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The constellation of Andromeda Abd ur-Rakhman as-Sufi. The book of still stars, The National Library, Paris. The Arabe MS 5036 C. 1437. Samarkand
THE CONSTELLATION OF ANDROMEDA Abrl ur-Rakhmaii as-Sufi. Tho book ol still stars


During the reign of Ulugh Bek (1409-1449) Samarkand was world centre of astronomy. Ulugh Bek built the large observatory to research stars and planets. Distinguished astronomers and mathematicians worked there; famous astronomic work Zij-i-Sultani was written here. Probably, the astronomic treatise by as- Sufi (X century) was illustrated in kitab-khane of the observatory. This work was copied many times later on. The very old list of miniatures (Bodleian Library in Oxford) date from 1009-10. The paintings represent each constellation where large and small stars are written in the form of red and black circles plus their names in Arabic. These circles form a human being or a real or imaginary animal, depending on the name it bears. For example, Herdsman is a man with a goad in his hand; Archer is a man with a bow; Virgin is a nice girl, etc. It should be mention that all of them and all Greek heroes such as Hercules, Cassiopeia, Perseus, Andromeda are with Oriental faces and clothes. There are several illustrations from as-Sufi dated from XII century written in the same way, but the images are changed a little bit according to the art requirements of other epoch.
The illustrations to The book of still stars are done by a very thin pen - a kaliam with light colouring. For example, constellation Andromeda: in miniature paintings of XI-XII centuries you see her as a young woman in a smart dress, with rich jewelry and luxurious headwear; but in the Samarkand version of 1437 Andromeda is a young peasant girl in the plain dress. It is folk theme that is used in the images of some constellations and this witnesses about new tendency in miniature painting of Central Asia in the first part of XV century.