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Inventory no. 39955 - Former Display Label

68
Turkish ASTROLABE
A.H. 1125 = A.D. 1713/4

Signed, on the back of the kursi, 'Designed by {ain}Abdi'; dated, in the upper right-hand quadrant of the back, 'Year 1125 [H]'. Brass. Diam.: 131 mm.

Rete for 22 stars. 4 plates: for latitudes 21°30' [i.e. for Mecca], 24°; 30°, 40°; 41°, 42°; and a tablet of horizons of Eastern type (the reverse side of this plate is unfinished). In addition to the usual unequal-hour lines on the plates, there are lines marked fajr (dawn), {ain}asr (afternoon) and shafaq (twilight), representing the times of Muslim prayer, except on the plate for 21°30' which has only the line, {ain}asr. Such lines representing times of prayer, are common on astrolabes from Muslim Spain and the Maghrib, but are very rarely found on instruments from other parts of the Muslim world. The mater is blank. On the back are: (a) a sine quadrant (rub{ain}ad-dastür), engraved with arcs of sines and 'versed sines', and the arc of the obliquity of the ecliptic; (b) a diagram of equal hours with the line of {ain}asr this diagram is very rare on Islamic astrolabes, but is also found on the astrolabe of A.H. 1114 by Mustafà Ayyubi mentioned below); (c) a diagram of unequal hours; (d) a shadow-square; (e) scales of cotangents; (f) the usual scales of degrees.

This astrolabe belongs to a group of astrolabes of Ottoman Turkish origin. These astrolabes are characterized by the comparative simplicity of their design, compared with that of contemporary Persian and Indo-Persian instruments. Examples of other astrolabes which may be included in this group are: an unsigned and undated astrolabe shown in this case; the astrolabes by Mustafà Ayyubi of A.H. 1110 in the collection of Dr Jacques Schumann, Paris, and of A.H. 1114 in the Science Museum, London; and the astrolabe by Ibrahim al-Mufti, of A.H. 1120, in the Musée de la Vie Wallone, Liége. Superficially, these instruments resemble the later Syro-Egyptian and the earlier astrolabes from Persia, but they differ from them in such details as the patterns of the rete tracery (especially within the ecliptic circle), the shape of the star-pointers, the kursi (usually undecorated), the latitudes for which the plates are made (latitudes in Asia Minor), the positions of the signatures and dates, and the simplicity and clarity of the engraving and lettering. Perhaps most striking is the unusual layout of the scales and graphs on the back, which appears to continue the simple style of the early Syro-Egyptian astrolabists and the early Persian astrolabists of Isfahan.

Formerly in the possession of Bay Fahri Imrek, Balikesir, Turkey.

[57-84/171A; Mayer: {ain}Abdi; B-M: ABDI 1]
Billmeir Collection

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