VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Astrolabe
1999.1562
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

A masterpiece implies the handiwork of a master. As such, this elegantly crafted astrolable is called a masterpiece for it was made by a famous instrument maker living in Isfahan, Iran. His name is ‘Abd al-A’immah. Around 30 instruments and three sundials are believed to have survived from his workshop. These instruments are known for their accuracy as well as for their elegance, both of which are characteristics of astrolabes made in Safavid Iran during the second half of the 17th century.

History of the Object
The back of this astrolable contains an inscription which reads ‘sana’ahu ‘Abd al-A’imma’ – made by ‘Abd al-A’imma’ (The slave of the (Shiite) Imams). This indicates that this astrolabe was made in ‘Abd al-A’imma’s workshop. It was made for use in Isfahan.

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Type
Other 
Materials
Copper alloy 
Measurements
Diam: 15 cm 
Creator name
‘Abd al-A’imma’ 
Creator date
late 17th and early 18th centuries 
Where it was made
Isfahan, Iran 
Geography
Iran 
Time period
AD 18th century ~ AD 18th century 
Creation date
18th Century; c.1700 
Function
The astrolabe is an astronomical instrument which worked like a computer. It enabled one to calculate distances, solve trigonometry and tell the time. 
Acquisition
The museum acquired this piece in 1999. It is an important addition to the museum's small collection of scientific instruments. 
Copyright
Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore 
Acknowledgements
Tan Huism 
Owner
Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore 
Museum
Asian Civilisations Museum 
Credit line
Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore 

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