Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Astrolabe of ‘Umar ibn Yusuf ibn ‘Umar ibn ‘Ali ibn Rasul al-Muzaffari

‘Umar ibn Yusuf ibn ‘Umar ibn ‘Ali ibn Rasul al-Muzaffari
Object Name:
dated A.H. 690/ A.D. 1291
Brass; cast and hammered, pierced, chased, inlaid with silver
Case (a): Max. W. 7 5/8 in. (19.4 cm) Diam. 6 1/8 in. (15.6 cm) D. 1/4 in. (0.6 cm) Bar with attached nail (b): Max. H. 1 7/8 in. (4.8 cm) Max. W. 1 1/8 in. (2.9 cm) L. 5 in. (12.7 cm) Net (c): Diam. 5 in. (12.7 cm) Plates (d-g): Diam. 5 in. (12.7 cm) Pin (h): L. 1 3/4 in. (4.4 cm) W. 1/2 in. (1.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Edward C. Moore Collection, Bequest of Edward C. Moore, 1891
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 454
For an object produced during the medieval period, this astrolabe is unusually well documented. Its inscription attributes it to a Rasulid prince, 'Umar ibn Yusuf, a few years before he ascended to the throne (r. 1295–96). 'Umar compiled a number of scientific treatises, including one on the construction of astrolabes, an autographed version of which, preserved in Cairo, contains certifications by his teachers as to his competence as a maker of such devices and a description of this very piece.
Signature: Made and signed by the Rasulid prince al-Ashraf `Umar ibn Yusuf, later Sultan of Yemen (r.1295-96).

Inscription: Inscription in Arabic in naskhi script on back of case:

هذا الاصطرلاب عمل عمر بن یوسف بن عمر بن علي بن رسول المظفري مُباشرةً وإملاً سنة ح ٦٩

This astrolabe is the work of ‘Umar ibn Yusuf ibn
‘Umar ibn ‘Ali ibn Rasul al-Muzaffari directly [by himself]
and by his instruction in the year A.H. 690 [1291 A.D.]
Edward C. Moore, New York (until d. 1891; bequeathed to MMA)
Museum für Islamische Kunst, Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. "The Arts of Islam. Masterpieces from the M.M.A.," June 15, 1981–August 8, 1981.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Renaissance of Islam: Art of the Mamluks," November 21, 1981–January 10, 1982.

Museum Fünf Kontinente. "3000 Jahre Kunst und Kultur des Gluecklichen Arabien," April 29, 1987–April 5, 1988.

Mexico City. Colegio de San Ildefonso. "Arte islamico del Museo Metropolitano de Arte de Nueva York," September 30, 1994–January 8, 1995.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Five-Petaled Rosette: Mamluk Art for the Sultans of Yemen," June 22, 1995–December 31, 1995.

Paris. Institut du Monde Arabe. "The Golden Age of Islamic Sciences," October 25, 2005–March 19, 2006.

"Specimens of Mohammedan Art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum Studies vol. 1, no. 1 (November 1928). p. 107, ill. fig. 8 (b/w).

"Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York." In The Arts of Islam. Berlin, 1981. no. 56, pp. 146-147, ill. p. 147 (color).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Daniel S. Walker, Arturo Ponce Guadián, Sussan Babaie, Stefano Carboni, Aimee Froom, Marie Lukens Swietochowski, Tomoko Masuya, Annie Christine Daskalakis-Matthews, Abdallah Kahil, and Rochelle Kessler. "Colegio de San Ildefonso, Septiembre de 1994-Enero de 1995." In Arte Islámico del Museo Metropolitano de Arte de Nueva York. Mexico City: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1994. no. 81, pp. 206-207, ill. p. 207 (b/w).

L'Age d'Or des Sciences Arabes. Paris: Institut du Monde Arabe, 2005. no. 26, pp. 98-99, ill. fig. 26 (color).

Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 107, pp. 158-159, ill. p. 158 (color).

King, David A. Islamic Astronomy and Geography. Farnham, England: Ashgate, 2012. p. 156, ill. fig. 9.6.

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