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The Constellation Auriga
Folio 48v–49r from a Kitab Suwar al-Kawakib al-Thabita (Images of the Fixed Stars)
  • Accession Number:AKM266
  • Creator:‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi (d. 986)
  • Place:Isfahan, Iran
  • Dimensions:Folio: 31.4 x 18.3 cm
  • Date:1640s–1650s
  • Materials and Technique:Ink, opaque watercolour, and gold on paper

Although ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi’s Images of the Fixed Stars was originally designed to depict accurate longitudes for the constellations for the year 964, it continued to be copied for centuries after that. Considering that the main focus of the treatise is the astronomical description and depiction of constellations, the representations in this manuscript, including that of Auriga (the charioteer) seen here, faithfully follow the painting style of seventeenth-century Iran. The thick, connected eyebrows of Auriga, the round cheeks, small red mouth, and feathery hair, as well as the magnificent attention to the folds of the figure’s turban and knotted sash, are typical of the elegant courtiers depicted by a school of painters that painted in the style of Iranian artist Reza-e ‘Abbasi (died 1635).

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