Saturday, February 11, 2012

The six pointed star and the crescent

Contemporary Crescent and six pointed Star in the old City of Jerusalem. in Arabic this crescent emblem is called hilal.
Photo: Ze'ev Barkan
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It is interesting to notice that the origin of the famous Islamic symbol of the five pointed star and the crescent was not Islamic but Sassanian, and at first it had six points.  The five pointed star and the crescent actually became a symbol of Islam only during the 19th century, sporting on the Ottoman flag from 1793. It entered the Turkish Flag in 1923 and then it had been adopted by other Muslim countries.  Actually the Crescent and six pointed Star appear already on a roman Denarius minted by Augustus (27 BC-CE 14)
Photo from Wikipedia entry: File:Augustus_denarius_coin_star_crescent
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Coin of King Juba II of Numidia 
52/50 BC – CE 23
King Juba II was a close friend of Augustus 

And on byzantine Drachma from  52-42 BCE

Michael G. Morony in his book Iraq after the Muslim conquest p. 40 writes that the star and the crescent were combined for the first  time on the coins of Khosrau I the twentieth Sassanid Emperor (also called Chosroes I, and Anushirvan  (r. 531–579. Hurmizd IV replaced the six pointed star in some of his coins with a five pointed star. This tradition continued on coins of the seventh century.  After the conquest of Iraq the Muslim Government accepted  these coins as well. This tradition lasted until 695 or 696, when coins were minted without any images.

Picture from Wikipedia entry: Khosrau I

Yoel Natan in his book Moon-o-theism: religion of a war and moon god prophet Vol. 2 p. 434 wrote that  "In ottoman times the crescent and the star became emblems on Muslim battle flags and royal standards.
Chief Hizir Hayreddin (Barbarossa) was the Great Admiral of the navy of Suleiman the Magnificent from 1534 until his death on 1546. Now the flag is at the Naval Museum of Istanbul.

Picture is copied from Wikipedia
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Christian Star surrounding Muslin Crescent in a Mosaic Pavement at the 8th century Monastery of St. Euthymius in Mishor Adumin. The Monastery  was built by members of an Arab Tribe which lived nearby.

Photo by Sakra (c) 2011
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Provisional - 1915 overprint on 1892 Turkish stamp
Picture from Wikipedia entry Postage stamps and postal history of Turkey
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1923 Riffan Banknote
The Republic of the Rif  (North Morocco) was created in 1921
Image from Wikipedia entry Rif Republic

"Before the 14th century, the crescent and star does not seem to have been associated with Islam at all, and appears in Christian iconography. Miniature illustrating the victory of the Mongols (left) over the Mamluks (right) at the Battle of Homs (14th-century illustration from a manuscript of the History of the Tatars). The flag of the Mamluks is shown as a black star and crescent on a red field. The crescent is facing the hoist, and the star is shown as a six-pointed mullet".

Crescent and six pointed Star from the seal of the 
Jewish Community of Regensburg, Germany, Middle ages

Jewish star and crescent in  early 14th century, Spain, Mocatta Hagaddha


See Also an article in French

1 comment:

Darayvus said...

I wonder if any of the earlier caliphs adopted the Star of David. Davidic imagery in poetry and propaganda is strong, especially for Abd al-Malik. See, Crone and Hinds, "God's Caliph".