Abstract

When the astrolabe was introduced in India around the eleventh century, it was received with great enthusiasm. While the Muslims continued the Middle Eastern tradition of the study and manufacture of the astrolabe, the Hindus and Jains, who did not read Arabic, composed manuals on the astrolabe in Sanskrit, produced astrolabes with Sanskrit inscriptions, and also occasionally added Sanskrit legends to the Arabic/Persian astrolabes. A very large astrolabe, which is thoroughly reworked in this manner with Sanskrit legends, is the subject of this paper. During the process of reworking the name of the original maker of the astrolabe, the date of its manufacture, and other such details got effaced. But on the basis of the internal evidence, it will be argued that the astrolabe was originally produced between 1648 and 1658 by Ḍiyāʾ al-Dīn Muḥammad of Lahore for the Mughal Emperor Shāh Jahān. The study continues with a technical description of the components of the astrolabe, in which an attempt will be made to record all the original Arabic inscriptions and the subsequent engravings in Sanskrit.

Sections

Figures

  • The Front of the Khalili astrolabe. The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Accession No. sci 53.
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  • The graphs of the solar meridian altitude on the back. The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Accession No. sci 53.
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  • The name Shāhjahānābād in the Geographical Gazetteer. Here the upper row reads, from right to left, “Akbarābād Dār al-Khilāfat (i.e., Agra), [longitude] 114;0°, [latitude] 27;0°, [the duration of the longest day] 13h 45m.” The lower row reads “S[h]āhjahānābād Dār al-Mulk Hind (i.e., Delhi), [longitude] 113;35°, [latitude] 28;39°, [duration of the longest day] 13h 52m.” The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Accession No. sci 53.
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  • Falcon attacking Hoopoes on the Back of the Kursī. The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Accession No. sci 53.
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  • The rete of the astrolabe. The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Accession No. sci 53.
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  • The ecliptic ring on the rete (detail showing the zodiac signs Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces). The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Accession No. sci 53.
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  • The oblique horizons for the latitudes of 29° and 32° on the rete. The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Accession No. sci 53.
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  • Plate 6a for the ecliptic coordinates. The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Accession No. sci 53.
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  • The tablet of horizons on plate 6b. The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Accession No. sci 53.
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  • Plate 2a for latitude 0°. The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Accession No. sci 53.
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  • Plate 1a to be used with the Zawraqī horizons. The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Accession No. sci 53.
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  • Plate 1a (detail showing the astrological houses and the miniature tablet inside the Tropic of Cancer). The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Accession No. sci 53.
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  • Plate 1a (detail showing the labels on the oblique horizons in the east). The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Accession No. sci 53.
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  • The designation of Plate 1a. The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Accession No. sci 53.
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  • The geographical gazetteer on the mater. The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Accession No. sci 53.
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  • The geographical gazetteer in Sanskrit engraved on the edge. The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Accession No. sci 53.
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  • The back of the Khalili astrolabe. The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Accession No. sci 53.
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  • The trigonometric quadrant on the back. The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Accession No. sci 53.
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  • The zodiac quadrant on the back. The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Accession No. sci 53.
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  • The shadow squares on the back. The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Accession No. sci 53.
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  • Scales in the lower half of the back. The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Accession No. sci 53.
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  • Nayanānanda’s inscription on the back. The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Accession No. sci 53.
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