Asia, Central Asia, Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan – Yanardag-The Horse

Detail from back of 50 manat banknote of Turkmenistan.

The Akhal-Teke horse of Turkmen, with its distinctive metallic sheen, is renowned for speed endurance, intelligence and courage.

It’s ancestry dates back thousands of years.  Some consider it one of the original four horse “types” to have crossed the Bearing Strait from the Americas in prehistoric times.

It is said there are, currently, less than 7,000 Akhal-Tekes in the world, mostly in Turkmenistan and Russia.

 

The state emblem of Turkmenistan adorns the front side of the 50 manat banknote.

At the center of the Turkmenistan Emblem of State, within the blue circle, stands Yanardag, the Akhal-Teke horse born in the year of independence from the Soviet Union, 1991.

The Turkmen name, Yanardag, translates in to “Fiery Mountain”.

Yanardag was named world champion of the breed in 1999 and has become a symbol of national pride to Turkmenis.  He subsequently was acquired by Saparmurat Niazov, the president of Turkmenistan from 1990 through 2006.

 

Turkmenistan 50 manat banknote, back, featuring the magnificent Akhal-Teke horse.

 

Turkmenistan 50 manat banknote, featuring President Saparmurat Niazov. and the Turkmen coat of arms

 

 

 

 

 

 

Front: Former President Dictator Saparmurat Niazov. Turkmen coat of arms. Back: Akhal-Teke horse.
Hippodrome. Main colour: Purple. Watermark: Portrait of the deceased Turkmenbashi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asia, Central Asia, Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan – The Madrassah with Lions

 

Detail from back of Uzbekistan 1997 200 som banknote
detail over the portal of the Sher-Dor Madrassah

The image of is the sun with a face rising over the back of a liger, a lion-tiger.  It is found in a mosaic on Sher-Dor Madrasah portal at Registan Square in Samarkand.  The mosaic is somewhat remarkable in the images of humans and animals are generally prohibited from Islamic art.

Sher-Dor Madrasah, translated, means Madrassah with Lions.

Registan Square is framed by three great Madrassahs of distinctive Islamic architecture, The Sher-Dor, featured on this banknote, the Ulugh Beg, the oldest of the three, and the Tilya Kori, the youngest of the three.

Three Madrassahs form Registan Square. The Sher Dor is on the right.
The Sher Dor Madrassah.
Uzbekistan 1997 banknote, back, 200 som.

The State Seal of Uzbekistan is featured on the front of the 200 som banknote.

The sun is rising over a valley.  Bolls of cotton on the left and sheaves of wheat on the right surround the legendary bird of happiness, spreading its wings.  The crescent moon with star are symbols of Muslim blessing.  The surrounding eight pointed star symbolizes unity.  Beneath the name Uzbekistan is on the tri-colored flag.

 

 

 

 

Uzbekistan 200 som banknote, front, 1997

 

Europe, Italy, Mediterranean Europe

Italy – Maria Montessori – The Magnificent

Scientific observation has established that education is not what the teacher gives; education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment. The task of the teacher becomes that of preparing a series of motives of cultural activity, spread over a specially prepared environment, and then refraining from obtrusive interference. Human teachers can only help the great work that is being done, as servants help the master. Doing so, they will be witnesses to the unfolding of the human soul and to the rising of a New Man who will not be a victim of events, but will have the clarity of vision to direct and shape the future of human society. – Maria Montessori, Education for a New World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Central America, Honduras, North America

Honduras – Lempira, The Lord of the High Places

Three thousand years ago, a people, known as the Lenca, traveled from the great continent known as South America northward, along the narrow isthmus between the two great oceans, through the rainforests of Central America, and settled finally in the highlands of the region we now call Honduras.  When the Spaniards sought conquest in the 1500s, a leader rose up among them, to defend them, and to preserve their culture.  His presence, 500 years ago, resonates to this day.  He is remembered in Honduras on this banknote, in the stories told among the Lenca, and in this post.

Spaniards first landed on the Yucatan in 1517.  So novel was their appearance, their ships and their horses, the news of their arrival would travel swiftly the 300 miles to the Honduran homeland of the Lenca.  Lempira was a young man when this news arrived, perhaps 18 or 20 years old.  No longer associating with the children of the community, he would travel with the men, but listen as a young man, to the wisdom of his elders.  The first reports were that the visitors were very few in number and they were respectful, bringing strange gifts.  The elders were curious, but unconcerned.  Four years later, in the Summer of 1521, like an arrow shot, the news would travel that the capital city of the mighty Aztecs, had fallen to the newcomers.  The elders, perhaps, looked at one another in silence, with deepening lines of concern on their faces, while the young men watched and listened in silence.  Lempira would be in his early to middle 20s, and restless.

Detail from back of Un Lempira banknote of Honduras

With creeping slowness, due in part to a confused administration, the conquistadors presence grew in central America.  Like an advance messenger of doom, European diseases would reach through the jungle to a tribe, weakening them; and then sometime later, horsed and armored conquistadors would arrive, and defeat would inevitably follow.  In 1533, a Spanish conquistador received royal decree to enter the region of Honduras.  Lempira would be about 33 years old.  He’d be sitting with the elders.

Detail from back of Un Lempira banknote of Honduras

It is likely that, around this time, the great meeting was held with the leaders of 200 villages.  Some say it was called by Lempira; perhaps, but it was certainly concluded by Lempira.  He stood up before the 200 with a question, a promise and an offer.  He first asked how it was possible that so many bold men could be subdued by so few foreigners in their own land.  During the murmuring of obvious dangers, he spoke a second time.  He promised them that he, Lempira, would face the greatest dangers.  With this, the unspoken question before the 200 shifted.  It was no longer what should they do, but whether or not they would join Lempira, because it was obvious that he was going to fight.  Lempira spoke one more time.  He offered to lead as many of them as were willing to fight, because he, Lempira, certainly intended to fight.  If he was not a leader going into this meeting, he was the leader coming out of it.  The 200 villages united behind him and an army of 30,000 joined him.

Map of Western Honduras, showing the region of the Lenca, and the mighty fortress, Penol de Cerquin

For a decade, Lempira had been watching and listening, learning the ways of the Spaniards.  Though their numbers were few, with their muskets, their armor and their horses, they were undefeatable in open battle.  Lempira would change the terms of the battle.  He would let the strength of the land fight for the Lenca.  He would have the knowledge of his people fight for them.  He designated five rocky hill tops, surrounded by forests, as key defensive positions for the nation; Cerquin Rock, Congolon Peak, Coyocutena hill, El Broquel, and Gualasapa hill.  He extended these high places with terraces and retaining walls, and built storerooms with defensible accesses.  When he had filled the strongholds with ample supplies and gathered his warriors, he would be ready.  In the mid 1530s, the Spaniards began to pass back and forth through Lencan territory, but Lempira left them alone, and they began to think Honduras was conquered.

*******

It is said, that Lempira had said, that the killing of three Spaniards would be the sign.  In 1537, three Spaniards passing near the Peñol de Cerquín were attacked and killed.  This attack greatly disturbed the Spanish Governor at the time, Montejo, for he had begun to consider the area pacified.  He therefore sent an attack force to the region.  And Lempira declared war.

 

The following is selected from Wikipedia:

Lempira sent messages to the native auxiliaries of the Spanish, exhorting them to abandon their foreign overlords and join his forces, but they refused.   It was only with the declaration of war that the Spanish became aware of the threat presented by Lempira and his alliance. Although the immediate threat was limited to the region close to the Peñol de Cerquín, the Spanish realised that the rebellion at such a strong fortress was a powerful symbol of native independence throughout Higueras. Montejo immediately dispatched Cáceres against Lempira with 80 well-armed Spanish soldiers, accompanied by Mexican and Guatemalan Indian auxiliaries.  Montejo sent messengers requesting assistance from Santiago de Guatemala and San Salvador.

Siege at the Peñol de Cerquín

On 1 November 1537, Cáceres arrived at the Peñol de Cerquín. He immediately sent envoys to Lempira, requesting his submission; Lempira executed the envoys and declared his defiance. In response, Cáceres launched a direct assault against the fortress but found it impregnable. No roads climbed the mountain, and sheer wall prevented attempts to climb it. Well-engineered defences manned by large numbers of gathered warriors prevented the Spanish from storming the approaches, and horses were useless on the steep terrain. Cáceres had no choice except to lay close siege to the Peñol. He divided his men equally amongst the eight approaches to the fortress, and fierce fighting ensued, in which five Spaniards were killed and many were injured, including Cáceres. The siege held firm, but was unable to gain any ground.

General uprising

While Cáceres was engaged in what would evidently be a lengthy siege, Montejo sent a column of Spanish soldiers into the area around Gracias a Dios; he sent a second column, with 20 Spaniards accompanied by native auxiliaries, south to the Valley of Xocorro. Montejo led a third column in person, taking 23 Spanish soldiers to Comayagua. He also sent a message ahead, for Santa María de Comayagua to send support to Cáceres at the Peñol, and fourteen soldiers marched from there to join the siege.  The Xocorro column was forced to return to Santa María de Comayagua after falling afoul of the Spanish authorities in San Miguel, who claimed they were infringing upon their jurisdiction.

About two months into the siege of the Peñol de Cerquín, the majority of Spanish soldiers in Honduras were concentrated around the fortress. Small groups were scattered elsewhere, and both Gracias a Dios and Santa María de Comayagua were dangerously vulnerable, with almost no soldiers left there. Seeing the vulnerability of the Spanish positions across the greater province, Lempira declared a general uprising. The whole region south of the Peñol rose up, as well as neighbouring parts of El Salvador around San Salvador and San Miguel, where they caused serious damage to the Spanish. The Comayagaua Valley joined the revolt, as did the mountain regions around San Pedro, and outlying areas around Trujillo.

The column of sixteen Spaniards retreating from Xocorro were ambushed at Guaxeregui and killed to a man. The only survivor of the expedition was a seriously wounded African slave. The reinforcements sent from Comayagua to the Peñol were also attacked in Cares, and had to fight their way through to join the Spanish at the Peñol, suffering considerable hardship. The citizens of Santa María de Comayagua appealed to Montejo for help, and he sent a dozen mixed cavalry and infantry, who managed to break through the hostile natives encircling the settlement, and reinforce the town,  where they were cut off from further Spanish assistance.  Montejo was left with only eleven soldiers, and returned to Gracias a Dios to protect the colonists there, who included women and children. The Indians killed isolated Spaniards wherever they could find them. The natives, seeing the success of their fortress at Cerquín, started construction of a similar fortress near Gracias a Dios, and gathered a great quantity of supplies in storehouses there. Montejo urgently needed to halt their progress, but was unable to attack directly. Instead, he sent an African servant who managed to set the storehouses ablaze. The dismayed Indians of that district then sued for peace.  A local Indian ruler called Mota plotted to attack Gracias a Dios, but the plan was betrayed to Monetejo. In a lighning raid, Mota was seized and taken back to Gracias as a prisoner, only to escape and resume his plans for an assault. Montejo eventually discovered his hiding place and launched another rapid raid, and kept him hostage in Gracias under close guard as guarantor of his people, thus defusing the immediate threat against Gracias a Dios.  

The natives launched a furious mass assault against Santa María de Comayagua. The depleted garrison fought its way out under cover of night and set out on a desperate march to Gracias a Dios, leaving the town to be sacked – not even the livestock were spared. All across the province the Spanish were short of soldiers, arms and supplies, except at the Peñol de Cerquín, which remained the focus of Spanish attention.  In a very short period of time, Spanish control had collapsed across Honduras; only two small Spanish pockets remained – at Gracias and San Pedro. Montejo sent Gonzalo de Alvarado to San Salvador to seek assistance, which was readily supplied in the form of 100 Indian auxiliaries, 1000 Indian carriers, livestock, arquebuses, crossbows, gunpowder, ammunition, shields, spears, armour and iron.   Further supplies were forthcoming from San Miguel, but similar requests sent to Guatemala were largely rebuffed, as a response to Montejo’s policies which were perceived as undermining the rights of Guatemalan colonists.  

Death of Lempira and the fall of the Peñol de Cerquín, 1538  

The siege at the Peñol de Cerquín dragged on for months, with constant fighting. The Spanish there numbered about a hundred, plus auxiliaries, but were unable to maintain supply lines through the surrounding hostile territory, and were often short of food. The seasonal rains that arrived in spring 1538 only added to their hardship.   The supplies from El Salvador finally arrived, and Cáceres slowly gained territory around the Peñol. After six months, Cáceres invited Lempira to a parley. Lempira arrived, dressed in full regalia, cotton armour, and plumed headdress, accompanied by a retinue of nobles. Cáceres sent a mounted soldier to request his surrender, and when Lempira refused, a carefully hidden arquebusier shot him through the head. This was a signal for an all-out surprise attack by the Spanish.  The Indians responded with complete panic at the death of their leader, and the Spanish onslaught swiftly took the fortress without any Spanish loss of life, although some were wounded.  A portion of the indigenous garrison retreated to nearby mountains, but most of the Indians surrendered without further resistance, including a great many women, children and elderly. Cáceres followed Montejo’s instructions in dealing with the defeated natives with moderation. He followed native custom and sent gifts of textiles and fowls to the native leaders, as a symbol of peace, accompanied by a spear as a promise of war should they refuse to submit. After a council, the Indian leaders accepted peace, and the region passed immediately under Spanish control. Cáceres released all his prisoners to return to their villages, a move that surprised the natives, who had expected harsh punitive measures. The fall of Lempira’s stronghold was followed by the speedy capitulation of a wide area of Honduras, and came at a critical juncture for the Spanish, when they had been at the point of losing the province.

 

 

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Today, the Spanish are not remembered well, but the Lenca culture continues.  The people live as the largest indigenous community in Honduras, maintaining, in many details, their pre-Columbus way of life; and Lempira is revered among them.  Every hour of every day, Hondurans exchange value for value in commerece, labor for products, products for labor, and the medium of exchange is the Lempira.  His name means, in the Lenca tongue, the lord of the high places.

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As said by Honduran historian Mario Felipe Martinez Castillo, Virtually in the main square of every town or city Honduran we find a statue in his honor. In this case, in the main square of the town of Gracias, Lempira Department.  This photo and further information about Lempira by Mr. Castillo is from this website.

And, we might add, on every banknote we find this might man honored.  All of these banknotes, with all of these famous people, events and scenes from Honduras, have this in common; Everyone’s value is based upon Lempira.  

 

Front
Back

Un Lempira

 

 

 

 

Front
Back

Dos Lempiras

 

 

 

 

Front
Back

Cinco Lempiras

 

 

 

 

Front
Back

Diez Lempiras

 

 

 

 

Front
Back

Veinte Lempiras

 

 

 

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Amazon Basin, Brazil, South America

Brazil – Villa-Lobos, The Amazon’s Faithful Witness

Brazil, 500 Cruzados, front

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From wikipedia:  He was ….coming to terms with the conflicting elements in his experience, and overcoming a crisis of identity, as to whether European or Brazilian music would dominate his style. This was decided by 1916, the year in which he composed the symphonic poems Amazonas and Tédio de alvorada, the first version of what would become Uirapurú (although Amazonas was not performed until 1929, and Uirapurú was only completed in 1934 and first performed in 1935). These works drew from native Brazilian legends and the use of “primitive” folk material. 

The Musical score, “Uirapuru“, is mingled with the floating Vitoria Regia in this illustration on our banknote, such that it’s not clear if the music is background or foreground to the Amazon’s floating lily pads, for they are as equal.  And that “mingling” is depicted beside the mind of the master, as, perhaps, emanating from him; or perhaps, he is merely a witness of the Amazon’s grandeur, and his score is his faithful chronicle.

The keyboard, depicted on our banknote, is oriented unexpectedly, but, likely, perfectly.  For it is the Amazon that produces the music upon our instruments.  And, perhaps, it’s not so much that we create the music, as that the music is there, and it is discovered.

The piece was dedicated to Serge Lifar, the Ukrainian ballet choreographer and dancer, following his ensemble’s performance to the music.
The Victoria Regia is the 2 meter diameter lily pad of the Amazon, and the Uirapuru is the indigenous bird of jungle legend.

 

 

 

 

Balkan Peninsula, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, South East Europe, Yugoslavia

Republika Srpska – The Fortress of Knin

The name Republica Srpska, was adopted August 12, 1992.  This event, together with all the political turmoil overtaking the former Yugoslav republic, led to war, which lasted until the Autumn of 1995.

1993 Banknote of Republic Of Serbia Krajina, front. The nomination, 10,000,000 dinaris is believed to be the largest prepared.

It is doubtful, but uncertain, that the banknote featured on this post, was ever formally issued.  The huge nomination is similar to that of Yugoslavian banknotes of the same decade, and indicates that the new Republic of Serbia shared in the same woes of hyperinflation.  The number, deset milliard signifies Ten Billion, deset meaning ten, and milliard meaning billion.

 

 

 

table of Yugoslav nations and their currencies from Wikipedia

The table to the right, illustrates the place of the short-lived Republic of Serbia during what came to be known as the Yugoslav Wars at the end of the 20th century.  These were considered the deadliest wars in Europe since WWII.

 

 

 

 

 

detail from back of 10,000,000,000 dinari banknote

The ancient fortress of Knin is featured on the reverse of this banknote.  It is the 2nd largest in all of Europe.

Construction on the stronghold began in the 9th century.  In the 11th century it served as the royal residence.

It consists of 5 interconnected towers and towns.  They are named the Donji Grad (Lower Town), Srednji Grad (Middle Town), Gornji Grad (Upper Town) or Kaštel Knin, Kaštel lab or Bandijera, and Južni Grad (South Town) or station Belveder. It is about 1500 feet above sea level and 300 feet above the town of Knin below.  It is 1500 feet long and about 330 feet wide with walls as high as 60 feet in several areas.

 

10,000,000,000 banknote from Republika Srpska Krijana, back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Indian Ocean, Island Nations, Maldives

Maldives – Beautiful Banknotes

The Republic of Maldives brings to us Beauty.  Enjoy!

Maldives banknote, front, 5 Rufiyaa

Cowrie Shells

Cowrie shells, illustrated left, were used as an early currency in Maldives.  An article on the use of Cowrie shells as money can be found here.

Coconuts

 

Coconut Palms are the national tree on the Maldives.  They grow in abundance throughout the islands.  A strange tale of their history is told here.

 

 

 

Kalhu’oh’fummi

The ship, the Kalhu’oh’fummi, was used by three brothers, Muhanmed Thakurufaanu and Ali and Hassan, in the liberation of the Maldives in the 16th century.

In 1558 the Portuguese established a small garrison in the Maldives and tried to impose Christianity on the locals.  I was still early in the era of colonialization.

The Portuguese rule was described in an Arabic chronicle as ‘‘a time when intolerable enormities were committed by the invading infidels, a time when the sea grew red with Maldivian blood, a time when people were sunk in despair…’’
In 1573, a leader arose, Muhammad Thakurufaanu Al-Azam and his two brothers to organize a revolt.

To bring an end to this, Muhammad Thakurufaanu, left the Maldive Islands for Maliku, an island about 440 miles north of Maldives, and now known as Minicoy.  There the three brothers built their ship and returned to Maldives determined to liberate their people.

It is said that he three brothers landed on a different island every night.  They fought the Portuguese during the darkness and set sail again into the ocean before daybreak. The Portuguese garrison had fixed a day for the forcible conversion of inhabitants to Christianity.  The brothers landed on that island, Male, the night before.  During the night they defeated that garrison and gained independence for their country, ending fifteen years of colonial rule.

The date is celebrated now as National Day.  In 2018, National Day is occurs on November 9.  The date varies with the Islamic calendar.

Maldives banknote, back, 5 Rufiyaa

Fishing scenes illustrate the back of this banknote.  As said by former a President, “Fishing is the lifeblood of our nation, it is inborn. From the soil on which we live, to the sea around us, it remains an integral part of our existence. Fishing, and our country and its people, [are] one and shall remain inseparable forever.”

The traditional fishing vessel is the “Dhivehi Odi”.  It resembles the dhow, a traditional Arabian sailing ship.  It is handcrafted in the islands from coconut timber.

 

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