Slide #221

TITLE: World Map of Ibn Sa'id
DATE: 1570
AUTHOR: 'Ali ibn Musa ibn Sa'id al-Maghribi

DESCRIPTION: A variety of an Islamic world map with an open Indian Ocean is represented by a map found in a manuscript in the Bodleian Library, titled Kitab al-bad' wa-al-ta'rikh [Book of beginning and history)1569-70. Although the date of the map is very late, its derivation from Ibn Hawqal III is noticeable (Slide #213). However, one would expect a missing link somewhere between the two that may or may not have had the open Indian Ocean. The work it accompanies is anonymous but was originally attributed to Ibn Sa'id. Most of the maps attributed to Ibn Sa'ld by Konrad Miller and others who follow Miller (e.g., Leo Bagrow) are really from the later version of Ibn Hawqal (Ibn Hawqal III) mentioned earlier. Manuscripts of Ibn Sa'ld's work have no maps. Kropp has shown that there is no connection with the work of Ibn Sa'id, and all we can really say is that it was produced in North Africa and in its present form dates from approximately the latter half of the 16th century, the period of the manuscript in which it is found. This manuscript and the map are discussed in an article by Manfred Kropp, who attributed the work to al-Shawi al-Fasi, the writer of the manuscript; a legend on the map states that the map is compiled according to an account taken by al-Kindi and al-Sarakhsi from the book of Ptolemy. This is a dubious statement, since these two authors were not geographers and are not mentioned in connection with maps until centuries after their deaths. But the origin of the map must be back in the 12th or 13th century, and it is influenced by Ibn Hawqal III and by al-BIruni's sketch of land and water distribution (Slide #214.3). Thus the southern half of the world circle consists mainly of water. The Northern Hemisphere is very similar to that of the circular world map of al-ldrlsi (Slide #219), and the pattern of arcs of circles for climatic boundaries is another feature derived from that author. The south coast of Asia resembles more than anything else the same area from the Ibn Hawqal III world map, whereas Africa shows the two peninsulas mentioned earlier, with no landmass to the south and east-only an open ocean. This is what will be found in future Islamic world maps. This map is from the Islamic west in the al-ldrisi tradition, but the same features will be seen in the map of Hamd Allah Mustawfi in the east and in a later map of Indian origin. It is reasonably detailed and from this point of view excels the map of Hamd Allah Mustawfi, but it cannot compare in detail of topographical content with the sectional maps of al-ldrlsl or the world map of his successor al-Sifaqsl. Nevertheless, it shows considerable development in geo-graphical content and as such is extremely interesting.

Maps resembling this one survived until comparatively recent times, and degenerate copies appear from time to time, especially in the Indian subcontinent. An interesting and detailed map that must derive ultimately from this source exists in the Museum furIslamische Kunst in Berlin and probably comes from the 18th century (Slide #226.2). It is basically an Arab map in Arabic, though some Persian forms appear and place-names in India are given in both Arabic and Hindi scripts. However, the whole map is nothing but a very decadent and late version whose ancestry goes back through some map similar to the Bodleian map to a version of Ibn Hawqal III, but without an African landmass spreading throughout the Southern Hemisphere.

The semicircular world map from the work of Sadiq Isfahani (Slide #204) shows a similar derivation, as do several other maps of Indian origin that have been published. The later they are, the more decadent they appear. The map (albeit in a European copy) Bagrow illustrates as a Persian map may not appear to be related either to the world map of Ibn Hawqal III or to that of al-ldnsl. It is nevertheless their ultimate descendant through a long series of maps in the Indian sub-continent.

LOCATION: Bodleian Library, MS. Laud. Or. 317, fols. 10v-11r, Oxford


*Harley, J.B., The History of Cartography, Volume Two, pp. 145-46, 170, Plate 10 (color).
*Kropp, M., " 'Kitab al-bad' wa-t-ta'rih' von Abu l-Hasan 'All ibn Ahmad ibn 'Ali ibn Ahmad As-Sawiial-Fasl und sein Verhältnis zu dem 'Kitab al-Ca'rafiyya' von az-Zuhri,'" in Proceedings of the Ninth Congress of the Union Europeenne des Arabisants et Islamisants, Amsterdam, 1st to 7th September, 1978, ed. Rudolph Peters (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1981),153-68.


Index of Early Medieval Maps