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astrolabic quadrant

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Astrolabic quadrant, lacquered paper-covered fruitwood. Made in AH 1307/1308 (1891/92), in the classical style.

  • Producer name

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1891-1892 (AH 1307/1308)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 13.4 centimetres (radius along edge with sighting vanes)
    • Length: 11 centimetres (radius along straight edge)
    • Thickness: 2 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

        between the compass and the data table
      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Content

        رسمه الفقير محمّد الصكّاصي الجركسي
      • Inscription Transliteration

        rasamahu alfaqir Muhammad al-Sakkāsi al-Jarkasi
      • Inscription Translation

        Drawn by the poor Muhammad al-Sakasi al-Jarkasi
  • Curator's comments

    This belongs to a type of astrolabe which an official or merchant might have used in the Ottoman empire in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the small rectangular panel on one side there is a perpetual calendar calculated for the Islamic lunar year. Its earliest date is AH 1308 and it has the idiosyncratically Turkish feature of being calculated for cycles of eight years. Also on this side, there is a second perpetual calendar calculated for the Turkish solar year. The Turks were unique within Islam in adopting a solar year for all their financial transactions while still using the lunar calendar for religious festivals. The name of this financial year was 'maliye'. 'Maliye' calendars were also slightly odd in the fact that they marked leap years one year early and therefore according to these calendars this quadrant was made in AH 1307 whereas according to the Islamic calendar it was made in AH 1308. On the side with the compass there is a correspondence table between four different calendars: the Islamic, the Turkish 'maliye' year, the Christian Coptic and a French Julian, rendered into Ottoman Turkish transcriptions. Each of these is laid out month by month relative to the Arabic names of the months. If one takes the first Arabic month of Nissan, according to the 'maliye' calendar, the month starts five days after Nissan begins whereas according to the French calendar the first day of mars [March] starts twelve days after Nissan, and by calculating astronomically the first point of the sign of Aries begins 23 days after the beginning of Nissan.
    Source: Lippincott ed. 1999.References:

    Sophie Cluzan, Eric Delpont and Jeanne Mouliérac (eds.), Syrie, Mémoire et Civilisation, Paris (1993), object no.337, pp442-3.


  • Bibliography

    • Lippincott 1999 p.72, cat.067 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G34/dc8/no2

  • Exhibition history


    1999 1 Dec-2000 24 Sep, London, The Queen’s House, The Story of Time
    1993, Paris, Institut du Monde Arabe, Syrie - Mémoire et Civilisation

  • Condition


  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Christies' South Kensington, 13 December 1996, lot 599.

  • Department

    Middle East

  • Registration number


Astrolabe quadrant, lacquered paper-covered fruitwood.  Made in 1307/1891-92, in the classical style.

Astrolabe quadrant, lacquered paper-covered fruitwood. Made in 1307/1891-92, in the classical style.

Image description



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Object reference number: RRM31737

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