In the 1200s the Mongols conquered Persia (and a few other places). The portion of the empire in Persia was known as the Ilkhanate, ruled over by the ilkhan.

Influenced by Chinese paper money, the ilkhan Gaykhatu introduced paper money in his realm, but it was a disaster, and was generally not accepted for trade.

Does anyone know what the ilkhan's paper money looked like?

Or has it been lost to time?

Chinese/Yuan money of that era is still known: Yuan money

  • Acc to the Wiki page 'Chao (currency)', it was a close imitation of the Chinese money.
    – neubau
    Commented Mar 12, 2015 at 2:01

1 Answer 1


Gaykhatu Khan's paper money was visually similar to the contemporary Chinese notes. It was an oblong certificate, block printed on possibly papyrus or bark paper. The Islamic creed of Shahada was printed at the top, followed by Gaykhatu's name, as Irinjin Turji, in Arabic. The denomination was printed at the centre of the note, and encircled. Beneath this was inscribed a disclaimer:

The Padishah of the World introduced this blessed paper money into the empire in the year 693. He who forges it or alters it in any way will be put to death with wife and child and his property will be confiscated by the state.

The certificate was stamped in red ink with the state seal, which apparently contained stylised Chinese characters. Reportedly, there were also several Chinese characters near the edges. This might have been decorative patterns misinterpreted by chroniclers, though.

Unfortunately there are no known surviving examples of this paper money. Which is unsurprising, considering that the disastrous attempt lasted mere months, and Gaykhatu himself was killed the following year. Most of what we know thus comes from literary records.

Source: Jahn, Karl. "Paper Currency in Iran: A Contribution to the Cultural and Economic History of Iran in the Mongol Period." Journal of Asian History (1970): Vol. 4, No. 2, p. 101-135.

  • 1
    This is a great answer. I would love to see a picture to go with it, but I wouldn't be surprised if a description is all that's available.
    – Joe
    Commented Mar 12, 2015 at 16:52

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