ISLAMIC, 'Abbasid Caliphate. Uncertain period. Dirham (Silver, 27 mm, 2.83 g, 6 h), donative issue. Uncertain mint, perhaps Madinat al-Salam, circa AH 4th century. Fabulous beast (simurgh?) with the body of a bird and the head of a cat or dog standing to left, with long feathers emerging from its tail; above, annulet; all within double linear border. Rev. Bull reclining left with protruding tongue, wearing elaborate headgear and decorated shabraque. Apparently unique and of great interest. Minor areas of weakness, otherwise, very fine.
From the Tabib Collection, formed over the past 40 years.
In the 'Abbasid Caliphate, religious authorities would prohibit the depiction of animals on coins, and it is therefore believed that the extremely rare donative issues showing beasts only circulated in the private sphere of the court of the Caliph, who perhaps handed them out to his many wives and concubines. This piece shows, on the obverse, a fabulous beast with the body of a bird and the head of a cat or dog, which is, perhaps, a rendering of simurgh, a giant mythological bird. The reverse, on the other hand, shows a bull, which was very probably copied from the jitals of the Hindu Shahi dynasty (AD 879-1026) in Kabul, Afghanistan.