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Larin of Shah Tahmasp

Safavid Dynasty larin

  • Sri Lankan larin

    Sri Lankan larin

 

Length: 2.600 cm
Weight: 4.840 cm

CM 1978-3-5-16

Coins and Medals

    Larin of Shah Tahmasp

    Safavid dynasty, about AD 1524-76
    From Iran

    A larin, invented during the sixteenth century, is a coin shaped like a bent hairpin. This example was issued during the reign of Shah Tamasp (reigned 1524-76), son of Isma'il I, founder of the Safavid dynasty.

    The name larin, originates from the city of Lar in Iran where they were first struck. For two centuries, they were struck with circular or rectangular dies by a number of Islamic rulers - in Turkey, Arabia and Iran - as well as in India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, becoming a popular coin for international trade. It is said that they were tied up in bundles and traded by weight. According to the mid-nineteenth century writer, François Pyrard de Laval: 'the best silver comes from Persia by way of Hormuz in the form of long coins called larins which the smiths of India prize highly and use to their great advantage being a very pure clean soft silver good for working'.

    In the sixteenth century, five larins could be exchanged for one gold ashrafi. In the Maldives they were used alongside cowrie shells while in Sri Lanka, where they were shaped like fish hooks, they circulated alongside Portuguese coins.

    M. Mitchiner, Oriental coins and their value (London, Hawkins Publications, 1977)

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    Islamic art, design and craft, £14.99

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