Images from ‘Rumi & Astrolabes’

For those who attended my Rumi and Astrolabes talk, here are most of the images I used. The photos I took myself are posted directly, and I’ve provided links to the photos that don’t belong to me. (For a few images, I’m afraid I couldn’t find versions to link to that weren’t behind paywalls. But most of them are here.)

Let’s start with the photos I took at the MIA Qatar. Most of these were chosen to demonstrate design features of the rete and mater, but I also included the splayed out astrolabe so you could see the separate parts – and the wooden astrolabe simply because it’s a rare example of one:

About a third of my images came from the online astrolabe catalogue of Oxford’s Museum of the History of Science. (To find the Islamic astrolabes quickly, sort the list by language and look for the Arabic and Persian ones.) I encourage you to explore the database; there are many wonderful pieces in there.

Here are a few particular astrolabes I highlighed during the talk because they were special in one way or another:

Here is an astrolabe with attached prayer beads.

This is an unusual calligraphic rete with a dedication to a noble patron. Here is a more typical calligraphic rete with a religious inscription (there is a similar one at the MIA).

This astrolabe has a rather wonderful Persian poem inscribed around the edge of the rete, and the instrument as a whole includes a celestial map plate. (This is possibly my favourite astrolabe out of all the ones I’ve seen – be assured I intend to write more about it!)

Finally, here is the (fake, as we discussed) astrolabe I passed around:

my astrolabe