Folio from Kitab fi ma’arifat al-hiyal al-handisaya (The book of knowledge of ingenious mechanical devices) Automata by al-Jazari (died 1206); recto: text; verso: text and illustration: The water clock of the drummers

citation

Detached folio from a dispersed copy of the Kitab fi ma’arifat al-hiyal al-handisaya (The book of knowledge of ingenious mechanical devices), “Automata,” by al-Jazari; text: Arabic in black naskh script; recto: text, 20 lines; verso: illustration and text: The water clock of the drummers, 3 lines; one of a group of 8 folios.

Maker(s)
Calligrapher: Farruq ibn Abd al-Latif
Historical period(s)
Mamluk period, 1315 (715 A.H.)
Medium
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
H x W: 30.8 x 21.5 cm (12 1/8 x 8 7/16 in)
Geography
probably Syria
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
F1942.10
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Manuscript
Type

Detached manuscript folio

Keywords
automata, horn, Mamluk period (1250 - 1517), naskh script, Syria, water clock, WWII-era provenance
Provenance

To 1942
Dikran G. Kelekian, Inc., New York to 1942 [1]

From 1942
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Dikran G. Kelekian, Inc. in 1942 [2]

Notes:

[1] See Freer Gallery or Art Purchase List after 1920, Collections Management Office.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s)

Dikran G. Kelekian, Inc.

Description

Detached folio from a dispersed copy of the Kitab fi ma'arifat al-hiyal al-handisaya (The book of knowledge of ingenious mechanical devices), "Automata," by al-Jazari; text: Arabic in black naskh script; recto: text, 20 lines; verso: illustration and text: The water clock of the drummers, 3 lines; one of a group of 8 folios.

Label

Commonly referred to as the Automata, al-Jaziri's fascinating text is devoted to the construction of fifty mechanical devices, including fountains, clocks, pitchers, and gates. The first section describes a variety of clocks, fueled by either heat or water. According to al-Jaziri, at every hour the figure on the parapet of this elaborate and playful device moves one crenellation. The falcon in the center drops a ball from its beak into the vessel below, setting off a chime that in turn signals the musicians to play.

Although intended primarily as an illusrative diagram, the composition's overall execution, especially the animated group of musicians, attests to the artistic sophistication of early Arab painting.

Published References
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Art of the Arab World. Exh. cat. Washington, 1975. cat. 45, p. 104.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Renaissance of Islam: Art of the Mamluks. Exh. cat. Washington. pp. 255-56, fig. 1, 15.
  • Anna Contadini. The Kitab Manafi 'al Hayawan in the Escorial Library. no. 3. cat. 5, p. 48.
  • L'Age d'or des sciences arabes: Exposition présentée a l'Institut du monde arabe, Paris, 25 octobre 2005-19 mars 2006. Exh. cat. Arles and Paris. p. 217.
  • Andrew Lehr. De geschiedenis van het astronomisch kunstuurwerk: zijn techniek en muziek. Den Haag. p. 279.
  • Sabine Katharina Klaus. Trumpets and Other High Brass. p. 61, fig. 3.2.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum

Related Objects