A seal impression on the last page reads:
'His [God's] servant al-Sayyid Isma'il, 1236 AH/1820-21 AD'
This finely illuminted almanac was written for Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent in the final decade of his reign, by the chief court astrologer known as 'Lali', and as an inscription on the opening page by the author records, it was to be presented to his successor Selim II upon his accession to the throne in 1566 AD:
'Say the words from your heart and pray for and praise Shah Selim Han faithfully, God transferred onto him the state of Suleyman seeing he was worthy of it...Alas, I would have given it to Sultan Suleyman Han, to the one who owned the seal of Solomon...so it became an enthronement gift for his son...'
The author goes on to state the exact date, 975 AH/1566-7 AD, when the work was presented to Selim II, followed by various medical prescriptions. The present manuscript is typical of that produced for the court of Suleyman the Magnificent, and can be compared to a small number of manuscripts originating from the late fifteenth century and made for the royal courts, now in the Topkapi Palace Museum Library (MS B 309) and MS R 1711). Furthermore, the vase decoration on the colophon page, depicting delicately executed pink carnations, is similar to that which decorates the opening illumination of a collection of 40 hadith, dated 1543 AD (also in the Topkapi Saray Museum). carnations of a similar type also appear on the exquisite lacquer binding of the same mansucript (see M. Rogers and R.M. Ward, Süleyman the Magnificent, London, 1988, pp.80-81, cat. no.24a-b.
The second part of this almanac, following the dedication and medical prescriptions for the Sultan, consists of the calendar and its related topics. Such subjects include the Rumi and Hijri dates, charts concerned with making predictions based on specific characteristics of the human body and the star signs, and other forms of fortune telling. The calendar itself unusually dedicates a double page for each month, compared to the more normal single page, perhaps because the present work was produced for the Sultan on a special occasion. The last section in the manuscript deals with astronomical and astrological calculations, comprising predictions based on the sun, moon, stars and seasons, and lunar and solar eclipses.
The start of the sixteenth century in Istanbul saw the establishment of the office of the munajjim, which employed both astronomers and astrologers. Their task was to draw up calendars and almanacs which were either designed for a certain year, or to be used purpetually. These works generally comprised various sections, depending on their purpose, and were presented to the Sultan on March 21st, the first day of the calendar year.
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