Paper Money

Iran’s central bank issues two new rial denomination notes

The Central Bank of Iran finally issued the first bank notes in its re-denominated currency series on July 13, including this 10,000-rial denomination.

Images courtesy of the Central Bank of Iran.

The Central Bank of Iran finally issued the first bank notes in its re-denominated currency series on July 13. The new notes are in 10,000- and 20,000-rial denominations and are the equivalent of the old 10 million and 20 million tomans, respectively.

The situation will be confusing, especially to foreigners, and will not be helped by runaway inflation continuing around 40%.

The new notes are the result of a decision in May by Iran’s parliament to slash zeroes off each value to make it easier for consumers to carry cash, calculate prices, and make payments.

Furthermore, over the next two to five years, the rials will be withdrawn from circulation entirely and replaced with a new toman wherein one toman will be equal to 10,000 rials. This explains why the zeroes on the new notes are printed in a lighter color.

The arrangement is actually nothing new to Iranians, who long ago knocked off the zeroes themselves and stopped calculating prices in rials. Instead, even though they used the physical rials as currency, prices were quoted in tomans. At present, for example, one toman equals 10 rials. The system eliminates the need to calculate prices in millions and billions.

The new bank notes are printed on paper and identical in size at 156 millimeters by 71 millimeters.

The common face of each has Farsi inscriptions and is dominated by a stern portrait of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the supreme leader of Iran from when the shah was deposed in 1979 until his death 10 years later. It was under his rule that Iranian college students were allowed to take control of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and hold 52 people hostage for 444 days.

The back of the brown 10,000-rial note shows the Avicenna Mausoleum in Hamedan. Avicenna is the western name for Sheikh al-Rayees Abu Ali Sina (980 to 1037), a famous Iranian philosopher, scientist, and physician who was also called “The Eastern Genius.”

The back side of the blue 20,000-rial note has a rendering of the Mausoleum for Poets in Tabriz. It is the final resting place for 400 poets, mystics, and statesman of Iran and neighboring countries of the last 800 years.

The backs of the two notes have inscriptions in Farsi and English.

Other countries that are known for lopping off zeroes as a putative antidote to inflation are Argentina, Brazil, Nigeria, Turkey, and most famously, Zimbabwe.

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