Astrolabe, made of brass, inlaid with silver, and engraved; with seven latitude plates. The rete is marked with pointers to sixty-three important stars and the mater is inscribed with a gazetteer of 103 cities throughout the Islamic world, including Jerusalem, Damascus, Baghdad, Kabul and Delhi. Inscribed.

Object type:


Museum number:



Safavid dynasty


1712 (Sha'ban 1124 (Sep-Oct 1712))

Production place:

Made in: Iran


copper alloy, silver


engraved, inlaid


Height: 58.20 cm Width: 14.00 cm Depth: 3.40 cm


Inscription details: inscription in Arabic script Inscription quoted: هو بموجب فرمان قضا جريان سلطان سلاطين زمان سيّد خواقين دوران پشت و پناه اهل ايمان ولينعمت عالم و عالميان مدار سپهر دولت ﻭﻋﺩﺍﻟﺔ قطب فلك اعظم عظمة و جلالت اختر درخشان اوج كيتي ستاني مهر تابان وسط السّماء جهانباني شاه سلطان حسين صفوي موسوي حسيني مدّ اللّه تعالي ظلّ معدلته علي روس الانام مدي الليالي و الايام اين اسطرلاب تامّ صورت انجام يافت في شهر شعبان ١١٢٤ Inscription note: A calligraphic inscription at the top of the astrolabe praises the royal patron, Sultan Husayn.



Associated names:

Named in inscription: Shah Sultan Husayn

Acquisition names:

Bequeathed by: Sir Hans Sloane

Acquisition date:


Curator's comments:

The massive size and weight of this instrument show that it was more for conspicuous ostentation than use. For further information see: K. Sloan (ed.), Enlightenment. Discovering the World in the Eighteenth Century (London, The British Museum Press, 2003), Ch. 14 W.H. Morley, Description of a planispheric astrolabe constructed for Shah Sultan Husain Safawi, king of Persia, and now preserved in the British Museum (London, Williams and Norgate, 1856.)


Mecca section;Astrolabe This exceptionally large instrument was made for the last Iranian Safavid ruler, Shah Sultan Husayn (r. 1694–1722). The leafy design of the star pointers may refer to the gardens of paradise, linking the skies to heaven itself. Bequeathed to the British Museum by Sir Hans Sloane as part of its founding collection, this was one of the first Islamic objects in the Museum. Iran, Sha’ban 1124 AH (September–October AD 1712) Bequeathed by Sir Hans Sloane, OA+.369