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Nautical almanac [‎111v] (275/308)

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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+17+i+60+ix+1+i+21+vi+2+iv+23+i+1+i. It was created in 1260. It was written in Arabic. The original is part of the British Library: Oriental Manuscripts.

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Nautical almanac containing tables, diagrams and short texts useful for navigation in the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf The historical term used to describe the body of water between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. , and Red Sea. A concise overview of the navigational methods discussed, without reference to this manuscript, can be found in Yacoub Yusuf al-Hijji, 'Arab Navigational Methods after 1850', in Anthony R. Constable and William Facey, The Principles of Arab Navigation (London: Arabian Publishing Ltd, 2013), pp. 35-46.

The scribe of at least ff. 109-120v is Saʿīd ibn Aḥmad ibn Khamīs ibn Brīk/Barlik (?) (سعيد بن أحمد بن خميس بن بريك/برلك [؟]), who completed this section on Sunday 20 Rajab 1260/5 August 1844 (see colophon Section at the end of a manuscript text. on f. 120v, lines 12-15). Another undated colophon Section at the end of a manuscript text. names the owner of the manuscript, and possibly also the scribe of this and other sections of the manuscript, as Saʻīd ibn Ḥamad ibn Māṭir al-Tamāmī (سعيد بن حمد بن ماطر التمامي, see f. 98v, lines 7-9 and notes on f. 125r), a well known ship captain of Sur, Oman active in the early 19th century (see Khālid Sālim Muḥammad, Rabābinat al-khalīj al-ʻarabī wa-muṣannifātuhum al-baḥrīyah [al-Kuwayt: Shirkat al-Rabīʻān lil-Nashr wa-al-Tawzīʻ, 1982], p. 10).

Declination tables for the years 1830-44 are found on ff. 3r-9r and tables for calculating the weekday on which a given month will begin for the years 1840-54 are found on ff. 105v-106r.

According to a note on f. 125r, the manuscript was 'Found in a slave dow A term adopted by British officials to refer to local sailing vessels in the western Indian Ocean. captured of Ras El Had [Raʼs al-Ḥadd, Oman], and condemned'. The capturing of the dhow A term adopted by British officials to refer to local sailing vessels in the western Indian Ocean. and confiscation of the manuscript likely occurred while Colonel Samuel Barrett Miles (1838-1914) was Acting Political Resident A senior ranking political representative (equivalent to a Consul General) from the diplomatic corps of the Government of India or one of its subordinate provincial governments, in charge of a Political Residency. in the Gulf (1884-85), since he presented the manuscript to the British Museum on 4 August 1885.

A detailed description and analysis of a similar Arabic nautical manuscript can be found in Acevedo, Juan, 'A New Arabic Nautical Manuscript in Lisbon', COMSt Bulletin 7 (2021), pp. 9-36 https://doi.org/10.25592/uhhfdm.9620

Contents:

  • 1) Declination tables (ff. 1v-17r);
  • 2) Traverse tables with first column headed 'departure' (مساج) (ff. 18v-27v);
  • 3) Chapter on extracting the calculation of the chip log (باب إخراج حساب الباطلي, ff. 28v-30r, see also ff. 115r-115v);
  • 4) Chapter on knowledge of the clearance (?) of the chip log (باب في معرفة تصفية الباطلي , ff. 30v-32r);
  • 5) Names of locations, knowledge of the English latitude and longitude derived from the corresponding nālīyah (?) (أسماء البلدان معرفة عرض وطول إنقريزي مأخوذ من النالية تفقه, ff. 32v-66v). On ff. 37v-45r the coordinates are marked ʻarabī (Arabic, i.e., 'Ptolemaic' longitude) instead of inqrīzī (English, i.e., Greenwich longitude); the coordinates have not been filled in for the locations mentioned on ff. 50v-51r, 52r-54v and 58r-65v;
  • 6) Traverse tables with first column, in each set of three columns, headed 'departure' (مساج) (ff. 67r-73r);
  • 7) Traverse tables with first column, in each set of three columns, headed 'leagues' (ليك) and each set of columns assigned to a pair of rhumbs (ff. 74r-77r);
  • 8) Table with coordinates for locations in the Persian Gulf The historical term used to describe the body of water between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. (ff. 79r-98v);
  • 9) Table with coordinates for places (f. 99r);
  • 10) Brief text with diagram on determining the month (f. 102r);
  • 11) Brief text titled Section on knowledge of the spheres and heavens (فصل في معرفة الأفلاك والسموات) with diagram of the celestial spheres (f. 102v);
  • 12) Brief text on calculating latitude and longitude with table of the Latin, Zodiacal and Islamic months (f. 103r);
  • 13) Brief text perhaps on finding the rhumb (khann) for a location under the star Polaris (jāh) with two tables (f. 103v);
  • 14) Short text on calculating the weekday with which a given month will begin (ff. 104r-106r) attributed to Muḥammad ibn Ṭalʻat al-Shāfiʻī (محمد بن طلعت الشافعي, see f. 104r, lines 1-2). The tables accompanying the calculation described in the text employ the mnemonic (?) phrase '[in the] service of the Lord Sultan al-Malik al-Nāṣir Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn Yūsuf' (خدمة المولى السلطان الملك الناصر صلاح الدين يوسف, ff. 104r-104v and see upper row of table on f. 105r for correct reading order of the words in this phrase), which suggests that the text was dedicated to the Ayyūbid sultan of this name, known in Europe as Saladin (reg. 1169-93). The subsequent table (f. 105r) in which the calculations are applied to the Islamic months (also including two holidays of particular importance to Shiʻī Muslims: ʻĀshūrāʼ [10 Muḥarram] and al-Waqfah [= Yawm al-ʻArafah, 9 Dhū al-Ḥijjah]) is likely a later addition as are the tables for the Latin months of the years 1840-54 (ff. 105v-106r);
  • 15) Brief text titled Note explaining [how to] derive the latitude from the departure (فائدة في بيان إخراج العرض من المساج) followed by tables (ff. 106v-107r);
  • 16) Orthogonal projection of an armillary sphere with ecliptic, signs of the Zodiac and graduation along the axis marked (f. 107v);
  • 17) A cosmological dialogue with Jesus (عيسى) attributed to certain historians (في بعض التواريخ), a brief definition of cosmology (علم الهيئة) and a diagram of the elemental and celestial spheres (f. 108r);
  • 18) Table indicating the direction towards Mecca by stellar compass rhumbs from multiple locations titled On the explanation of knowing the qibla in (various) countries (في بيان معرفة القبلة في البلدان, f. 108v);
  • 19) Chapter on the variation between culminations, origin points, tropicals, fixeds and descenders (باب في اختلاف الغايات والمبادئ والتقلبات والثوابت والنوازل, ff. 109r-120v);
  • 20) Section on the chapter on knowledge of the longitude (فصل في باب معرفة الطول, ff. 121r-122v);
  • 21) Gazetteer of islands in the Indian Ocean (ff. 123r-124v).

Ends (f. 124v, lines 16-20):

وهي آخر جزائر الذيب ما بعدها جزيرة معمورة وأما

الخرابات فهي كثيرة وأما ذو الغراقة يحلها أربعة

والله تعالى أعلم وهو الهادي إلى سبيل الرشاد وإليه

المرجع والمآب وهو حسبني (!) ونعم الوكيل ونعم المولى ونعم

النصير وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد وآله وصحبه وسلم تسليمًا

Extent and format
Codex A collection of pages, usually gathered into quires, and bound between covers. ; ff. ii+17+i+60+ix+1+i+21+vi+2+iv+23+i+1+i
Physical characteristics

Material: Mixture of Eastern and Western laid papers

Dimensions: 245 x 166mm leaf [210 x135 mm written table area]

Foliation: British Museum foliation in pencil; twenty-two folios containing no text have intentionally been left unfoliated despite the fact that many are laid out with unfilled tables (see folios after ff. 17, 77, 78, 99, 101 and 124); mid- quire Collection of papers folded in half and stitched together to form a gathering of folios. marks indicate the gatherings are a mixture of quinions, quaternions and occasional ternions

Ruling: Misṭarah ; 22 lines per page; vertical spacing 12-13 lines per 10 cm on pages without tables

Script: Naskh ; the scribe is Saʿīd ibn Aḥmad ibn Khamīs ibn Brīk/Barlik (?) (سعيد بن أحمد بن خميس بن بريك/برلك [؟], see f. 120v, lines 12-15) and perhaps also Saʻīd ibn Ḥamad ibn Māṭir al-Tamāmī (سعيد بن حمد بن ماطر التمامي, see f. 98v, lines 7-9 and notes on f. 125r)

Ink: Black and red ink, with text frames and tables also in yellow and occasionally green and blue

Decoration: None

Binding: Mauve half leather binding

Condition: Leather of spine worn and flaking; evidence of damp (text block is warped); staining on second opening flyleaf

Marginalia: Almost none

Seals: British Museum stamp (ff. 1r and 25v)

Written in
Arabic in Arabic script
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Nautical almanac [‎111v] (275/308), British Library: Oriental Manuscripts, Or 2920, in Qatar Digital Library <https://www.qdl.qa/archive/81055/vdc_100151238230.0x00004c> [accessed 25 July 2024]

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