"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

Description

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.

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