the date of issue 1201-1787. As we see, panabadis were issued anonymously, without eponyms, like all currencies of the greater region, the region that was deprived of hereditary shah authority after the collapse of Afsharids.

The distinction of this new, a little prolonged monetary unit, beside all, is that its set weight differed sharply from the common weight standard of abbasi monetary unit that served as main unit of monetary system of Azerbaijan and Iran since its introduction during the Safavid Emperor Abbas I (1587-1629). Nominal value of abbasi was equal to 200 copper dinars, but over time its weight decreased and by the middle of eighteenth century it was 2,6-3,0 gr. Average weight of 23 panabadi items stored in the Department of Numismatics and Epigraphy of the National Museum of History of Azerbaijani equals 5,2 gr, that is equivalent to 28 nokhuds or 7 dangas that makes 5,46 gr. It is obvious that weight of panabadi is twice of the weight of abbasi. In this connection, the determination of nominal value of panabadi is of huge interest. According to Ahmed bek Javanshir panabadi was equal (in parity ratio) to Russian coin weighing 5,0 gr worth of 15 kopeika. Taking into consideration that almost identic weight of two abbasi with nominal value 2 х 200 = 400 copper dinars, thus the panabadi’s nominal value with overestimated weight (5,46 gr) should have been a bit higher than 400 dinars.

Ganja Khanate, anonymous, Ganja 1189 AH, abbasi, silver

Not having enough written data, it might be stated a priory that, its worth was as twice as much of the nominal value of two abbasi and its worth was equal to approximately 500 copper dinars. It is also possible that at the time of panabadis introduction there was forcible rate overestimation, as it usually was experienced by medieval states upon introduction of new monetary units or during the changes of outdated monetary systems.

Whatever the case, Panakh khans monetary reform was not only peculiar and unique, but it symbolized, a strengthened social and economic potential of the Karabakh khanate, in addition to prestigious intentions of the initiator.

In this regard, Mirza Adigozal bek attaches attention in his book “Karabakhname” to the aphorism of the prominent medieval Azerbaijani politico-military figure Haji Chelebi Shekinsky (1743-1755) who stated after defeat that: “Untill now Panakh khan was bullion, we came and made him a coin and went back” (this saying has other versions like: “Panakh Khan was a merely khan, we came and fight him and got nothing. We made him shah and we went back” (Mirza Jamal Javanshir); and “Panakhali khan declared himself a shah, and I by my defeat confirmed his khanate” (Ahmed bek Javanshir). Prolonged coins with inscriptions on front side “Oh, Sahib az-Zaman” and “zarb-i-Panakhabad” on reverse side were stamped in Panakhabad along with panabadis. According to findings, abbasis - silver coins abbasi of neighboring khanates (Ganja, Shirvan and others) were also put into circulation on the territory of Karabakh khanate.

Qajars, Fatali shah, 1244 AH, sahibkran, silver

After forming new Turkic dynasty in Southern Azerbaijan in Iran by Fatali Shah, (1211-1250) Karabakh khanate the state of Qajars, as well as some other khanates like Ganja, Sheki of Northern Azerbaijan went under influence of this state, and as a consequence on that territories the silver coins of Qajars were put into circulation. Considering this issue a chronicler Adigozal bek writes on the issue of silver coins entitled “sahibkran”, in Panakhabad on behalf of Fatali shah, that it equals to 30 Russian kopeika. Such coins weighting 7 gr of nominal value of 1000 copper dinars, were also stamped in Ganja, Sheki, were circulating along with local coins.

Coins of the Karabakh khanate are of huge importance not only for the Karabakh khanate, but also for all Azerbaijan. It is impossible to overestimate the significance of these metallic relics of Azerbaijani numismatics, especially nowadays when the Armenian chauvinism, with the tacit approval of certain powers, started to claim these native Azerbaijani lands of Daglig Karabakh (I can’t understand why we do allow the foreigners to call this geographical unit on Russian-manner Nagorny. Let’s remind cases with names of Tallin-Tallinn, Tiflis-Tbilisi).

By and large, high-grade and heavy panakhabadis have left deep marks in history of Azerbaijani numismatics, as undeniable proofs of emerging political and economic basis of the Azerbaijani statehood during the period of Karabakh khanate. At the same time the coins confirm the role and place of Panakh-khan who managed to create in circumstances of political fragmentation and tearing the country feuds, the strong and large state extending during its heyday far beyond the territories called habitually by many people “Nagorny Karabakh”.

Ali Rajabli, Doctor of History

"İRS" Magazine


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