Folio from Kitab fi ma’arifat al-hiyal al-handisaya (The book of knowledge of ingenious mechanical devices) Automata by al-Jazari (d. 1206); recto: text, Water-powered clocks; verso: The face of a water clock with Zodiac signs

Detached folio from a dispersed copy of the Kitab fi ma’arifat al-hiyal al-handisaya (The book of knowledge of ingenious mechanical devices), “Automata,” by al-Jazari; text: Arabic in black and red naskh script; recto: text, Water-powered clocks, one column, 12 lines; verso: illustration and text, The face of a water clock with zodiac signs, one column, 6 lines; one of a group of 8 folios.

Maker(s)
Calligrapher: Farruq ibn Abd al-Latif
Historical period(s)
Mamluk period, 1315 (715 A.H.)
Medium
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
H x W: 31.5 x 21.9 cm (12 3/8 x 8 5/8 in)
Geography
probably Syria
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1930.74
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Manuscript
Type

Manuscript folio

Keywords
Aquarius, Aries, automata, Cancer, Capricorn, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Mamluk period (1250 - 1517), Pisces, Sagittarius, Scorpio, Syria, Taurus, Virgo, zodiac
Provenance

To 1930
Hagop Kevorkian (1872-1962), New York to 1930 [1]

From 1930
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Hagop Kevorkian, New York in 1930 [2]

Notes:

[1] Object file, undated folder sheet note. See also Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List file, Collections Management Office.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s)

Hagop Kevorkian 1872-1962

Description

Detached folio from a dispersed copy of the Kitab fi ma'arifat al-hiyal al-handisaya (The book of knowledge of ingenious mechanical devices), "Automata," by al-Jazari; text: Arabic in black and red naskh script; recto: text, Water-powered clocks, one column, 12 lines; verso: illustration and text, The face of a water clock with zodiac signs, one column, 6 lines; one of a group of 8 folios.

Label

The so-called <i><Automat/i>a of al-Jazari, which describes the construction of fifty mechanical devices, was frequently illustrated in Syria and Egypt during the fourteenth century. This painting comes from a section of the Automata text devoted to water powered clocks. The green disk is part of a clock constructed in the form of a palace facade. As described in the text and accurately depicted here, the disk consists of a revolving outer rim adorned with the twelve signs of the zodiac and two inner zones with gold roundels for the sun and moon.

Published References
  • The Book of Ingenious Devices [Kitab al-hiyal]. Dordrecht, Holland and Boston. .
  • Anna Contadini. The Kitab Manafi 'al Hayawan in the Escorial Library. no. 3. p. 43.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Art of the Arab World. Exh. cat. Washington, 1975. cat. 44, pp. 102-103.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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