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Norman tarì of Roger II of Sicily, with Arabic inscriptions, minted in Palermo. Now in the British Museum.
A pre-Norman Sicilian ruba'i/tarì in the name of Caliph Al-Mustansir. British Museum.
A pre-Norman Sicilian ruba'i/tarì in the name of Caliph Al-Hakim, 1005. British Museum.

A tarì (from Arabic طري ṭarī, lit. "fresh" or "newly minted money")[1] was the Christian designation of a type of gold coin of Islamic origin minted in Sicily, Malta and Southern Italy from about 913 to the 13th century.[2]


In the Islamic world, this type of coin was designated under the name ruba'i, or quarter-dinar, as it weighed 1.05g of gold.[3] The ruba'i had been minted by the Muslims in Sicily, unlike the Muslim rulers of North Africa, who preferred the larger dinar.[4] It became highly popular as it was smaller and therefore more convenient than the large-sized 4.25g dinar.[5]

The tarì were so widespread that imitations were made in southern Italy (Amalfi and Salerno) from the mid-tenth century, which only used illegible "pseudo-Kufic" imitations of Arabic.[6][7][8] When the Normans invaded Sicily in the 11th century, they issued tarì coins bearing legends in Arabic and Latin.[9] Roger II of Sicily issued such coins, becoming the only Western ruler at that time to mint gold coins. Their composition was 16​13 carat gold with some adjunction of silver and copper.[10] The tarì were also produced by the Hohenstaufens and the early Angevins.[11]

The tarì coins were generally minted from African gold obtained from Misrata or Tunis in Northern Africa in exchange for grain.[12]

Nowadays, the tari is a subunit (1/12th) of the scudo, souvenir coins issued by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.



  1. ^ Cardini, p. 26
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Cardini, p. 26
  4. ^ Matthew, p. 240
  5. ^ Grierson, p. 3
  6. ^ Cardini, p. 26
  7. ^ Grierson, p. 3
  8. ^ Matthew, p. 240
  9. ^ British Museum, Islamic Art room
  10. ^ Matthew, p. 240
  11. ^ Blanchard, p. 196
  12. ^ Blanchard, p. 196

Works citedEdit

  • Blanchard, Ian. Mining, Metallurgy and Minting in the Middle Ages. Franz Steiner Verlag, 2001. ISBN 978-3-515-07958-7 [2]
  • Cardini, Franco. Europe and Islam. Blackwell Publishing, 2001. ISBN 978-0-631-22637-6 [3]
  • Grierson, Philip. Medieval European Coinage. Cambridge University Press, 1998. ISBN 978-0-521-58231-5 [4]
  • Matthew, Donald, The Norman kingdom of Sicily Cambridge University Press, 1992 ISBN 978-0-521-26911-7 [5]

See alsoEdit