Academic/Museums, Astrolabe research

Astrolabe with “eye”

The day after posting my little “eye of the astrolabe” sketch, I found this at the UCL Qatar library. Doesn’t that decorated pin look like an eye in the middle!

Safavid astrolabe with "eye" on central pin.
Safavid astrolabe dated 1666 AD. Bernard O’Kane, The World of Islamic Art (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2008), p.41.).

EDIT: Looking at it now, I think this is this astrolabe in the V&A collection – just assembled with the alidade in front, the horse at the back, and with a different plate right behind the rete.

2 thoughts on “Astrolabe with “eye”

  1. This is really cool, the way the astrolabe with an eye turns up right beside your Melanippe drawing: it shows how they have — I don’t know what to call it — something of the same artistic flavor? They both feature dense textures of curving lines that sometimes intersect and sometimes run almost parallel. And seeing the drawing at this resolution makes it stand out that it has a little Melanippe set off in a circle on the left, and the astrolabe also has a circle setting off an internal region… if this region also had a different texture from its surroundings, it would be… I don’t know what term to use… even more artistically analogous.

    1. Thanks for this, Leon! Speaking generally, my drawing style has definitely been influenced by the vegetal motifs and organic compositions of Islamic astrolabe retes. I don’t think I consciously had astrolabes in mind when working on ‘Melanippe‘, but I was aware that some of Melanippe’s myths involve her being turned into a constellation (which inspired the “starglobe” on the left of the image). So I’m sure some unconscious associations happened!

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