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Coins that served to the Great Silk Way and their history

Serik B. Makysh

Doctor of economic Sciences, Professor, L.N. Gumilyov ENU, Astana, Kazakhstan

The name of the monetary unit of Kazakhstan - “tenge” is closely related to its history.

InNational Encyclopedia of Kazakhstan, the history of the Tenge quoted: “For the first time, the AkGundar in I century made tenge, with one side where shown pehveli letters (turks-runi), in V-VI century made tenge, where on the behind was shown eftalits letters (turks-runi), and used in trade.The Kazakh nation (the main tribes formed by the Kazakh people) who lived on the Great Silk Way since the Turks settled on the Great Silk Way invested money too early in the turnover. In the 6th-8th centuries, symbols of the ruling circles and genera were stamped on coins. Bronze coins of the tribes living in the middle of the Syrdarya river flow were used from the 6th to the 8th centuries.These coins represent the lion, the symbol of the Ashid dynastySuch coins were made in Suyab, Taraz. In the Otyrar cities there are also various coins. Otyrar is an ancient city where the history of the people of Kazakhstan used for centuries.This money was very different. Meanwhile, monetary reform was much greater than ever.In the territory of Kazakhstan there were coin palaces in Balasagun, Orda, Taraz, Baryshan, Ispidzhab, Farab and Bukidkkent[1].

In the first half of the XII century Otyrar and Yassi troops on the coast of Syrdarya in Mongolia produced their counterfeit copper dirhams (1200-1220s) with their Horezm-i Muhammad bin Teshesh silver. Silver embroidery and money circulation were preserved in the second half of this century until the reform of Masudbek, which eliminated the silver crisis.From 1271 to 1272, the masonry maker of the mongols in Central Asia and Kazakhstan, Masudbeck, introduced a silver fragment that freely converted into the empire. Taraz, Otyrar and Kendizh were the first ones to produce silver.At the end of the XIV century in Kazakhstan, Amir Temir's coins were circulated: The traditions brought mainly from the Bukhara, Smarkan, Tashken, Aksy, Shakhruhi, Hisar, were mainly used for trade in cities of the Syrdarya region.The money of Kazakhstani money is deeply rooted. At the beginning of the XV century, Otrar and its surrounding valley were used for three degrees of silver. The main name is tange, its quarter is myr, and the one of twelve is called the tangishe.From the end of XV to the first half of the XVII century, coin palaces were built in Yassi (Turkestan), Sauran, Syganak, Sairam. In the middle of the XVI century, Yassi shayban Iskander Khan sang silver pieces. Together with the Tashken of the Syrdarya, the city created an economic zone with silver.Historians say that in the middle of the XVII century, the political and economic reasons caused by the Dzungar invasion began to decline in urban life and trade.

Then in the middle of the XVIII centuries monetary symbols of Kokan and Tashken khan began to appear in Kazakhstan. In the 19th century all trading operations were carried out only with the Russian currency.There are many interesting aspects in the history of money. For example, in the 7th century, the inscription on the outer surface had the same meaning as "the money of the heavenly roaring lion."Archaeologists and historians have proven that these highly valued silver pieces were used as world money. They were found in Central Asia in Eastern Europe, Baltic States and Scandinavia.The alloy consisted of 6 metal - silver predominant and some gold. In the 775-780 years, silver content reached 80 percent. Later, its composition decreased to 50%. Then alloyed iron, copper, bronze.The coins is sometimes covered with silver and  gold. Interestingly, at the end of the first millennium, there were counterfeit moneymakers in the Samanites who produced artificial copper felses and dirhams. Or, for example, in 1513-1514, historians have noted a coin increase in the values, which we now call inflation.The average weight of the nominal value fell from five to three grams. Limiting copper values is shortened, but the situation does not improve. Crisis has grown into silver, and it has resulted in the stocking of these silver men. Weight standard decreases sharply. Later, the reforms of the Kushkynsh Khan gave rise to weight gain. From 1525 to 1528, the silver tradition was subject to a single nation-wide standard [2].

The organization on the Great Silk Way was getting stronger. And China has provided money on our side. Making coins, named as ushu or ushucian was continued in China till VI century. After that, in the cities of South Kazakhstan and Zhetysu began to use other Chinese coins kayuan tunbao (as well as the Chinese modern currency). But then, in the 8th century, the Chinese monopoly was broken by the Sogdians. These natives of eastern Iran traded all along the Silk Way.Became the main population in the cities of Kazakhstan where submitted toTurks Kaganat. They detained a lot of caravans from China to Iran.At first, Sogdy, without changing, made copies of Chinese coins. Now we can say that it is piracy and fake. Then texts in the language of Sogdy and knife signs began to appear on coins. Most of the Chinese and Sogdy coins were found during the excavations of Otyrar city. In the VII-VIII centuries, when the decline began in European cities. In the center of Syrdarya - on the contrary, cities and trade began to develop. These cities began to make their own bronze coins, and they were modeled as a model of Sogdy coins. These coins have been in circulation for almost two centuries.The cities were ruled by the Turks, and they painted on their coins the image of a lion on one side, and on the other their own signs. Such coins are characteristic  for Otyrar, Shash (Tashkent) and Zhetisu.Ancient turks Shash coins can be divided into two main groups [3]:

  • without showing power of turks (divided into iconographic features) (1-picture)

  • glory-positions of turks represented, written in sogdy letters (2-picture).

Our era 704 -766 coins cast in Taraz, where shown inscriptions as "Turgesh kaganats coin" or "Turk’s blue blood coins". “This is not a tribal rank, but a guarantee that the entire state will use its wealth, property and national wealth. Turkesh khans made four types of coins.These money were used to calculate in tradeon a large area from Zhetisu to Sogdi (modern Tajikistan).The coins were issued in Suyab and Taraz, where the Kagan chords are located.There are signs of khan on one side of coin, on the other side - “The great Turgesh-Kagan level” and the inscription.





At the same time, the Tukhusi turk people, obeyed to their Turgesh in their Chui Valley, also issued coins, but their money was in circulation only on the Chui Valley.



At the beginning of the second half of the 8th century, the Turgesh tribes conquered Karluk, and many genealogies (chronicles) of the Kazakh tribes were accurate with his time.Karluks established their political superiority throughout the south region of country, but continued using  the coins of the Turkesh. However not only our money circulated in our country but also foreign "money".They were delivered in a region by arabs intruding to Middle Asia at the beginning the VIII century. Soon south neighbours, karluks, samanids and takhirids accepting an islam, began to do "world money", and then silver dirkhams. In IX - XI eyelids, dirhams became the basic means of appeal.But they were named as "Black dirhams", because they began to add much copper to silver.On the one side of such coins, along with the inscriptions of power, and on the behind shown the fire and the guard.



Image of a bow and on four sides the words of the Sultan "Great Sultans, the peak of peace and faith." Incomprehensible words are in overhead part, a pattern is located in an underbody.Between two circles on a circumference shown partial lost inscription "this dirham was made in Termez", and extract of  Kuran: "it is not Deities except Allah and prophet of him Mukhammed" with word “muzafari”.


FelsXIII c. MiddleShagatay tribeSilverOtyrar city



Addition of copper silver leads to depreciation of a coin and confirms economic contraction in the country. However even the most attractive coins were made of six metals. Sometimes silver dirhams were even added to silver.


The period of prosperity began in the region after creation of karakhanid in the 11th century in the Southern Kazakhstan. At the same time money at first did not change. But in the middle of the next century black dirhams disappeared. At the same time the new generation began to build the bronze and copper coins. It should be noted that these black dirhams just advance long-term coins in our country. They were used about 400 years.

For many years of a coin were constructed in Barab (Otyrar district), Ispidzhab, Taraz.



FelsXV c.Timur and Timurids country

CopperOtyrar city


The state Karakhanidov was the difficult system which is characterized by the European classical feudal states. Some governors were obedient to others and tried to make own money. And it led to distribution of counterfeit coins. Archeologists know many poyeddelny coins warehouses. It is probable that even governors did not know about their existence.


Counterfeit version of Karahanid dirhams[4] .

In the 11th century "silver crisis" of Central Asia and the Southern Kazakhstan continued 250 years. Came to the end existence silver fields in the Talas Rivers and Akhangaran. The majority of silver coins took off from this region for Europe where the intensive growth of the city began.

Despite it, the cities in the region intensively increase, and their borders extend. For example, the total area of Shymkent reached 30 at that time. Along with copper coins gold also circulated. But archeologists found only a piece of gold, but not a metal coin from many warehouses. Silver crisis also led to distribution of lawful counterfeit money. At that time in Kazakhstan there were not less than five coins.


It is a real product of the counterfeit producer of coins and even the remains of silver[4]

Before arrival of Mongols the Southern Kazakhstan was occupied with Khwarezm Shah Mohammed who began to make coins of Khwarezm in Otrar. The archeology sometimes specifies history. The Mongolian invasion caused extensive damage to our country, but it is not clear whether there were big losses, chroniclers sometimes think about it. The cities, such as Sauran, were given to Mongols, and they did not even concern them, even Otrar itself quickly grews. So, after some decrease economic recovery began in the second half of the 13th century. It demanded big money.




(Silver stocks and warehouse for coins, Otyrar, XII) [5] .

The Mongolian state of Chagatai which entered the Southern Kazakhstan quickly created high-quality silver coins. Even Gold dinars were released in Otyrar, Bukhara and Hodzhent. But gold, as a rule, is not on sale out of limits of the jewelry. Coins were broken and buried in the earth.


Despite the decree Mengu-hana in 1251, about the taxation of gold dinars[6].

Otrar's excavationin the USSR which was the largest excavation after in Novgorod, that was continued for quarter of the century, where found gold dinars, silver copper dirhams and copper fels. Even now it is not difficult to find the written above coins in this city. Sometimes the name of Genghis Khan was a guarantee for confirmation of authenticity of coins. People expressed confidence in silver copper to dirhams in Otrar and Hodzhenta, and they were let out for a long time. Money turnover in the Southern Kazakhstan area were in an excellent state, and in Otyrar it was confirmed with findings of gold, copper, silver dirhams and copper fels.

The city of Taraz, Otyrar and Kene, the Southern Kazakhstan, was the empire's first Chagatai for production of silver coins. The coins which are released in these three centers were just the same. Mongols, despite their cruel thinking, pursued the most reasonable economic policy. Central Asia showed great interest to them as to a high and stable source. They took it directly from the deputy minister of economy Mongolia was not engaged in affairs in production of money. All region was headed by the dealer Mahmoud Yalavach, and then his great-grandfather Masoud-bek who lived during board of a number of khanates and undertook large monetary reforms. He encouraged many monetary plants, and established the uniform weight and the standard on silver coins. The empire received a silver coin and the national standard of its weight which freely extends across all territory. At the same time copper money which corresponds to the sizes and mass of silver develop. Masoud-beki was the only reform "silver crisis". It also promoted long-term and to sustained economic growth in the region. It was the secret about the Mongolian money.

Names of the Mongolian khans were not written down in them, but the name of the Baghdad Caliph Nassir was written, Mongols, in fact, killed him in 1258. Besides, this name also coincides with Yusid's coins in the Altyn Orda. And they were actively used in the west of Kazakhstan. Historians respect traditions and consider what Burke khan is the indicator of new religion in the Altyn Orda which pursued policy of introduction of Islam. With disintegration of the Mongolian states process of production of coins also fell. Production of coinswas stopped in Otyrar in the 14th century when the most part of Kazakhstan was included into Ak Orda. But at the end of the century Timur came to our region where the economy renewed again. In Otyrar casting of a coin begins. However silver was used in trade in the southern part of modern Uzbekistan where also the silver tenge made in Bukhara were used.  For the first time on region there was a name of the current currency of Kazakhstan. But about tiyn not yet. Tenge was divided into four parts, and its quarter was called miri. In the territory of the Timurids state was found more than thirty monetary plant. Then the monetary reform was initiated by the famous reader and the statesman Ulugbek. In 1428 the old coin began to turn in new and when it ended, all coins were closed, and the empire used the same money within 60 years. And if it is not enough, then additional coins were broken only in Bukhara. After disintegration of the state of Timurid the most southern region of Kazakhstan was the battlefield for long fight between the Kazakh khans and governors of Maverennahr. Fight was in the rich cities of the river Syrdarya. And this fight ended with crash of these cities at the beginning of the 19th century, and the region joined the Kokan  khan. But within within century many types of money were entered here. This region governed by Shaybanids which ruled at first Afghanistan and Iran. In 1507 Mohammad Shaybani-han also governedGerat city and then announced the decree on a monetary reform in the intensive mosque of the city, promised that all people having an opportunity to do products of silver or casting it, can make it. "August painting" which received a name of Mohammad Shaybanikhan for his name and a position was a basis of a silver circle.

The end time of reform was in 1508 y., where with the same weight and maintenance of inscriptions where made coins in many regions of Shaybanid government, as Samarkand, Buhara, Merv, Nista, Serahs, Great, Meshkhed, Nishapurad, Nimruz, Kain, Sebzevar. Silver coins across the country were in circulation, any person could order coins or metal products, for a fee. Source of income for the Treasury was the production of coins and separate orders for castings.

However, this does not mean that huge profits from silver and gold were deposited in the Treasury of the Central government. At that time the head of the family was the first among balances. Main rulers gave him outdated assessment, the inscriptions on the coins were named after the head of the dynasty, and the coins received income. Systematics of silver, and from mouth to mouth was done in the four largest cities - Bukhara, Samarkand, Balkh, and Tashkent. They moved from Tashkent to Kazakhstan and fluent circling in the Kazakh khans. And its owners were the main political enemies of the Shaybanids. In the XVIII century Bukhara rulers Zhandid (descendants of Astrakhan khans) began the systematic production of gold coins. One gold coin was equal to 50-80 silver coins (depending on their samples and rates). All of them were in circulation in the South of Kazakhstan and started to go North.

The literatures:

  1. Kazakstan Ulttyk Enciklopediyasi. Almaty: 1998.
  2. Gabjalelov H. Tenge - Almaty, 2003. –C.212
  3. Makysh S.B. Theory of money, credit and banks - Almaty, Jeti Jargy, 2011. –C. 372
  4. http://archeologia.narod.ru
  5. http://www.rasmircoins.ucoz.ru/forum
  6. http://www.zeno.ru/showgalleru
  7. http://www.charm.ru

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