Astrolabe Catalogue

astrolabe, inventory number 40744 from Iṣfahān, 1712/13 (A.H.
thumbnail for astrolabe (front), inventory number 40744 from Iṣfahān, 1712/13 (A.H.
thumbnail for astrolabe (back), inventory number 40744 from Iṣfahān, 1712/13 (A.H.
thumbnail for astrolabe (rete front), inventory number 40744 from Iṣfahān, 1712/13 (A.H.
Date1712/13 (A.H. 1124)
Maker‘Abd al-A’imma
Inventory no.40744
AcquisitionPresented by Lewis Evans in 1924

A calligraphic inscription on the front of the throne of this astrolabe records that it was made for Isma'īl Bey, the jabbādār-bashī (director of the arsenal) and 'high-ranking confidante' of the shah of Persia. The inscription ends with the numbers 001 and 124. The first element is unexplained, possibly just a space filler. The second is the date 1124, as other dates with the thousand omitted show. This is 1712/13 A.D. The maker of the astrolabe, the famous 'Abd al-A'imma, was working in the first twenty years of the 18th century.

'Abd al-A'imma's astrolabes remained so sought after in his native Persia that many later imitations and forgeries were made. The forgeries bear false dates following the maker's signature. 'Abd al-A'imma's genuine products (of which this is a fine example) are characterized by their astronomical correctness and by the fact that his signature (in this case in a beautiful cartouche beneath the shadow square on the back) seldom includes a date. Instead, as here, several of his astrolabes are dated in their dedication or ownership inscriptions.

The most distinctive and easily imitated feature of 'Abd al-A'imma's work was its density of decoration and calligraphy. The back of this astrolabe is an exception to that rule. Presumably the jabbādār-bashī was a serious man of science who required a plainer working instrument. He signalled his wealth and rank, however, by having a precious turquoise set into the pin.

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Throne, Ring and Shackle

The throne is of the indo-persian, engraved type made of brass attached with integrated base made of brass and has a simple, round cross-section ring made of brass and omega type shackle made of brass . More information


The mater and limb are of one-piece construction. The tab that holds the plates in place is located at the bottom of the instrument, i.e., 180° from the throne. Scales on the limb: degree scale. More information


The back contains 9 scales of the following types: Altitude; Lunar position; Sine/Cosine; Cotangent; Shadow square. The back is inscribed: with a maker's signature marked as صنعه عبد الائمة المحتاج ٳلى رحمة ربه الغني (Made by ʿAbd al-Aʾimmah, who needs the mercy of his Lord, the self-sufficient.). Inscription in cartouche below shadow square. More information

Rete, Pin & Horse

The rete contains 0 stars. The zodiac on the rete is labelled: حمل , ثور , جوزا , سرطان , اسد , سنبله , ميزان , عقرب , قوس , جدي , دلو , حوت.

The rete contains 1 scale of the following type: Ecliptic.
The rete is attached using a pin & horse. The top of the pin is decorated with turquoise. More information


There are 5 plates with latitudes ranging from 30°0' to 38°0' . More information

Rules & Alidades

Type Details
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