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Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....


Islamic School, 12th century, male.

Active in Herat.


Masud ibn Ahmad was responsible for the design and creation of the famous bronze Bobrinski Bucket (named after the Russian collector who acquired it in 1885), on which he collaborated with the inlayer Muhammad ibn al-Wahid. Dated to ...


[Abū Zayd ibn Muḥammad ibn Abī Zayd]

(fl Kashan, 1186–1219).

Persian potter. At least 15 tiles and vessels signed by Abu Zayd are known, more signed works than are known for any other medieval Iranian potter (see fig.). He frequently added the phrase ‘in his own hand’ (bi-khāṭṭihi) after his name, so that it has been misread as Abu Zayd-i Bazi or Abu Rufaza. His earliest piece is an enamelled (Pers. mīnā’ī) bowl dated 4 Muharram 583 (26 March 1186; New York, Met.), but he is best known for his lustrewares. A fragment of a vase dated 1191 (ex-Bahrami priv. col., see Watson, pl. 53) is in the Miniature style, but most of his later pieces, such as a bowl dated 1202 (Tehran, priv. col., see Bahrami, pl. 16a) and a dish dated 1219 (The Hague, Gemeentemus.), are in the Kashan style, which he is credited with developing (see Islamic art, §V, 3(iii)...