Gold dinar coin

Sulayhid dynasty, AH 487 / AD 1094
Dhu Jibla, Yemen

A coin of Queen Arwa that does not bear her name

This dinar was struck in the highlands of Yemen, ruled at the time by the Sulayhid dynasty (1047-1138). This coin was issued by Queen Arwa (died 1138), who took over power on the death of her husband Ahmad (reigned 1067–84). Despite her status, her name is not found on the coin, and she was only able to rule indirectly, through her officials. She was known as 'the younger queen of Sheba' (in Arabic 'Belqis'). A celebrated Yemeni poet Ali b. al-Qam (1050-1138) described Queen Arwa in the following verse:

'If one were to adore, after God, a human being, then that human would be you and none other,
And if your clothes were worn by Belqis then she would not fear Solomon nor would she fear David.'

The Sulyahids struck all of their coins in gold. Their dinars are characterized by inscriptions in the angular Kufic script. On the obverse (front) of this example is the Islamic profession of faith, the shahada, with the additional phrase 'Ali is the friend of God', indicating that the Sulayhids belong to the Shia branch of Islam. On the reverse of the coin is the phrase 'the king, the Sayyid' (denoting a link with the house of the Prophet Muhammad), 'al-Mukarram' (a Yemeni title), 'chief of the Arabs' (title) and the words 'Sultan under the Prince of the Faithful.'

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More information


W. Daum (ed.), Yemen, 3000 years of art and c (Pinguin publishers, Mainz, 1987)

N. Lowick, 'Some unpublished dinars of the Sulayhids and Zurayids' in Coinage and history of the I-1 (Aldershot, Variorum, 1990)


Diameter: 17.000 mm
Weight: 1.220 g

Museum number

CM 1980-6-5-9



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