Conquering the Time: An Example of a Manual for Making an Astrolabe Quadrant: Muhammad Qunawī's Hadiyyat al-Mulūk


Perhaps the most fruitful and valuable outcome of the advancements in astronomy that occurred in the Muslim world is the extraordinary development of instrumentation. With the application of trigonometry on a higher level and more accurate than ever before, Muslim astronomers developed new devices and techniques. One of these first-of-its-kind devices is the astrolabe quadrant, which is a simpler and easier-to-use version of the astrolabe. This instrument, albeit less accurate than the large-scale ones, is quite practical since it has all the markings of an astrolabe’s front and rete, only inside a quarter of a circle. This small and portable device can be used by anyone who has a basic knowledge of astronomy and a simple user manual. It became popular specifically among those astronomers who worked on timekeeping. Although it is a very popular instrument, manuals for making it are quite rare. Muhammad ibn Kātib Sīnān al-Qunawī al-Muwaqqit (d. c. 1524), one of the most important Ottoman astronomers in this regard, wrote two treatises on how to make an astrolabe quadrant: Hadiyyat al-Mulūk and Risala fī ma‘rifat wad‘ al-rub‘ al-dāirat al-mawdu‘ ‘ala al-muqantarāt. Both of these treatises are the earliest manuals in Turkish for making this instrument. This article aims to introduce manuals for instrument-making via the example of Qunawī’s detailed explanatory remarks in his Hadiyyat al-Mulūk. It follows his instructions step by step and uses his tables. At the end of the article is an astrolabe quadrant drawn according to his instructions. For more comprehensive studies, the transliteration of the treatise is attached in the appendix.


Muhammad ibn Kātib Sīnān al-Qunawī al-Muwaqqit rub‘ al-muqantarāt astrolabe quadrant Ottoman astronomy astronomical instruments ‘ilm al-mīqāt