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Inventory no. 47376 - Former Display Label

Indo-Persian (Mughal) ASTROLABE

Signed, below the shadow-square, 'Work of the Master (ustâdh) Allâh-dâd [or Ilâh-dâd], the astrolabist of Lahore'; not dated. Brass. Diam.: 255 mm.

Rete for 36 stars; an-nasr al-wâqi and an-nasr at-tâ ir ('the flying vulture = Aquilae), two stars within the ecliptic circle, are both represented in the tracery of the rete by cut-out and engraved figures of birds. 6 plates, for latitudes 27°; 21°40' (i.e. the latitude generally accepted by Islamic astrolabists for Mecca), 30°; 33°25', 34°30'; 37°, 38°; 39°37', 45°; including a tablet of horizons of eastern type, a tablet of ecliptical co-ordinates (i.e. for 66°30') and a tablet for 'all latitudes' (i.e. a combination of a projection for latitude 90° and a tablet of horizons of eastern type; this type of tablet derives from the Zarqellu projection). The 12 astrological houses are marked on the plates by lines damascened with silver. In the mater are engraved concentric circular tables listing 157 towns and in most cases giving their longitude, latitude, inhirâf, and the length (in hours and minutes) of the longest day. On the back are engraved a sine quadrant, the arcs of the signs of the zodiac, cotangent scales together with the usual scales of degrees and shadow-square. In the shadow-square are a table of triplicities and other astrological tables. On the alidade are engraved unnumbered scales of hours and declinations; the rule appears to be a later replacement.

The typical Indo-Persian astrolabe is similar in style to the Persian, with a high triangular kursi and with a 'floral' design in the tracery of the rete, and the star-pointers. But whereas the typical Persian astrolabe, especially of the Safavid period, is largely decorated with fine ornamental engraving, the Indo-Persian instrument is more plain, the engraving being usually restricted to the essential inscriptions and to the numerous complex projections and scales with which the later Indo-Persian instrument is provided. The astrolabe described here is one of the earliest known Indo-Persian astrolabes and is far less complicated than the astrolabes of the mid-seventeenth century. Nevertheless it has the decoratively pierced kursi characteristic of the Mughal astrolabes. The kursi on a Persian astrolabe is rarely as large or worked à jour in this way; rather, the Persian astrolabists preferred to ornament the kursi with superficial engraving of decorative patterns and inscriptions. Formerly in the Chadenat Collection.

[57-84/159; B-M: ALLHDAD 2]
J.A. Billmeir Collection

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