European Crucifix Dial

Lines of Faith
Eastern & Western

"Lord of the two Easts and Lord of the two Wests" (55.17)

Although instruments such as qibla-indicators are purely Islamic, others were also common in Europe, such as astrolabes. Islamic and European astrolabes can differ in many ways, even though they were used for similar purposes, and have a common origin. The Islamic need for finding prayer times, and determining the direction of Mecca inevitably led to markings on instruments which are not found on Western examples. Islamic instruments also tend to be of a highly decorative nature in contrast to the European trend towards functionality. This is in order to fulfill the duty of Muslim craftsmen to produce beautiful works, and hence serve God.

The Islamic association of instruments with religion was sometimes mirrored in European examples. Instruments such as dials, although not used for any specific purpose associated with Christian worship, could be shaped as crucifixes, or contain reliquaries - small compartments in which to place religious relics.

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