History of Science Museum: Collection Database Search


Special Exhibition Label: 'Al-Mizan: Sciences and Arts in the Islamic World' (26/10/2010 - 20/03/2011)

Craft Manufacture

Family Portrait

The instruments on this shelf represent four generations of an astrolabe-making family from 16th- and 17th-century Lahore. From left to right the makers are Allah-dad, the founder of the workshop, c. 1570; Diya' al-Din Muhammad, his great-grandson, 1658/9; Muhammad Muqim, a grandson, 1641/2; Qa'im Muhammad, another grandson, 1634/5.

The strength of family traditions in metalworking was remarked on at other times and places. A medieval Italian pilgrim marvelled at what he saw in 14th-century Damascus: 'The order they have among them is a beautiful and noble thing, for if the father is a goldsmith, the sons cannot ever have a trade other than this, and so they go from generation to generation so that of necessity they must be perfect masters of their arts.'

MHS inv. 47376; MHS inv. 53637; MHS inv. 46935; MHS inv. 42730 (left to right)

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