It took me a while to pick an object because there was so much material in the Mughal India exhibit at the British Library. In the end I chose the astrolabe(which I read as astroLOBE before Professor Yousefzadeh pronounced it). It was in the room dedicated to science and medicine, right next to the celestial sphere that Courtney picked. The astrolabe was invented in 150BC in Alexandria. It has been used in multiple cultures. This doesn’t surprise me because it is part of the human condition to wonder at the mysteries of the world we live in. The sky is so vast and full of questions. The astrolabe was invented to answer these questions, and find what questions to ask in the first place. It calculates astrological measurements. It is used to locate and predict the location of the sun, moon, stars, and planets. It is more complex than a simple sundial, but it can be used to determine local time depending on latitude.
This particular astrolabe was crafted by Muh Muqim of Lahore, a prominent royal astronomer of Mughal India. We know this because it was common to sign your work. I can’t find in my notes what exactly this one was made out of, but it appeared to be iron or brass. I didn’t have a camera on me so I couldn’t manage to sneak a photo. All astrolabes are constructed similarly, and resemble the inner workings of a clock. I read that the astrolabes in Mughal India were more simple than Persian astrolabes, which came to be pretty complex.
I love that it is an important and formerly useful piece of technology, but is also a work of art. I was drawn to it in the first place because it was so aesthetically pleasing to me. It is intricate and geometric, but still simply beautiful.
Sorry the photos are so large, but the details are remarkable.