View full screen - View 1 of Lot 68. A Safavid brass Qibla indicator, Persia, 17th/18th century.

A Safavid brass Qibla indicator, Persia, 17th/18th century

Auction Closed

March 31, 12:40 PM GMT


15,000 - 25,000 GBP

Lot Details


brass body of circular form, hinged lid opening to reveal openwork quatrefoil design with pointer, the base incised with names of various localities, including Mecca, Medina, Karbala, Najaf, al-Kadhimiya, Al-Akarayn, Masumeh, Abd al-Azm, Mashhad, and compass, further engraved throughout with inscriptions, punched details and central floral motifs

6.8cm. diam. 


Around the body:
A Persian quatrain with instructions on how to use this to find the qibla from the places one may be and mentioned on the piece.

The qibla, or sacred direction towards the Ka'ba in Mecca, was particularly researched in Safavid Persia during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. More treatises on the determination of the qibla were compiled and more instruments for finding the qibla were constructed under the Safavids than in any period of Muslim history. Whilst some highly sophisticated instruments, such as world-maps centred on Mecca and fitted with grids preserving direction and distance to the centre, were made in Safavid Persia (the inspiration was a good five centuries older), simpler instruments, such as this compass, showing the qibla for specific localities were also popular and much more widespread (See D. King, World-Maps, passim, esp. pp.134-8 and 545).