Illuminating the Lunar Mansions (manāzil al-qamar) in Šams al-maʿārif

In: Arabica
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  • 1 Qatar University

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The lunar zodiac, generally known as the manāzil al-qamar in Arabic, served both as an astronomical and an astrological system. This was a system of 28 lunar “mansions” or “stations” in which the moon was said to station (nazala) each night of the sidereal month. For each of the asterisms of the mansions there were prognostications, astrological and mystical connections. One of the more widely traveled sources on this astrological content in the past three centuries has been based on the work of the 7th/13th century Aḥmad b. ʿAlī l-Būnī (d. ca 622/1225 or 630/1232-1233), especially the text known as Šams al-maʿārif. This article provides a translation and edition of the relevant section on the lunar mansions with a critical commentary. It is based primarily on a 11th/17th century manuscript preserved in Istanbul’s Süleymaniye library and attributed to al-Būnī.

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