© Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia © Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia © Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia

Name of Object:



Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Holding Museum:

Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia


Hegira 411 / AD 1020

Type of object:


Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Carved and engraved brass


Measurement: L: 19cm (with hinges), D: 12.2cm, T: 1.2cm

Period / Dynasty:



Spain, Cordoba


This rare astrolabe is considered to be one of the oldest known dated astrolabes from Muslim Spain. It was made by the celebrated Andalusi astrolabist, Muhammad ibn al-Saffar in Cordoba, dated 411 AH / 1020 AD as mentioned in the signature within a square space at the back of its mater. The date follows the Arabic alphanumeric system known as abjad. The year is marked by a combination of letters ta-ya-alif, that corresponds to ta (400), ya (10) and alif (1), which totals up to 411. The astrolabe contains six plates which correspond to two localities for each plate, among which are Makkah, Damascus, Cairo and Cordoba. The rete, on the other hand, is a new addition from the 17th-century Ottoman Turkey. The maker of this astrolabe, Muhammad ibn al-Saffar (d. 1029) made several astrolabes and other scientific instruments with at least three are known to survive and are today scattered in different museums.

Citation of this web page:

 "Astrolabe" in Explore Islamic Art Collections , Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.museumwnf.org/thematicgallery/thg_galleries/database_item.php?itemId=objects;EPM;my;Mus21;47;en&id=scientific_objects

MWNF Working Number: MY1 47

Related Content

On display in

MWNF Galleries


As PDF (including images) As Word (text only)