Lot 5
  • 5

Abu'l-Husayn 'Abd al-Rahman ibn 'Umar al-Sufi (d.986 AD), Kitab suwar al-kawakib, ('The Book of the Fixed Stars'), Iraq or Western Persia, Jalayrid, dated 742 AH/1341 AD

Estimate
10,000 - 15,000 GBP
Sold
50,000 GBP
bidding is closed

Description

  • ink on paper, leather binding
Arabic manuscript on paper, 96 leaves, disbound, 19 lines to the page, written in black naskh script, keywords and picture titles picked out in red, chapter headings in ornamental Eastern Kufic script, catchwords, numerous tables and charts, 32 full-page and 2 half-page illustrations depicting the constellations, some defaced with associated re-inking, margins ruled in red, soft leather binding with simple tooled decoration

Catalogue Note

Al-Sufi wrote the Kitab al-kawakib for Sultan Adud al-Dawla in Baghdad in 965 AD. This text combines part VII and VIII of the Almagest of Ptolemy, on constellations and equinoxes, with the Arabic and Bedouin (also known as Anwa) traditions of astronomy. The earliest dated Arabic illustrated copy is now in St Petersburg (dated 1005-11 AD, inv.no.I.O.L.Arab.185).

Although incomplete, this manuscript is quite remarkable for the number of illustrations which have survived. The heads of many figures have been defaced and re-drawn at a later stage but the bodies are contemporaneous to the text. Although the iconography of the constellations is taken from Hellenistic sources, most of the illustrations have some oriental features, usually identifiable in the dress or facial appearances or accessories (see Sotheby’s 1998, pp.32-48), whilst the dress of f.5a (Gemini), f.56b and f.57a (Andromeda) recall Ilkhanid and Seljuk models.

List of illustrations:

f.1a: al-Tinnin (The dragon) - constellation of the northern hemisphere – in sky
f.4b: al-Thaur (Taurus) – the zodiac in globe 5a: al-Jauza (Gemini) – the zodiac in sky
f.8b: al-Hamal (Aries) – the zodiac in globe
f.9a: al-Hamal(Aries) - the zodiac in sky
f.12b: Saratan (Cancer) – the zodiac in globe and in sky
f.19b: al-Nahr (Eridamus) - constellation of the southern hemisphere – in globe
f.20a: al-Nahr (Eridamus) - constellation of the southern hemisphere - in sky
f.24b: al-Samarkatein (Pisces) – the zodiac in globe
f.25a: al-Samarkatein (Pisces) – the zodiac in sky
f.28b: Qitas (Cetus) - constellation of the southern hemisphere – in globe
f.29a: al-Dalfil (Delphinus) - constellation of the northern hemisphere – in sky
f.30a: al-Multahab (Cephus) - constellation of the northern hemisphere – in sky
f.31a: al-Baqar, Haris al-Sama’ (Guardian of the sky)
f.34b: al-Dubb al-akbar (Orsa Major ) - constellation of the northern hemisphere – in globe
f.35a: al-Kalb al-akbar (Canis Major) - constellation of the southern hemisphere - in sky
f.37b: al-Uqab (Aquila) - constellation of the northern hemisphere – in globe
f.39b: al-Shuja (Hydra) - constellation of the southern hemisphere – in globe
f.40a: al-Shuja (Hydra) - constellation of the southern hemisphere – in sky
f.50b: al-Kalb al-akbar (Canis Major) - constellation of the southern hemisphere – in globe
f.51b: al-Kalb al-asghr (Canis Minor) - constellation of the southern hemisphere
f.52a: al-Faras al-azam (Equus Major) - constellation of the northern hemisphere – in sky
f.55b: al-Mijmara (The censer) - constellation of the southern hemisphere - in sky
f.56b: al-Mar’ah al-Musalsalah (Andromeda) - constellation of the northern hemisphere – in globe
f.57a: al-Mar’ah al-Musalsalah (Andromeda) - constellation of the northern hemisphere – in sky
f.57b: as described by Ptolomy al-Mar’ah al-Musalsalah holding a samak
f.58a: al-Mutaqaddim (Equus Minor) - constellation of the northern hemisphere – in globe
f.60b: al-Dajajah (Cygnus) -constellation of the southern hemisphere – in globe
f.61a: al-Aqrab (Scorpio) – the zodiac in sky
f.68b: al-Dalu (Acquarius) – the zodiac in globe
f.69a: al-Dalu (Acquarius) – the zodiac in sky
f.73a: al-Jabbar (Orion) -constellation of the southern hemisphere – in sky
f.85a: al-Mizan (Libra) – the zodiac in globe
f.88a: al-Hawwa (Serpentarious) - constellation of the northern hemisphere – in sky

 

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