This page is from a dispersed copy of a manuscript, dated A.H. 715/A.D. 1315, of al-Jazari's Kitab fi ma'rifat al-hiyal al-handasiyya (The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanaical Devices, also known as The Automata). The drawing pertains to the chapter dealing with devices for raising water from pools or wells using animals. In this case, the donkey moves around the pole with the lever arm attached to its neck; its motion causes the wheels to rotate, thus raising the large ladle out of the water at regular intervals. The water is then discharged into the irrigation channel.
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Title:"Design on Each Side for Waterwheel Worked by Donkey Power", Folio from a Book of the Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices by al-Jazari
Author:Badi' al-Zaman ibn al-Razzaz al-Jazari (Northern Mesopotamia 1136–1206 Northern Mesopotamia)
Artist:Copy by Farrukh ibn `Abd al-Latif
Date:dated 715 AH/1315 CE
Geography:Attributed to probably Syria or Iraq
Medium:Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Dimensions:H. 11 5/8 in. (29. 5 cm) W. 8 3/8 in. (21.3 cm) Mat size: H. 19 in. (48.3 cm) W. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm) Frame: H. 21 5/8 in. (54.9 cm) W. 16 3/4 in. (42.5 cm)
Credit Line:Rogers Fund, 1955
Design for a Water-Raising Device
"The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices" (Kitab fi ma'rifat al-hiyal al-handasiyya), more generally known as the Automata, was written by an engineer named Badi' al-Zaman Abu al-'Izz Isma'-il ibn al-Razzaz al-Jaziri while in the service of the Artuqid sultan of Diyarbakr (located in the upper reaches of the Tigris river, in Eastern Turkey), Nasir al-Din, and was completed between 1204 and 1206. In the treatise the mechanical devices or automata are divided into six categories: the construction of clocks; vessels and figures suitable for drinking sessions; pitchers, basins, and other things; fountains and perpetual flutes; machines for raising water; and miscellaneous.
The drawing on this leaf illustrates the first chapter of the fifth category, which discusses machines for lifting water from a pool to a higher place by use of an animal (in this case a donkey) that turns a lever arm. It comes from a manuscript that was completed by the copyist Farrukh ibn 'Abd al-Latif al-Katib al-Yaquti al-Mawlawi in Ramadan, A.H. 715/December, A.D. 1315. Originally known in Istanbul, its illustrations are now dispersed in various collections in the West.
When the donkey pivots with the lever arm, the animal turns the wheel on the vertical axle. This activates the other wheels so that the scoop of the ladle is raised to let the water run out its stem into the irrigation channel. The workings of the device are clearly outlined in the text and supplemented by the illustration, which sets forth the concept of the instrument, and only serves as a working drawing in conjunction with the text. For example, the artist has separated the toothed wheels at the right, which work together to turn the partly toothed wheel at the left, which then engages the rungs seen below it, turning the bar that lifts the ladle.
The sure drawing, strong coloring, and felicitous placement of the illustration on the page transform a simple diagram into a work of art.
Marie Lukens Swietochowski in [Berlin 1981]
Inscription: In Arabic: The inscription and date of this manuscript are contained in folio 207 recto which finishes up the last chapter of the last book, continuing from folio 206 verso. Al-Jazari then makes a few remarks about the great value of his work, and beginning line 8 the scribe writes: "This manuscript is transcribed from the manuscript of the author, God's blessing be upon him. And the letters and their substitutes, and the drawing of the pictures of the chapters, and what he described, he did correctly, and wrote it with his own handwriting- may God be pleased with him." Beginning line 14 the colophon reads: "And praise be to God, the Lord of Worlds, and prayers and peace be upon Lord Muhammad and his family and all his companions. Written by the seeker after God Most High, Farkh ibn Abd al-Latif, the scribe, al-Yakuti almawlawi, praising God Most High and praying for his Prophet Muhammad and his family; at the end of Ramadan the blessed, year 715 A.H. [i.e., December 28, 1315]." (Translated by F.E. Day, 1956)
Jack S. Rofe, Scotland (until 1929; his sale, Sotheby's, London, December 12, 1929, no. 383, 385-387, 582); [ Hagop Kevorkian, New York, by 1930–at least 1953]; [ Kevorkian Foundation, New York, until 1955; sold to MMA]
Berlin. 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, no. 45.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Renaissance of Islam: Art of the Mamluks," November 21, 1981–January 10, 1982, suppl. #68-72.
Paris. Institut du Monde Arabe. "The Golden Age of Islamic Sciences," October 25, 2005–March 19, 2006, no. 130.
Paris. Institut du Monde Arabe. "Venise et l'Orient," October 2, 2006–February 18, 2007, not in catalogue.
Paris. Institut du Monde Arabe. "Oriental Gardens," April 18, 2016–September 25, 2016, no. 34.
Robinson, Basil William. The Kevorkian Collection: Islamic and Indian Illustrated Manuscripts, Miniature Paintings and Drawings. New York, 1953. no. I, p. 10.
Atil, Esin. Renaissance of Islam : Art of the Mamluks. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1981. pp. 255–57; describes Book of Knowledge of Mechanical Devices.
"Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York." In The Arts of Islam. Berlin, 1981. no. 45, pp. 124–25, ill. p. 125 (recto, color).
L'Age d'Or des Sciences Arabes. Paris: Institut du Monde Arabe, 2005. no. 130, p. 236, ill. (color).
Institut du Monde Arabe. "De l'Alhambra au Taj Mahal." In Jardins d'Orient. Paris: Editions Snoeck, 2016. no. 34, p. 204.
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