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A page from the NUJUM AL-ULUM. Bijapur, 1570. The Chester Beatty Library, Dublin
A page from the NUJUM AL-ULUM


The Nujum al-Ulum or 'Stars of the Sciences' is an encyclopedia of subjects chosen with the catholicity of a Sir Thomas Browne. In an enumeration of the one hundred and forty aspects of the earth, the spiritual forms of the guardians of each are represented. This is one. The book is dated 1570 (A.H. 978) in three places. A note, on page one, by a former owner states that the book was once the property of Ibrahim II of Bijapur. Even if the value of this note, the date of which is uncertain, is questioned, there can be no doubt of the southern influence on the style. This is apparent not only in the female type and costume but also in much decorative detail. A frieze of lions and swans on a full-page illustration, for example, is in pure southern taste. Several miniatures represent Hindu deities. On present evidence the provenance of the Nujum al-Ulum may be accepted as the southern Deccan, probably Bijapur, though Golconda is also a fair candidate since we know there were artists at the court of Ibrahim Qutb Shah (1550-80).