The Book of the Hyacinths in the Knowledge of the Dates of the Year


Little is known about the author of the present work, al-Ḥusayn ibn Zayd ibn ʻAlī Ibn Jaḥḥāf, apart from what can be inferred from the brief dedicatory note at the beginning of the present manuscript. It states that the work was composed for the Faṭimid caliph al-Ḥākim bi-ʼAmr Allāh, who died during the first quarter of the 11th century. The Kitāb al-Yawāqīt fī maʻrifat al-mawāqīt (The book of the hyacinths in the knowledge of the dates of the year) is composed of 12 calendrical tables, one for each month of the year, which are in turn divided according to the number of the days in each month. Some confusion regarding the order of the months dealt with in the tables appears to have arisen at a certain stage in the transmission of the manuscript, as the title page of each table provides two contrasting indications of the month covered. For example, in the heading of the first table, both January and October are mentioned. This discrepancy continues throughout the manuscript. The treatise provides a significant piece of information for each day on meteorological phenomena, such as the prevalence of a particular wind or the levels of the sea, or on the zodiacal configuration, such as the entrance of the sun in a particular sign of the zodiac. The manuscript concludes with a table codifying the meaning of the appearance of letters of the Arabic alphabet in dreams and two pages from the treatise Kašf al-qināʻ fī rasm al-arbāʻ (The lifting of the veil in the drawing of the lands) on the interpretation of dreams. These last items are dedicated to the ruler of Asia Minor, Muḥammad b. Ḥawwā, here described as malik al-Rūm (Roman emperor)

Last updated: July 22, 2013