An Islamic figural bronze: Badr al-Din Lu'lu' of Mosul

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Parthicus, Apr 6, 2024.

  1. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Lu'lu'ids. Mosul mint. Badr al-Din Lu'lu' (1234-1259 CE/631-657 AH), dated 631 AH. AE dirham. Obverse: Classical head left in square, Arabic legend around (partly off flan) giving mint of al-Mawsil and date 631. Reverse: Central legend in four lines citing the Abbasid caliph al-Mustansir, circular legend around citing Badr al-Din Lu'lu' and his nominal Ayyubid overlords al-Kamil and al-Ashraf. Album 1874.1, Spengler/Sayles 68, Mitchiner WoI 1131. This coin: Stephen Album Internet-only Auction 25, lot 401 (2024).

    Badr al-Din Lu'lu' is sometimes considered the founder of his own short-lived dynasty, the Lu'lu'ids, and sometimes counted as a usurper within the Zengids of Mosul. He was a former slave, of Armenian heritage, who converted to Islam and became an administrator under the Zengid emir Nur al-Din Arslan Shah I. In 1211 he became the atabeg (officially tutor, but effectively regent) for the new, still a child, Nur al-Din Arslan Shah II, and then his younger brother and successor Nasir al-Din Mahmud. In 1233 Nasir al-Din Mahmud disappeared (presumably quietly killed on orders of Lu'lu') and Lu'lu' began to openly rule solo. He asked the Caliph in Baghdad for official recognition, and in 1234 was proclaimed the sultan of Mosul with the title al-Malik al-Rahim (the Merciful King). Which, given how he acquired the throne, seems like a misnomer, or perhaps a bad joke.

    Despite the way he acquired the throne, Lu'lu's reign was generally a time of prosperity and cultural flowering for the people of his territory, which included a large portion of northern Iraq. Lu'lu' proclaimed allegiance to the Abbasid Caliph and to the Ayyubids. In 1243, he would also recognize the authority of the Mongols, which spared Mosul from being destroyed. In 1258, he would even provide provisions and weapons to Mongol troops passing through his territory for the Siege of Baghdad, which ended with the destruction of the Abbasid Caliphate to which Lu'lu' had pledged his allegiance. Badr al-Din Lu'lu' died in 1259 and was succeeded by his son Isma'il bin Lu'lu'. Isma'il would initially continue his father's support of the Mongols, but after the Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260, when the Ayyubids were able to defeat the Mongol forces, Isma'il switched his loyalties to the Ayyubids. The Mongol leader Hulagu would besiege Mosul for nine months, and in 1262 completely destroyed the city, bringing the Lu'lu'id dynasty to an ignominious end.

    I bought this coin, not only for the history behind it, but also because of the very striking portrait on the obverse. This type was struck only at the mint of Mosul and is only known dated to 631 AH, though given the relative abundance of this type, Spengler and Sayles suggest that the type may have been struck for several years with a frozen date. They also suggest that the figure on the obverse may be an astrological representation of the sun, though they admit that the evidence for that is weak. Regardless, this is an attractive and historical coin, and I was happy to win it in auction. Please post whatever related coins you have.
    Codera, BenSi, Cheech9712 and 10 others like this.
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  3. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    These earlier Islamic pieces with portraiture are interesting. I've never had anything like that.
  4. robinjojo

    robinjojo Well-Known Member

    That's a really nice coin! Quite scarce as well in nice grade.

    I was lucky to purchase this example from Roma's E-Sale 116, lot 1603. This coin is ex Steve Album, Auction 17, lot 608.

    Lu'lu'ids, Badr al-Din Lu'lu Æ Dirham. al-Mawsil AH 631 Album 1874.1. 8.14g, 24mm, 3h.jpg

    Lu'lu'ids, Badr al-Din Lu'lu Æ Dirham. al-Mawsil mint, AH 631 = AD 1233/4. Diademed head to left; star below chin, all within square border; mint and date in margins / Legend citing the Abbasid Caliph al-Mustansir, Lu'lu, and the Ayyubid overlords al-Kamil and al-Ashraf in four lines and around. Album 1874.1; S&S Type 68. 8.14g, 24mm, 3h.

    Very Fine.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2024
    Ancientnoob, BenSi, Parthicus and 4 others like this.
  5. Cheech9712

    Cheech9712 Every thing is a guess

    Glad for you. Nice write up
  6. BenSi

    BenSi Well-Known Member


    One of my favorite, the largest NIKE i have seen.

    Anatolia & al-Jazira (Post-Seljuk). Artuqids (Kayfa & Amid). Fakhr al-Din Qara Arslan (AH 543-570 / AD 1148-1174). Ae Dirham. 10.81gm 32mm

    And another example of the OP.
    Zangids of Mosul, Badr al Din Lu'lu'. AE27 Dirhem
    Obv: Diademed classical head left in dotted square, with star; mint and date around.

    Rev: Legend in four lines citing the Abbasid caliph al-Mustansir, the Zengid ruler Lu'lu', and the Ayyubid sultans al-Kamil and al-Ashraf.

    Ref: Edhem 146; Album 1874.1. SS-68 Dated AH 631 (1233/34 AD). 7.35g.
  7. Codera

    Codera Well-Known Member

    I don't have any Islamic coins but these are fascinating! Usually their coins have Arabic calligraphy on them so seeing portraits is very interesting!
    lordmarcovan likes this.
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