View full screen - View 1 of Lot 14. MAJMU'AT AL-MUTAWASSITAT, ('THE COMPENDIUM OF INTERMEDIATE BOOKS'), A RARE AND HIGHLY IMPORTANT COMPENDIUM OF TREATISES ON MATHEMATICS AND ASTRONOMY COMPILED BY NASIR AL-DIN AL-TUSI, COPIED IN BAGHDAD IN 682 AH/1283 AD, THE FINAL PART COMPLETED IN 706 AH/1306 AD.
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MAJMU'AT AL-MUTAWASSITAT, ('THE COMPENDIUM OF INTERMEDIATE BOOKS'), A RARE AND HIGHLY IMPORTANT COMPENDIUM OF TREATISES ON MATHEMATICS AND ASTRONOMY COMPILED BY NASIR AL-DIN AL-TUSI, COPIED IN BAGHDAD IN 682 AH/1283 AD, THE FINAL PART COMPLETED IN 706 AH/1306 AD

MAJMU'AT AL-MUTAWASSITAT, ('THE COMPENDIUM OF INTERMEDIATE BOOKS'), A RARE AND HIGHLY IMPORTANT COMPENDIUM OF TREATISES ON MATHEMATICS AND ASTRONOMY COMPILED BY NASIR AL-DIN AL-TUSI, COPIED IN BAGHDAD IN 682 AH/1283 AD, THE FINAL PART COMPLETED IN 706 AH/1306 AD

MAJMU'AT AL-MUTAWASSITAT, ('THE COMPENDIUM OF INTERMEDIATE BOOKS'), A RARE AND HIGHLY IMPORTANT COMPENDIUM OF TREATISES ON MATHEMATICS AND ASTRONOMY COMPILED BY NASIR AL-DIN AL-TUSI, COPIED IN BAGHDAD IN 682 AH/1283 AD, THE FINAL PART COMPLETED IN 706 AH/1306 AD

MAJMU'AT AL-MUTAWASSITAT, ('THE COMPENDIUM OF INTERMEDIATE BOOKS'), A RARE AND HIGHLY IMPORTANT COMPENDIUM OF TREATISES ON MATHEMATICS AND ASTRONOMY COMPILED BY NASIR AL-DIN AL-TUSI, COPIED IN BAGHDAD IN 682 AH/1283 AD, THE FINAL PART COMPLETED IN 706 AH/1306 AD


Arabic manuscript on paper, 144 leaves, 33 lines to the page written in a small neat naskh in black ink, catchwords picked out in red, the text interspersed with numerous mathematical diagrams, a few inserts, some in original copyist's hand, some later, colophons recording copying dates of 682 AH/1283 AD and 706 AH/1306 AD, marginal glosses and collation notes throughout in at least five hands, the earliest dated 688 AH/1289 AD and 756 AH/1355 AD, in a brown morocco binding with stamped central cartouches outlined in gold with marbled doublures


25.5 by 19.5cm.

In fairly good overall condition, marginal edge repairs throughout, some worming with associated repair, one loose leaf towards the end, otherwise ink strong and bold, pages generally clean, as viewed.


"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."

Acquired in the early 20th century by a European scholar of Middle Eastern Studies. Sotheby’s London, 7 October 2009, lot 21.

Private collection, UK.


This edition was written only nine years after al-Tusi's death and is extremely important in its proximity to the lifetime of this giant among Islamic medieval scholars.


Al-Tusi's Kitab al-Mutawassitat was a compendium of works described by him as "intermediate", i.e. lying between Euclid's Elements and Ptolemy's Almagest (see E.I. 'Nasir al-Din al-Tusi', Brockelmann, SI, pp.929-932), and it contained a group of treatises on mathematics and astronomy of which, in most cases, he had written commentaries or new editions himself. In the case of the present volume, several of the individual treatises have colophons which refer to the dates of the editing of these texts and sometimes mention the "author". In all cases these dates are between 651 and 663 AH/1253-65 AD), well within al-Tusi's lifetime (he died in 1274 AD) and right in the middle of his most productive period under the patronage of the Isma'ili rulers of Alamut and the Il-Khans at Maragha. It is possible, therefore, that these colophons refer to al-Tusi himself and the dates indicate the years in which he completed his editing of, or commentaries on these works. Thus the present manuscript constitutes a highly important document for our knowledge of al-Tusi's life and work as well as for the evolution of the texts of these important scientific treatises.


All but sixteen of the 144 folios are in the same, neat scholarly hand and several of the treatises also contain colophons indicating the date of the copying of these actual copies, and these are all in the year 682 AH/1283AD, apart from the final sixteen folios of the final treatise, which are in a different hand from the rest of the compendium and are dated 706 AH/1306 AD. Thus the volume must have been left unfinished in 682 AH/1283 AD, perhaps because the copyist died or some event took place to halt the work. Interestingly, despite the destruction and genocide that occurred in Baghdad with the Mongol capture of the city in 1258, the scholarly and intellectual aspects of life revived quite quickly. We are told that the colleges were rebuilt and revived, particularly the Nizamiyya, Mustansiriyya, Bashiriyya, Tatashiriyya and Madrasat al-Arab (E.I.2, 'Baghdad'), and it must have been at one of these colleges that the present manuscript was written, given its important scientific content and extremely neat execution. Indeed, in 1281, the year before this copy was completed, an edict was sent out from the Il-Khan Takudar that endowments for schools and mosques be revived.


Throughout the present manuscript are collation notes and marginal commentaries, the earliest of which is dated 688 AH/1289 AD. This is significant as it is only six years after the majority of the text was written and precedes the copying of the final sixteen folios of the compendium, which were completed in 706 AH/1306 AD, by eighteen years. Thus the first marginal glosses were applied before the final sixteen folios of the final treatise in the compendium were completed. Amongst the other marginal glosses are one set dated 756 AH/1355 AD and another dated 1018 AH/1609 AD.


There are fifteen individual treatises in the volume, each with between two and thirty-seven folios. They are as follows:


ff.3b-12a. Tahrir Kitab al-Mu'attiyat - Recension of The Book of Data of Euclid. Originally translated into Arabic by Ishaq ibn Hunayn and edited by Thabit ibn Qurra. Nasir al-Din al-Tusi wrote his own commentary on this work (Brockelmann, op.cit.).

ff.12b-23a. Kitab al-Akarr - The Book of Spherics of Theodosius. Originally translated into Arabic by Qusta ibn Luqa and edited by Thabit ibn Qurra. Nasir al-Din al-Tusi wrote his own commentary on this work (Brockelmann, op.cit.).

ff.24b-26a. Al-Kurrah al-Mutaharrikah - On The Moving Sphere of Autolycus. First edited in Arabic by Thabit ibn Qurra. The colophon of this treatise tells us that it was completed (presumably referring to Tusi's editing process) in 651 AH/1253 AD.

ff.26b-57b. Tahrir Kitab al-Ashkal al-Kurriyah Manaluws - Recension of The Book of Spherics of Menelaus. The colophon of this treatise tells us that it was completed (presumably referring to al-Tusi's editing/commentary) on 21st Shaban 663 AH/ 11th June 1265nAD. It also records the date of the writing of this actual copy as 682 AH/1283 AD.

ff.58b-60b. Tahrir Kitab al-Masakin - Recension of the Book of Settlements of Theodosius. Originally translated into Arabic by Qusta ibn Luqa. Al-Tusi wrote his own commentary on this work (Brockelmann, op.cit.).

ff.61b-66b. Tahrir Kitab al-Manazir - Recension of the Book of Optics of Euclid. The colophon of this treatise tells us that it was completed (presumably referring to al-Tusi's editing process) in 651 AH/1253 AD.

ff.67b-74b. Tahrir Kitab Zahirat al-Falak - Recension of the Book of Celestial Phenomena of Euclid. Al-Tusi wrote his own commentary on this work (Brockelmann, op.cit.).

ff.75b-82a. Tahrir Kitab al-Ayyam wa'l-Layali - Recension of the Book of Days and Nights of Theodosius. The colophon of this treatise tells us that it was completed (presumably referring to al-Tusi's editing process) in 653 AH/1255 AD.

ff.82b-88b. Tahrir Kitab al-Tulu' wa'l-Ghurub - Recension of the Book of Risings and Settings of Autolycus. Originally edited by Thabit ibn Qurra. Al-Tusi wrote his own commentary on this work (Brockelmann, op.cit.). The colophon of this treatise tells us that it was completed (presumably referring to al-Tusi's editing process) in 658 AH/1260 AD.

ff.89b-90a. Tahrir Kitab al-Matali' - Recension of the Book of Ascensions of Hypsicles. Originally translated by Thabit ibn Qurra and later edited by Al-Kindi. Al-Tusi wrote his own commentary on this work (Brockelmann, op.cit.). The colophon of this treatise tells us that it was completed (presumably referring to al-Tusi's editing process) in 658 AH/1260 AD.

ff.90b-94b. Tahrir Kitab al-Jarmay al-Nayyirayn - The Book of the Sizes of the Sun and Moon of Aristarchus of Samos. Al-Tusi wrote his own commentary on this work (Brockelmann, op.cit.). The colophon of this treatise tells us that it was completed (presumably referring to al-Tusi's editing process) in 658 AH/1260 AD.

ff.95b-98b. Tahrir Kitab al-Makhudat - The Book of Lemmas of Archimedes. Originally translated into Arabic by Thabit ibn Qurra and commented upon by Al-Sawi. The colophon of this treatise tells us that it was completed (presumably referring to al-Tusi's editing process, and here it says "by the author for himself") in 658 AH/1260 AD. It also records the date of the writing of this actual copy as 682 AH/1283 AD.

ff.99b-102a. Tahrir Kitab al-Mufradat - The Book of Assumptions of Thabit ibn Qurra. Al-Tusi wrote his own commentary on this work (Brockelmann, op.cit.). The colophon of this treatise tells us that it was completed (presumably referring to al-Tusi's editing process) in 658 AH/1260 AD.

ff.102b-108a. Tahrir Kitab Ma'rifat Misahat al-Ashkal al-Basitah wa'l-Kurriya - The Book of Knowledge of Measuring Plane and Spherical Figures of Muhammad, Ahmad and Hassan Bani Musa. The colophon of this treatise tells us that it was completed (presumably referring to al-Tusi's editing process) in 658 AH/1260 AD.

ff.108b-144b. Kitab Jami'li-Dawa al Shakl al-Qita' wa'l-Barahiniyya (a seminal treatise on Trigonometry) of Nasir al-Din al-Tusi himself, written originally in Persian and translated by al-Tusi into Arabic. The first twenty-two folios of this treatise are in the same hand and same ink as the rest of the manuscript, therefore presumably dating from 682 AH/1283 AD like the others. However, from f.129 until the end on f.144 the hand and ink are rather different, and the colophon on f.144, written in this second hand, records the date 706 AH/1306 AD as the date of completion, some twenty-three years after the preceding 122 folios.