A sublime Persian horoscope crafted from lapis lazuli and gold leaf by hand for Prince Iskandar. The Prince was named after Alexander the Great and was the grandson of Tamerlane, the Turkman Mongol conqueror.
This horoscope shows the positions of the stars and planets in the sky at the moment of Iskandar’s birth on 25th April 1384. He died in 1415, only 4 years after the horoscope was made.
The manuscript is an exquisite work of art and an exemplary production of the royal kitabkhana ‘publishing house’ or ‘workshop’. It was created in 1411, and is extravagantly illustrated, not only on this beautiful fly leaf.
It includes the work of astronomers (among them Imad ad-Din Mahmud al-Kashi), illuminators, gilders, calligraphers and craftsmen, as well as specialists in paper-making. The manuscript was bought in Iran in 1794 by John H. Harrington, who had started his career as a clerk in the East India Company. After this it was bought by Sir Henry Wellcome in 1932 at Sotheby’s for £6.
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Courtesy of Wellcome Library