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Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 12:38:41 -0500
Sender: H-NET List on Islamic Lands of the Medieval Period
From: editor, h-mideast medieval <langkh@uwec.edu>
Subject: Emirs of al-Yun

Amirs of al-Yun

Dialog on the H-Mideast-Medieval list, May 1999

Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 12:38:41 -0500

Dear List Members,

This may be slightly out of the range of this list, but I am stuck and need help.

Has anyone ever come across ANY reference on, or mention of, the Emirs of al-Yun? To the best of my knowledge, they were a minor and short lived dynasty in what is now Afghanistan, allowed to mint coins in their own name by the Ghaznavids.

If you have any information please e-mail me.

Thanks & Regards,

Sam Kazmi
The NumisART Galleries

Date: Thu, 13 May 1999 13:48:31 -0500

on may 11 i posted a query from dr. kazmi about the amirs of al-yun. he just sent a more detailed query which follows:

Dear List Members:


I am a numismatist specializing in Islamic, Persian and Central Asian coinage. As such, I am researching an almost unknown minor dynasty from Central Asia called the Amirs of al-Yun.

To the best of my knowledge, the Amirs of al-Yun were allowed to mint coins in their own name by the Ghaznavids. The only name of an Amir of al-Yun I have been able to track is of Muhammad bin Pakh.

I recently discovered that the Amirs of al-Yun were mentioned in Hudud al-Alam (=A723, #75). Unfortunately, I do not have access to the work and have been unable to find a translation.

There is also a somewhat cryptic reference to al-Yun in Istakhri, where I have been told that the name is spelled differently and unpointed, with no reference to the local ruler or even to the existence of a separate state.

I am writing to you for your assistance in securing the relevant information from the two works referenced above. It has taken me over a year to even find this much information. I hope that you will be able to help me finish my research.

Warmest Regards,

Sam Kazmi The NumisART Galleries skazmi@numisart.com

Date: Thu, 13 May 1999 15:23:25 -0500

My copy of Minorsky's Translation of Hudud al~Alam (London 1937: EmJ.W.Gibb Memorial Trust, New Series XI), has the following notices on p 109:

(In Tukharistan)
74. Sikimisht is a district (nahiyat) with much cultivation and much grain.
75. behind this Sikimisht there is a small kingdom (padshahi), altogether hills and mountains, called YUN (long u). Its prince (dihqan), called Pakh, draws his strength from the amirs of Khuttalan. Yun produces salt.

On 340, Minorsky suggests that this may be the place identified ambiguously in Ya`qubi with unpointed spelling looking like y (or b)-u-r-s, between Talaqan and Badakhshan. The district of the Chal river (now united with Ishkamish) is well known for its salt-mines. Chal is not well known, but Khost, next to it, was regarded as inexpugnable, and by prince of Yun it is probable that the ruler of Khost is intended. He regards it as significant that it is connected with the amirs of Khuttal.

On 349, he remarks that if the little kingdom of Yun, belonging still to the system of the Qunduz river, was under Khuttal, one cannot help admitting that the Kokcha basin situated east of Yun could not escape the same suzerainty.

I hope this may be of some help. Minorsky's translation will be found in any good library.

John A. Williams, The College of William & Mary jawill@facstaff.wm.edu

Date: Thu, 13 May 1999 15:28:24 -0500

Dear Sam,

I'm sitting here with my copy of Minorsky's translation of the Hudud al-Alam in front of me. p. 109, sect. 75, re, Sikhimisht:; Behind this Sikhimisht there is a small kingdom...called Yun. Its prince, called Pakh, draws his strength from the amir of Khuttalan. Yun produces salt.

340: there is a long note which I cannot reproduce here; mostly geographical; the important point seems to be that the king of Yun was a feudatory of the amir of Khuttal. (Yun seems to be somewhere in Tukharistan, wherever that is.)

349: (notes, as was the above): we have an important indication as to thhe little kingdom of Yun (?) depending on Khutall (with more geographical info.)

Nothing about the Ghaznavids, coinage, etc..; and, of course, the Hudud predates the Ghaznavids.

Hope this helps (for what little it's worth). On the surface of it, it looks like there were some mountains (a mountainous district?), with some local rulers (as there would have been, mountainous districts being what they were); but they haven't really passed down into later history, as far as I know.

Have you tried Muqaddasi's _Aqsam al-taqasim?_ I can't recall offhand if he ever mentions these chaps; probably not.

Julie Meisami, Oxford

Date: Fri, 14 May 1999 13:07:43 -0500

Dear List Members,

Thank you very much for the several replies to my query; some including detailed citations, while others pointing me in directions I would not have thought of myself.

al-Yun's coinage has yet to be published. The only known examples are in the Tübingen University collection and in my collection. For those interested, I will scan the coins and post them on a web site in the near future.

Without some historical information or a story behind it, a coin is no more than a piece of metal. The right or authority to mint coins was a serious matter for these small kingdoms. Hence, for al-Yun to mint coins under Muhammad Pakh must have something behind it. These are not mere local civic copper issues, these are silver dirhams and even multiple dirhams. My comment on a possible relationship with the Ghaznavids is based on one of the dirhams citing Mas'ud I (CE 1030-1041) as overlord along with the name Muhammad Pakh and is dated from the first two years of Mas'ud's reign (AH 421 or AH 422, I can't remember off hand). The dirhams are Ghaznavid in style but with the name Muhammad Pakh and with the mint as al-Yun.

Realizing that Hudud al-=91Alam pre-dates the Ghaznavids, Pakh seems to be either a dynastic name or, more likely, a title. Tübingen researchers date some of their coins about 30 years before Mas'ud's reign. I don't know why as my attempts to get further information on their coins have been a failure.

The bottom line is, what enabled Muhammad Pakh to issue coins at al-Yun in his own name?

Kindest Regards,

Sam Kazmi
The NumisART Galleries