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ULUGH BEG.

[Title in Persian] Jadawel mavādeh thavābet dar tool wa ard keh be rasad yāft-e Oloq Bayk ben Sharokh ben Taymoor.

sive Tabulae long ac. lat. stellarum fixarum... Ex tribus invicèm collatis MSS Persicis jam primùm luce ac Latio donavit, & commentariis illustravit, Thomas Hyde A.M. è Coll. Reginae Oxon. In calce Libri accesserunt Mohammedis Tizini tabulae declinationum & rectarum ascensionum. Additur demum elenchus nominum stellarum. [Bound with two other related works (see below).]

Oxford : 1665 Stock Code: 138572
£38,500.00
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Notes

Editio princeps of Ulugh Beg's Zij-i Jadid-i Sultani, "the greatest of star catalogues between those of Ptolemy in the 2nd century CE and Brahe in the 16th" (Ency. Brit.) Ulugh Beg (1394-1449) was the grandson of Timur, known in Europe as Tamerlane. In 1409, his father, Shah Rukh, appointed him governor of Samarkand; he quickly set about turning the city into "the most important centre of science in the Islamic realm" (idem), constructing a great madrasah and "the most advanced astronomical observatory of his time Although it operated for little more than thirty years it made the most extensive observations of planets and fixed stars of any Islamic observatory" (Oxford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, Science, and Technology in Islam, p. 394).
In his preface Ulugh Beg explains that he compiled the Zij with the collaboration of Qadizade al-Rumi, Ghiyath al-Din al-Kashi, and 'Ali Qushji: the pre-eminent astronomers of the age. Their star catalogue for the year 1437 amounted to "the only large-scale observation of star coordinates made in Islamic territory in the medieval period", determining the positions of 1018 individual stars (idem). The work significantly revised the findings of classical figures such as Ptolemy and Hipparchos, in addition to those of the later Arab astronomers, who in turn had relied to a considerable extent on their Greek antecedents. The astronomers of Renaissance Europe, notably Johannes Hevelius (1611-87), benefited greatly from these emended readings, which remained in use in the Islamic world until the 19th century (see Soucek, A History of Inner Asia, p. 130). Their first appearance in print was in 1648, when the latitudes and longitudes of 98 stars as determined in the Zij were published as part of a work entitled Canicularia by English astronomer John Bainbridge (1582-1643). It was only in 1665 that Thomas Hyde (1636-1703), then a young student of oriental languages at Oxford, published the star catalogue in full, with a lengthy commentary and a parallel Latin translation. Hyde was notoriously lazy as a teacher, with the consequence that "his tenure of chairs in Arabic and Hebrew was not notably distinguished, though his linguistic abilities above all in Persian and also in Arabic were remarkable" (ODNB).
Ulugh Beg's star catalogue can be considered one of the last great achievements of Islamic astronomy. "Because of the problems inherent in integrating the Zoroastrian (solar) and Hijra (lunar) temporal systems, the Iranians were in the forefront of observational astronomy. They built the three earliest and most advanced observatories and produced the three most accurate and sophisticated astronomical treatises. The Seljuq ruler Malik Shah (r. 1072 - 1092) erected his observatory in Isfahan and his munajjims compiled the Zij-i Malik Shahi. The Ilkhanid ruler Hulaghu (r. 1256 - 1265) constructed his observatory at Maragha, near Tabriz, and Nasir al-Din Tusi (1201-1274) and his collaborators produced the Ziji-Ilkhani. Finally, the Timurid ruler Ulugh Beg (1394-1449) constructed an observatory in Samarkand and oversaw the composition of the Zij-i Sultani or Gurgani. After Ulugh Beg, however, the Iranian interest in observational astronomy seemed to die out" (Blake, Time in Early Modern Islam, p. 53).
Hyde's edition of the Zij-i Jadid was also one of the first books printed in Oxford using Arabic types, the very first having been Bainbridge's Canicularia in 1648 (see above). The advent of Arabic printing in that city marked "a turning point in oriental studies in England" (Alastair Hamilton, "The Learned Press: Oriental Languages", in The History of Oxford University Press, p. 402). As official printer to the University of Oxford, Henry Hall was responsible for introducing a variety of Arabic, Persian and Turkish works to a European readership for the first time. While Pococke's Specimen Historiae Arabum (1650) offered Europeans an unprecedented amount of new information on the history of the Islamic world, the 1665 printing of Ulugh Beg's star catalogue introduced them to the scientific achievements of the Timurid dynasty.
The other two works in the volume are:
ULUGH BEG. Epochae celebriores, astronomis, historicis, chronologis, Chataiorum, Syro-Graecorum, Arabum, Persarum, Chorasmiorum, usitatae: ex traditione Ulug Beigi, Indiae citra extráque Gangem principis: eas primus publicavit, recensuit, et commentariis illustravit Johannes Gravius. London: Jacobi Flesher, 1650; and Abu al-Fidaʾ Ismaʿil ibn ʿAli. Chorasmiae, et Mawaralnahrae, hoc est, regionum extra fluvium Oxum descriptio, ex tabulis Abulfedae Ismaelis, principis Hamah. London: n.p., 1650.
This work was paid for by Hyde himself, although he may have been assisted financially by Bishop Seth Ward. Hyde edited it from three manuscripts in the Bodleian (one of them from Edward Pococke), and part of the text had already appeared (edited by John Greaves) in Bainbridge's Canicularia (cf. Macclesfield Science A-C, lot 282). The third book is the first Western edition of any of Abulfida's writings. The latter two books were probably issued together: the third book has separate pagination and a dated title page, but the publisher is not named and the register begins with 2A.

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Description

Three books in 1, quarto (209 x 164 mm). Later, probably 20th-century sheep to style, brown morocco spine label, spine with gilt rules, boards blind-ruled.

Illustrations

First book: text in Latin and Persian with occasional Greek, Hebrew and Syriac types, title printed in red and black, genealogical diagram to f. 4v, 4 woodcut figurative initials, 2 similar vignettes to signatures B2v and B3r, frequent floral head- and ta

Condition

Manuscript star chart bound after first book; some underlining and occasional marginalia in an early hand. Binding rubbed in places, repair to title of first book, stain touching head and foot of first 3 ff., manuscript leaf browned, second book wanting A1 (blank except for rules on verso), overall very good.

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