The splendour of Isfahan:
coins from Iran

5 March – 5 July 2009

Exhibition closed

Room 69a

The exhibition features coins, images and other objects illustrating Isfahan’s rich history, from its pre-Islamic foundation until the present day.

The beautiful city of Isfahan in central Iran has been described as ‘Isfahan nesf-e jahan’ (‘Isfahan is half the world’ in Persian). Shah 'Abbas I of the Safavid dynasty made it his capital in 1598.

The coins on display show the development in styles throughout Isfahan’s history. Safavid era coins reflect the dynasty's adoption of Shiism as Iran’s state religion. They have Arabic inscriptions stating the ruler’s allegiance to Imam 'Ali and his family.

From the first quarter of the 16th century, coins introduce Persian phrases on the back, and by the time of Shah Sultan Husayn (AH 1105–1135/1694–1722 AD) Persian couplets in beautiful calligraphy dominate the coin inscriptions.

The exhibition also includes images of some of the magnificent architecture of Isfahan, the city that was built on the Zayandeh Rud, the ‘life-giving river’.

Related exhibitions and displays

Shah 'Abbas: The Remaking of Iran
19 February – 14 June 2009

Takhti: a modern Iranian hero
19 February – 19 April 2009

Isfahan exhibition identity