The Archaic and the Exotic: Studies in the History of Indian Astronomical Instruments

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Manohar, Jan 1, 2008 - Astrolabes - 319 pages
The Fifteen papers collected in this volume are related to the author's investigations into the history of astronomical instruments in India. This history, so far untouched by others, is dominated by two currents: on the one hand the resilience of certain archaic instruments that held sway for long, on the other the receptivity of Indian astronomers towards exotic instruments from other cultures. Hence the title: The Archaic and the Exotic. The first part of the volume seeks to define the context in which the author's studies on Indian instruments are undertaken and emphasises the need for a combined study of Sanskrit astronomical texts and the extant instruments, besides pictorial depictions of instruments, notably in Mughal miniature paintings. The four papers in part II are devoted to an 'archaic' instrument, namely the sinking bowl variety of water clock, its history, its technical specifications and a ritual connected to its installation. The astrolabe and the celestial globe are the exotic instruments received enthusiastically in India from the Islamic World. The five papers in part III deal with the history of the astrolabe in India: its promotion by Firuz Shah Tughluq, the dominant role played in its production by a family of instrument makers from Lahore under the patronage of the Mughal rulers, Sanskrit manuals composed on it, and certain individual specimens of the Indo-Persian and Sanskrit astrolabes. The last two papers, comprising part IV, deal with the history of the celestial globe in India and the globes crafted by two seventeenth-century instrument makers.

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List of Illustrations
Perpetual Motion Machines and their Design
Astronomical Instruments in Mughal Miniatures

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