Coins of the Lunar EmpireG'day all,

Date: Sun 21 May 1995 - 17:09:15 EEST

Coins of the Empire


Note: I am not entirely happy with the article yet, but the recent splurge of stuff on coins has prompted me to send it in. Obviously, it lacks the visual impact actual pictures of coins, which would accompany the article.

"It is the custom and cheer for the Emperor to change his form to suit the needs of the time and place. This custom began after the Nights of Horror, where the Emperor and most of his household and staff, were killed.

"The differences in these Emperors can be seen in the coinage of the Empire. The mints attempt to keep up to date for each mask, and new stampings are regularly commissioned even for a single emperor."
...from a Lunar document, circa 7/50

The Procession of Masks:
The Philokhartis Collection

Inogmus Philokhartis was, in his own words, a "humble bean-counter in the outer ministry", though he has left us with a unique coin collection; tiny in comparison with other great collections perhaps, but unsurpassed in the way it captures the essence of the men who long ago ruled the once-mighty Lunar Imperium, which stretched from the far west to the sea.

Philokhartis set out to collect just one coin for each of the Masks (or incarnations) of the Red Emperor, but that one coin must encapsulate that particular Mask's character completely. The collection became famous, in its day, sparking off a fad for things "Lunarish" and his collection had many imitators, all inferior to his own except in one respect: whereas the other collections may have contained genuine Lunar coins, we now suspect that all the coins in The Procession are spectacular forgeries, created by Philokhartis himself and for his own amusement. Although infuriatingly evasive about the provenance of his collection, he never tried to pass off his coins as genuine, nor ever attempted to sell them, so there was no crime. Soon after his death (ironically, Philokhartis was 'strangled by the state' for tax evasion), experienced numismaticists were able to gain close inspection of the collection, and found, to their embarassment, that the coins were most likely composites of real coins from the period, but almost certainly fake to the last.

Nevertheless, the collection, and Philokhartis's descriptions, remain a valuable reference for the great Lunar period, of which so little survives today. It is in this spirit that we present the collection here, with Dara Happan and Carmanian coins for comparative purposes.

Pre-Lunar Coinage -
Dara Happa

In Dara Happan times, coins were minted by express authority of the Dara Happan Senates of each city in the Tripolis. These coins invariably featured the radiant sun, depicting Yelm as Emperor of the Universe, and, by extension, the universal dominion of the reigning Dara Happan Emperor. The visage of the emperor himself was rarely depicted, even on the reverse side: it was enough to know his authority came from Yelm above. Instead, the reverse sides featured designs or inscriptions denoting the place of minting. For example, the reverse side of the coin featured here depicts the immense statue of Raiba, city god of Raibanth.

Infuriatingly for the numismaticist, Dara Happan gold coins were never dated, another conscious attempt to signify the ageless dominion of Dara Happan power.

The coin depicted here is a typical Raibanth solidus, an immense gold coin used more as a unit of exchange than actual currency. These coins were often broken up (following the sun rays on the obverse). Whole coins from the pre-Lunar period are now very rare and hence extremely valuable. Unfortunately, this coin dates from the reign of the Lunar Emperor Magnificus (4/51 - 5/43), when permission was granted for the Dara Happan mints to resume making the solidi. Although the principle of the solidus as unit of exchange had long become a mere mathematical abstraction (no longer requiring the actual coins), Magnificus was insistent that such coins again be made, to proclaim to all and sundry that a true heir to the Dara Happan throne once again ruled the empire. The inscription (often lacking on bona fide Dara Happan solidi) around the rim proclaims the fact.

Pre-Lunar Coinage - Carmania

Carmanian coinage is distinctive and unusual for two things: first, much of it is minted in brass (mined at Kitor), and second, their kings (or Shahs) were always depicted in the symbolic act of killing lions, rather than as simple busts or portraits.

Fig.2 is a unique Lunar coin, minted in the reign of Emperor Artistos (5/43 - 6/5). Unlike Magnificus before him, he was acclaimed in Raibanth, not Carmania. This coin was minted in what the Dara Happans took to be old Carmanian style to convince the westerners of the emperor's new identity. Unfortunately, the coin was far too "Dara Happan" for the Carmanians' liking (for one, the emperor was unclothed, like a classical wrestler, and - perhaps worse, unbearded!), and was quickly replaced with more acceptable brass coinage minted at Kitor.

The reverse side features the unquenchable torch, symbol of the city of Yuthuppa and presumably the site of minting, although no brass mines lay nearby.

The Philokhartis Collection:

The most dramatic coin in the collection, this (Fig. 3) was minted in 5/4 to commemorate the Red Emperor's subjugation of the imposter Deogratius. Magnificus clearly shows the Carmanian roots that were to never leave him during his long reign by standing on the neck of the False Emperor. With this classic symbol of domination, M agnificus was able to demonstrate to those of his subjects who had erroneously followed the imposter that he was indeed their true ruler.

The coin, minted in pure silver to contrast with the coppery coins of Deogratius, received only limited circulation in the Darjiin province where the false emperor met his end. Interestingly, the coin depicts Magnificus as clean-shaven, though he is known to have worn a beard. Perhaps this was to appear more presentable to those the coin was intended for, who had followed a clean-skinned imposter for many years?

The reverse side depicts Magnificus's famous victory over Sheng Seleris, with the barbarian warlord broken in pieces at his feet. This is the usual image of a bearded Magnificus, on the obverse side of all other extant coins from the reign. It makes this coin unique, in that if features the emperor's portrait on both sides (and is one of the many reasons numismaticist cite as evidence the Philokhartis collection is bogus).

The First False Red Emperor:

Deogratius was the first False Red Emperor, a great man in his own right, yet unworthy to rule as Moonson Imperator. A general, reknown for his victories over the horse nomads, he revealed himself as the Lord of Five Quarters at a ceremony in the Darjiin city of Haranshold, meant to mark the anticipated Third Return of Takenegi. Much to the chagrin of the presiding priests, he was acclaimed by his men, raised on a shield in the old fashion, and ruled over . Those priests that failed to recognize him were torn limb from limb by his soldiers, who worshipped his abilities to defeat nomads at a time when the horseman ranged freely across the Pelorian lowlands. Deogratius spent the next 19 years in almost constant warfare, his capital moving from to place, and his subjects at some times few, at other times, many.

Said to be a Talastarian from birth, Deogratius affected the style of the old Lunar court, yet never ventured east of the Oslir, nor into Dara Happan lands. In 4/46 the Dara Happan Senate of Raibanth invited him to the contest of the 10 tests, to prove his legitimacy. Deogratius refused, claiming his war against the nomads was of more import than some "empty ritual". It is significant that during his fruitless pursuit of the real Red Emperor, Sheng Seleris ignored Deogratius, though he was more than willing to fight his armies. (Then again, Deogratius constantly referred his "Red Mother Above" and claimed to emphatically be her son: no evil came of this; that is, until the advent of the true Red Emperor, Magnificus.

Magnificus underwent the contest of the 10 Tests and so proved his legitimacy to the lords of Dara Happa. He went further though, and proved it to the world, by defeating and destroying the nemesis of the Empire, Sheng.

For eight years, Deogratius continued to rule as False Red Emperor, moving his camp constantly and exacting tribute from the people. Magnificus was first wont to be merciful, but later hunted Deogratius down ruthlessly.

Finally, inevitably, Deogratius, broken and deserted by all, was brought before Magnificus in chains. As he was dragged into the tent by the two Great Sisters, the Emperor noted that somehow Deogratius's captors had forgotten to remove the crimson buskins, and he turned his head away, feigning not to notice the imposter*. It was only when the slippers were removed that Magnificus accepted him into his presence, and having done so, stood on his neck in the Old Spolite fashion to show the world that the imposter had submitted. He then treated Deogratius with the utmost courtesy. He was permitted to retire to his estates in Talastar, though Magnificus kept his eyes, tongue and his generative organ so that he could never again be acceptable to the people. These items Magnificus kept as amusing novelties for his many children, though most were returned to Deogratius many years later.

Contemporary accounts speak of Deogratius as a splendid man, standing at least nine spans tall and possessed of great physical potency. The coin portrait here fails to capture such an essence and is in fact a fairly artless attempt to depict him in the guise of the Red Emperor: note the crown, which proclaims him as both Lord of the Five Quarters and (with the combined Moon/Sun symbol), Moonson Imperator and Emperor of Dara Happa, all titles he neither deserved nor made serious attempts to capture.

This coin is minted in copper with a silver wash, and though obviously meant to reflect the same value of the standard silver Imperial, was probably worth far less in practice. Crudely minted, it comes from the Yolp Mountains, and was probably minted at Haranshold, at various times Deogratius's capital during his extraordinary career.

*It is said he turned to conspicuously study the chess board he always kept at his side on campaign (even though it was not his turn). This has given rise to the Darjiin idiomatic expression, "I'll be studying my pieces" meaning to avert one's eyes to ignore an otherwise embarrassing or compromising situation.

Soldiers of the Red Moon

Soren Petersen:
>Well, it looks like "Soldiers of the Red Moon" is about to hit the
>stores soon-ish.

As the writer, I can unequivocally say "no it isn't". Sorry, but I am still working on it, and at a pace much slower than I would like.

Sorry, but the real world has had an unfortunate tendency to intrude into my creative time of late.



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