Kitāb istī‘āb al-wujūh al-mumkinah fī ṣan‘at al-asṭurlāb كتاب استيعاب الوجوه الممكنة في صنعة الأسطرلاب Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad بيروني، محمد بن أحمد

Or 5593

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The record is made up of Codex A collection of pages, usually gathered into quires, and bound between covers. ; ff. ii+89+iii. It was created in 700-800. It was written in Arabic. The original is part of the British Library: Oriental Manuscripts.

About this record

Content

One of only three recorded copies of an influential treatise on the construction and use of astrolabes by Abū al-Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-Bīrūnī (أبو الريحان محمد بن أحمد البيروني, ca 973-1048) containing 122 diagrams, 7 tables and 1 space for a diagram or table left blank and marked بياض صحيح ('correctly blank'; f. 20v).

Begins (f. 3v, lines 1-7):

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم رب يسر ولا تعسر

الأنفس الصافية ذوات نراع واشتناق إلى تصور الموجودات و

الإحاطة بها على الإطلاق فلذلك تلتفت إلى ما يزيدها روتفا (!) وبها

وتنبعث إلى ما يكسبها صفًا ونقًا كنفس الشيخ أيده الله التي صفت

من درن الطينة وخلصت عن كرر الطبيعة بل اتحدت بكلية النفوس

وأشغلت بالمعتول (!) عن المحسوس فلا يقصد من العلوم إلا ما يكون

معلومه أفضل معلوم

Ends (89v, lines 5-8):

ووصلنا كل واحدة من تلك بالفلس حتى يكون لعروض كثيرة ويكون

أحسن في الصورة بل لو ثمٮ (!)

الصفيحة باقطار بدل التربيع وفعل به ذلك

احتمل أفأما كثيرة وقاربت أن نعم العروض في العمل إن شاء الله وتمام

هذه الآلة تم إنجاز الوعد بما وعد به والوفاء بما صمته بعون الله وتوفيقه

The fore-edge and lower margins of f. 89v contain verses in Persian written by a hand other than that of the main scribe.

The diagram on for 83v shows the internal gears of an astrolabe Ancient instrument for astronomical observations. . This diagram (although not this copy of it) is thought to be the earliest depiction of the internal gears of a hand-held device. See Hill, 'Al-Bīrūnī's Mechanical Calendar', 1985.

Extent and format
Codex A collection of pages, usually gathered into quires, and bound between covers. ; ff. ii+89+iii
Physical characteristics

Material: Paper

Dimensions: 235 x 135 mm leaf [185 x 120 written]

Foliation: Museum foliation in pencil; Arabic numeral foliation in black ink in upper right-hand corners of versos

Ruling: Misṭarah ; 21 lines per page; vertical spacing 10 lines per 10 cm

Script: Naskh

Ink: Black; rubricated headings; tables and diagrams in red and black

Binding: British Museum binding

Condition: f. 3 damaged and some words missing from last two lines; light water damage towards foredge and head, re-inked in places

Marginalia: infrequent marginal corrections and headings added by later hands

Written in
Arabic in Arabic script
Type
Manuscript

Archive information for this record

Access & Reference

Original held at
British Library: Oriental Manuscripts
Access conditions

Unrestricted

Archive reference
Or 5593

History of this record

Date(s)
700-800 (AH, Hijri qamari)
Provenance

The birthdate of an unidentified character is given as 14 Ramaḍān 1015/13 January 1607 (f. 1r)

Three owners' inscriptions and seals (f. 2r; from top down):

  • Muẓaffar the astrologer (مظفر المنجم), his inscription and seal dated 1010 AH/AD 1601-2;
  • Muḥammad ibn Ṭabīb (محمد بن طبيب), his inscription and seal dated 1128 AH/AD 1715-16 (fuller and slightly different name on seal; see same seal on f. 89r);
  • Ibn Muḥammad Taqī, editor (المحرر [؟] ابن محمد تقي منجم) and astrologer, his inscription and seal (undated)

Numerous owners' inscriptions and seals (f. 3r)

Waqf ('endowment') statement along with semi-legible seal dated 1128 AH/AD 1715-16 (f. 89r; see same seal on f. 2r)

Immediate source of acquisition

Purchased from Messrs Hannan and Watson, 16 May 1899

Related material

Finding aids

Ellis, A.G. and Edward Edwards, A Descriptive List of the Arabic Manuscripts Acquired by the Trustees of the British Museum since 1894 (London: British Museum, 1912), p. 38

Select Bibliography

Study and partial edition and translation:

  • Donald R. Hill, 'Al-Bīrūnī's Mechanical Clock', Annals of Science, 42 (1985), 139-163 (repr. in Byzantine and Arabic Mathematical Gearing , ed. by J.V. Field, D.R. Hill and M.T. Wright [London: The Science Museum, 1985] and Donald R. Hill, Studies in Medieval Islamic Technology [Aldershot: Ashgate Variorum, 1998])
People & organisations
Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad Bīrūnī

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Kitāb istī‘āb al-wujūh al-mumkinah fī ṣan‘at al-asṭurlāb كتاب استيعاب الوجوه الممكنة في صنعة الأسطرلاب Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad بيروني، محمد بن أحمد, British Library: Oriental Manuscripts, Or 5593, in Qatar Digital Library <https://www.qdl.qa/archive/81055/vdc_100000000094.0x000094> [accessed 19 November 2018]

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