Product images of Astrolabe: dismounted obverse
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Astrolabe: dismounted obverse
The prolific Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Battuti, together with Hasan ibn Ahmad (presumed to be his brother), were the last serious representatives of the distinguished tradition of astrolabe-making in the Islamic West. Although al-Battuti seems at first sight to have adhered strictly to local traditions, one can nevertheless discern elements which are clearly appropriations from Safavid Iran, such as the throne design with compass.
The plain, triangular throne has a magnetic compass of French fabrication on the front. On the throne's reverse is the Arabic inscription: 'Praise to God! Made by Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Battuti - God is his friend and saviour - in the year 1151 of the Hijra of the Prophet'. A vertical pivot with hollow sphere supports a large suspension ring, allowing the astrolabe to be rotated around its vertical axis when it is hung. In the mater, an elaborate chronological table is engraved, with perpetual calendars for the Julian and Hijra eras. The rete bears 25 star pointers. There are eight plates, six being engraved for a range of latitudes between Mecca and the northern polar circle. On the back of the instrument are two altitude scales and eight concentric circular bands comprising zodiacal and calendrical scales.
Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Battuti
- Image reference: E5561-4
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Robert Schumann collection