View full screen - View 1 of Lot 88. A PLANOSPHERIC BRASS ASTROLABE, SIGNED BY MUHAMMAD MUQIM, LAHORE, 17TH CENTURY.
88

A PLANOSPHERIC BRASS ASTROLABE, SIGNED BY MUHAMMAD MUQIM, LAHORE, 17TH CENTURY

A PLANOSPHERIC BRASS ASTROLABE, SIGNED BY MUHAMMAD MUQIM, LAHORE, 17TH CENTURY

A PLANOSPHERIC BRASS ASTROLABE, SIGNED BY MUHAMMAD MUQIM, LAHORE, 17TH CENTURY

A PLANOSPHERIC BRASS ASTROLABE, SIGNED BY MUHAMMAD MUQIM, LAHORE, 17TH CENTURY


cast brass, the mater with simple throne with two roundels, rete with the names of 37 stars and leaf-like pointers, ecliptic circle divided into 12 named zodiac signs, with six plates: some with composite projections for latitudes 0° + 72° + 90° and for 18° + 72°, the gazetteer engraved in two concentric circles citing 36 localities with names, including: Egypt ('Misr'), Madina, Mecca, Tabriz, Baghdad, Basra, Shiraz, Yazd, Isfahan, Kashan, Herat, Bukhara, Samarqand, Kabul and Lahore, as well as longitudes and latitudes. Alidade, pin and horse hold ensemble together, inscribed: "[Made by] the weakest of the servants [of God], Muhammed Muqim ibn (son of) Mulla 'Isa ibn (son of) Sheikh Allahdad of Lahore, astrolabe maker to [the Emperor] Humayun" 


11 by 9cm.

13cm. max. height


Please note: Condition 9 of the Conditions of Business for Buyers for this sale is not applicable to this lot.

The surface affected from minor oxidisation consistent with the age and use of the piece, minor scratches affecting the plates and the rete, as vewed.


"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."

Purchased by present owner in 1990s, Paris.

Ex-private collection, Brussels, 1984-1996.

Ex-collection M.J. Sottas, Paris, early 20th century.

M.J. Sottas, 'Description d'un astrolabe Arabe construit a Lahore, Paris, October 1926', in Communications et mémoires-Académie de marine, 8-V-44341, vol.9, 14 February 1930, pp.153-85 (reprinted in Sezgin 1998).

A computerized checklist of astrolabes, ed. S.L. Gibbs. J.A. Henderson, D.J. de Solla Price, New Haven: Yale University Department of History of Science and Medicine, 1973, entry no.1119.

G. Baptiste; J. de Graeve; V. Rasquin, La mesure du temps dans les collections Belges, exh. cat. Brussels, 1984, no.17. 

S.R. Sarma, A Descriptive Catalogue of Indian Astronomical Instruments, 2018. pp.567-81, no. A047. 

La mesure du temps dans les collections Belges, Brussels, 1984.

"Plus on étudie l’astrolabe, plus on est séduit par cet ensemble de qualités rares d’un objet fabriqué à la main et rassemblant tant de données scientifiques ou mémorables dans un petit espace et sous une forme matérielle artistique et douée de pérennité". Dr. J. Sottas, Paris, October 1926.

In his last paragraph on this remarkable instrument, Dr Sottas notes the seductive qualities of such an object, at once portable, handmade and which manages to hold so much scientific information within an artistic and everlasting form. 


Several dozen Mughal astrolabes survive, the vast majority being due to the prolific school of instrument-makers founded by Allah-dad Asturlabi Humayuni Lahuri, which extended over four generations of his descendants in Lahore (see Sarma 1994 and 2018, pp.567-81). Most of these reveal frustratingly little information about the makers and the locations for which the instruments were intended. Sarma identifies thirty-three astrolabes and one globe with the signature of Muhammad Muqim as well as eight unsigned models that can be attributed to him, and one made with his brother Qa'im Muhammad (Sarma 2018, p.317). 

This particular example is unusual in that it is perhaps the only astrolabe carrying a latitude plate for 72° North latitude, north of the Arctic circle (which is just under 67°). The Arabic engraving on the plate reads: "the latitude is 72° and several days are 24 hours long". A further unusual features is on the plate for 32°, in which the lines of equal hours are also drawn above the horizon line (Sarma 2018, p.568).


"Toutefois, malgré ses dimensions réduites, ce spécimen est remarquable par l’abondance des notations et des systèmes qu’il comporte et par l’adjonction d’une table de positions géographiques. Il est de facture arabe, ou plus exactement persane, et il est signé du nom du constructeur, à Lahore. On n’y trouve pas de date, mais l’ensemble des coordonnées astronomiques qu’on y relève permet de le rapporter à la fin du XVIe siècle". 

Dr. J. Sottas, Paris, October 1926.

For further references please see the online version of the catalogue.