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"The Elephant Clock", Folio from a Book of the Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices by al-Jazari

Calligrapher:
Farrukh ibn `Abd al-Latif
Author:
Badi al-Zaman ibn al-Razzaz al-Jazari (1136–1206)
Object Name:
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Date:
dated A.H. 715/A.D. 1315
Geography:
Syria
Culture:
Islamic
Medium:
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Dimensions:
11 13/16 x 7 3/4in. (30 x 19.7cm) Mat: 19 1/4 x 14 1/4 in. (48.9 x 36.2 cm) Frame: 20 1/4 x 15 1/4 in. (51.4 x 38.7 cm)
Classification:
Codices
Credit Line:
Bequest of Cora Timken Burnett, 1956
Accession Number:
57.51.23
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 454
This page comes from a treatise on fantastic devices invented by the author al‑Jazari. His elephant clock was especially intricate: every half hour, the bird on the dome whistled; the man below dropped a ball into the dragon’s mouth; and the driver hit the elephant with his goad. While illustrated manuscripts were growing increasingly popular at the time, this folio is a rare survival from Syria, where few such manuscripts are known from this date.
Inscription: Inscription in Arabic in naskhi script at lower left:
الفصل الثاني صح فصل
The second chapter is the correct chapter
Cora Timken Burnett, Alpine, NJ (by 1932–d. 1956; bequeathed to MMA)
Ackerman, Phyllis. "The Iranian Institute, New York." In Guide to the Exhibition of Persian Art. 2nd. ed. New York: The Iranian Institute, 1940. no. Gallery VII; case 72G, p. 190.

Dimand, Maurice S. "New Accessions of Islamic Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 16 (April 1958). pp. 227-335, ill. p. 229 (b/w).

Swietochowski, Marie, and Richard Ettinghausen. "Islamic Painting." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 36, no. 2 (Autumn 1978). pp. 4-5, ill. p. 5 (b/w).

Welch, Stuart Cary. The Islamic World. vol. 11. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. pp. 50-51, ill. fig. 35 (color).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. p. 133, ill. (color).

Bernus-Taylor, Marthe. "Musee du Louvre 23 avril–23 juillet 2001." In L'Etrange et le Merveilleux en Terres d'Islam. Paris: Musée du Louvre, 2001.

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. 92, pp. 6, 143-145, ill. p. 144 (color).



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