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Astrolabe

Astrolabe

  • Place of origin:

    Iran (made)
    Isfahan (made)

  • Date:

    1715 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Abd al-A'immah (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Brass, cut and engraved

  • Museum number:

    458-1888

  • Gallery location:

    Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery, case 9W

This astrolabe is signed by one ‘Abd al-Aimmah’ and dated to the year 1715. Iranian astrolabes fall into two categories: those made from the 10th to the 16th centuries, which continue in much the same style as the earliest Iranian astrolabes; and those made from the end of the second half of the 16th century, when there was a resurgance in astrolabe-making. These later astrolabes are decorated in the highly ornate style popular in Iran at this period. Numerous surviving examples from the 17th and 18th centuries reflect the popularity of astrology at court. The retes of these astrolabes - that is, the part of the instrument that maps the stars, made up of a rotating disk with pointers - feature patterns of vine scrolls, bearing leaf-shaped star pointers. The various components, as well as the rims and the backs, usually have patterns or inscriptions, sometimes Persian verses in either naskh or nastaliq scripts. Astrolabes from this period also often have a signature within a cartouche below the shadow square on the back.

Physical description

Brass sheet, cut and engraved.

Place of Origin

Iran (made)
Isfahan (made)

Date

1715 (made)

Artist/maker

Abd al-A'immah (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Brass, cut and engraved

Marks and inscriptions

'Abd al-Aimmah
1) Signature; Persian; engraving

Dimensions

Height: 19.6 cm maximum, with suspension ring, Width: 12.5 cm, Diameter: 11 cm plates

Descriptive line

Astrolabe, Iran (Isfahan), 1715.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

pp.14, 15, 106
Tim Stanley (ed.), with Mariam Rosser-Owen and Stephen Vernoit, Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Middle East, London, V&A Publications, 2004
Science, Tools, Magic, Khalili Collection, Vol. XII, cat. nos. 145-151.

Labels and date

Jameel Gallery

2–3 Astrolabes
Like the celestial globe, the astrolabe was inherited from Greek and Roman astronomy. It shows the relative positions of the sun and stars on a flat surface.

The solid plates are engraved for different latitudes. To use the astrolabe, one plate is placed in the casing (mater) under the openwork disc (rete).

The rete is a star map with pointers showing the stars’ position. It is moved to the correct position once an observation has been made with the sighting device (alidade).

3 Dismantled Astrolabe
Iran, Isfahan
Dated 1715
Brass, cast and sheet, pierced and engraved.
Made by Abd al-A’immah
Museum no. 458-1888
[Jameel Gallery]

Materials

Brass

Techniques

Engraving; Soldering

Categories

Islam; Metalwork; Science

Collection

Middle East Section

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