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Muḥammad al-Farghānī’s Elements of Chronology and Astronomy
This work is a Latin translation of al-Farghānī’s influential and well-known Kitāb jawāmiʿ ʿilm al-nujūm wa uṣūl al-ḥarakāt al-samāwīya (Book of generalities of astronomy and bases of celestial motions). Aḥmad ibn Moḥammad ibn Kathīr al-Farghānī was an astronomer who flourished at the court of the early Abbasid caliphs. He appears to have been active in the court of al-Ma’mun. If he is the same figure who is said to have been entrusted by al-Mutawakkil with the construction of the nilometer in Cairo, then he would have been active ...
Compendium of Latin Translations of Persian Astronomical Tables
This volume is a compendium of six works that includes Latin translations of portions of the Zīj-i Sulṭānī by Muḥammad Ṭaraghāy ibn Shāhrukh ibn Tīmūr (1394–1449), known as Ulugh Beg. The other works include an excerpt from the Taqwīm al-Buldān (entitled “A Description of Khwārazm and Transoxiana from the Tables of Abū al-Fidāʾ”) by Abū al-Fidāʾ Ismāʿīl Ibn ʿAlī (1273-1331), and a star table by Muhammad ibn Muhammad Tizīnī. Ulugh Beg (“Great Commander” in Turkish) was a grandson of Tīmūr (known in the West as Tamerlane) and the ...
Muḥammad al-Farghānī’s Elements of Chronology and Astronomy
Aḥmad ibn Moḥammad ibn Kathīr al-Farghānī (flourished 861) was an astronomer who worked at the court of the early Abbasid caliphs. He appears to have been active in the court of al-Ma’mun, and he may well be the same figure who is said to have been entrusted by al-Mutawakkil with the construction of the nilometer in Cairo. In that case, he would have been active from the early decades of the ninth century to his death in 861 (spanning the rules of al-Ma’mun, al-Muʿtaṣim, al-Wāthiq, and ...
The Precious Book on Noteworthy Dates
This short work, entitled Kitāb al-yawāqīt fī ma‘rifat al-mawāqīt, and copied by an anonymous scribe in Shawwāl in June-July 1775 (AH 1168), is attributed to Ḥusayn (or Ḥasan) b. Zayd b. ‘Alī al-Jaḥḥāf, who is said to have dedicated it to Abū ‘Alī Manṣūr al-Ḥākim bi Amr-Allāh, the sixth Fāṭimid ruler (died 996). The manuscript lists the 12 months of the year, each on one sheet, in the form of an almanac. The last page is a one-page guide to the interpretation of dreams, reportedly prepared at the behest ...
The Tianyuan Jade Calendar in Verse Prose on the Auspicious and Unusual Signs
The author of this calendar is unknown. Traditionally it was attributed to Liu Ji (1311–75), an early Ming military strategist and statesman. This copy was issued in the 13th year (1477) of the Chenghua reign of the Ming. Several other editions were made, such as the one printed in 1619, a number of which are held by the National Central Library in Taiwan. Presented here is a one-juan handwritten copy, a rare early manuscript that is slightly damaged. The work lists 60 items, with four-character headings, such as “Heaven ...
Calendar Compendium Following the New Western Method
Xu Guangqi (1562–1633), a scholar and official, was a native of Shanghai. He came into contact with Christianity in 1596, later met the Jesuit missionaries Matteo Ricci and João da Rocha in Nanjing, and was baptized in 1603 under the name Paul. After receiving a jin shi degree in 1604, Xu became a bachelor in the Hanlin Academy. From 1604 to 1607 he worked continuously with Ricci, translating works on mathematics, hydraulics, astronomy, and geography, among them Euclid’s Elements, entitled Ji he yuan ben. In 1628 Xu was ...
The Great Song Baoyou Calendar Produced in 1256
This work is a rare Qing copy of the 1256 Southern Song manuscript calendar, copied by painter Cheng Xugu in 1815. The first page records the location of the god of the year 1256, the nine constellations, the seven-color spectrum, and the size of the moon. Following this page is the report, dated the tenth month of the third year of the Baoyou reign of the Southern Song (1255) and submitted by the Astrological Service Bureau, responding to the imperial order to print the calendar. The report was signed by ...
Reprint Edition of the General Introduction to Calendrical Astronomy
This work originally was written by Wang Yingming (died 1614) and was thought to be the first work of a Chinese scholar influenced by Western learning, as Wang was greatly influenced by Li Zhizao (1565–1630), the official and scholar who undertook the translation of several works by European Jesuit missionaries to China. The manuscript was completed in 1612. It was first published by Wang’s son Wang Yang in 1639. Shown here is a reprinted edition, published in 1646 by Jiguge, the largest publishing house established in Changshu in ...
Snippets on the Three Calendars
Presented here is a manuscript copy of a Song edition of a collection of calendars, issued in the late-Ming dynasty by Jiguge, the largest private publishing house established in the late Ming. The work has three parts. Part one contains supplements on the auspicious days in each of the 12 months for the following activities: weddings, marriage proposals, gift giving, travel, boarding a ship, taking office, starting construction, scaffolding a house, digging the ground, moving into a house, burial, wearing and taking off a robe, filing a suit, opening a ...
The Dresden Codex
Only four Mayan manuscripts still exist worldwide, of which the oldest and best preserved is the Dresden Codex, held in the collections of the Saxon State and University Library. The manuscript was purchased for the Dresden court library in 1739 in Vienna, as a “Mexican book.” In 1853 it was identified as a Mayan manuscript. Consisting of 39 leaves, inscribed on both sides, and approximately 358 centimeters long, the manuscript originally was folded in an accordion-like manner. The chalk-coated writing material, amatl, is a paper-like matter produced from fig-tree fiber ...
“Pragmatica” on the Ten Days of the Year
This work is the first known South American imprint. It consists of a four-page edict, issued by King Philip II of Spain, decreeing the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. In order to bring the calendar back into line with the seasons, in February 1582 Pope Gregory XIII deleted ten days from the year 1582, so that October 4, 1582, of the Julian calendar was followed immediately by October 15, 1582, in the new Gregorian calendar. This work was produced in 1584 by Antonio Ricardo, an Italian typographer ...
The Book of Remedies from Deficiencies in Setting Up Marble Sundials
This work is a treatise for timekeepers (singular muwaqqit), and discusses the telling of time from such astronomical observations as the sun’s angle of inclination (mayl), altitude (irtifā‛), as well as the direction (samt) and length of cast shadows (zill). In 14 chapters, the author goes through methods for the computation of these factors, determination of the direction of prayer (qibla), and time of the day. He observes that using instruments (ālāt), such as markings on the ruler (mistara) and the compass (bargār, from the Persian pargār), and geometric ...
Seasonal Almanac Based on the Coptic Calendar
The author of this work, Shaykh al-Islām Ahmad al-Bashtakī, lived in Bashtak near central Cairo. The work goes through the 13 months of the Coptic calendar: Tūt (Thout), Bāba (Paopi), Hātūr (Hathur), Koihak (Koiak), Tūba (Tobi), Imshīr (Meshir), Baremhāt (Paremhat), Barmūda (Paremoude), Bashons (Pashons), Bawna or Būna (Paoni), Ibīb (Epip), Misurī (Mesori), and the Days of Nasī (ayyām al-nasī; also known as the Little Month, Pi Kogi Enavot, or El Nasii). The work gives the corresponding months in the Roman and Persian calendars, notes the astrological significance of days, and ...
Treatise for Observers on Constructing the Circle of Projection
This work is a treatise on the important subject of timekeeping. It is a work of technical astronomy, in 19 folios, that begins by emphasizing the religious significance of knowledge of time. It is divided into an introduction, two chapters, and a conclusion. Comprehensive procedures for the construction of tables and their use are provided. The work was completed in 1473 (878 A.H.).
Compendium on Using the Device Known as the Almucantar Quarter
This work, by a timekeeper at the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, is an important and comprehensive textbook on timekeeping. It introduces the useful device of dividing a quarter of a circle of projection into sections known as almucantars (muqanṭarāt). The work, comprising 100 folio pages, contains 30 chapters and a conclusion. The work was composed in 1440-1 (844 A.H.) and was copied in 1757 (1170 A.H.).
The Travelers Guide on Drawing the Circle of Projection
This is a work on timekeeping and the determination of the direction of prayer (qibla), particularly intended for people who travel. The author, Abu al-‛Abbās Shihāb al-Dīn Ahmad b. Zayn al-Dīn Rajab b. Tubayghā al-Atābakī, known as al-Majdī or Ibn al-Majdī (1366-1447 [767-850 A.H.]), was descended from a powerful family with ties to Mamlūk rulers and was a renowned and prominent mathematician, geometrician, and astronomer. He served as the timekeeper of the Al-Azhar Mosque. This work is an abridgment of his other major book, Irshād al-ḥā’ir ilā ...
Maximum Benefit from the Knowledge of Circles of Projection on the 30 Degree Northern Latitude
This work, a treatise on practical astronomy, deals with such issues as timekeeping and determining the proper direction of prayer. The work begins with a brief introduction, but the bulk of the manuscript contains tables used to determine time. The introductory section contains illustrative examples on how to use the tables.
Deliverance from Error on Knowledge of Times of Day and the Direction of Prayer
This work on elementary knowledge of practical astronomy begins by emphasizing the religious significance of knowing how to keep the time and how to determine the proper direction of prayer (qibla). It describes the conventional correspondence between ordinal numbers and the letters of the Arabic alphabet. It then enumerates, and goes through, the names of the months in the lunar Arabic calendar and in the solar Coptic calendar. It highlights certain important dates, such as the beginning of the New Year, and introduces the 12 zodiacal signs. The front page ...
Winds of the Four Directions
This oracle bone from around 1200 B.C. contains 24 characters in four groups in a vigorous and strong style, typical of the Bin group of diviners in the reign of Wu Ding (circa 1200-1189 B.C.). It records the gods of the four directions and of the four winds. The winds of the four directions reflect the spring and autumn equinoxes, the summer and winter solstices, and the changes of the four seasons. The four winds are the east wind, called Xie; the south wind, called Wei; the west ...
A Treatise on Zodiacal Signs and Constallations: Unique Jewels on the Benefits of Keeping Time
This work is an introductory, but well-organized, treatise on the elements of time-keeping and reckoning. The treatise is divided into seven sections and a conclusion. It introduces the Arabic, Coptic, and Syriac (or Alexandrian) calendars, and comments on the Persian, Roman, and Hebraic calendars. The work gives the names and lengths of the months in various calendars, explains the different methods for ascertaining the beginnings of years and months, discusses the signs of the zodiac and their relation to the four seasons, and describes the apparent motion of the sun ...
An Arabic Translation of the Astronomical Tables of Ulugh Beg
This manuscript contains a 15th–16th century translation from Persian into Arabic by Yaḥyā ibn Alī al-Rifā‘ī of the introduction of the celebrated zīj (astronomical tables or records of daily occurrences) by Ulugh Beg (1394–1449). In the introduction to his work, al-Rifā‘ī states that he undertook the project at the behest of Egyptian astronomer Shams al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Abū al-Fatḥ al-Ṣūf ī al-Miṣrī (died circa 1494), who was involved in studying and revising Ulugh Beg's zīj for Cairo's geographical coordinates. The present manuscript copy of ...