The Excursion of the One Who Yearns to Penetrate the Horizons, by al-Idrisi
Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Idrisi (circa 1100-1166) was an Arab geographer and adviser to Norman king Roger II of Sicily. He was born into a family of Andalusian and Maghreb princes and sharif saints, in Sabtah (Ceuta), on the coast of Morocco. Al-Idrisi studied in Cordoba, and traveled extensively in the Mediterranean region, Anatolia, the northwestern coast of the Iberian Peninsula, and possibly southern England.
He is best known for his Nuzhat al-mushtaq fi ikhtiraq al-afaq (The excursion of the one who yearns to penetrate the horizons), one of the greatest works of medieval geography. The work was also known in Arabic as Kitab Rujar (Roger's book), and in Latin as Tabula Rogeriana. Al-Idrisi combined Greek and Arab knowledge with first-hand observations and reports by travelers to produce the work. It took Al-Idrisi 15 years to finish the work, which he completed shortly before Roger's death in 1154.
Presented here is the oldest known copy of Nuzhat al-mushtaq, produced around 1325 and preserved in the National Library of France as MS Arabe 2221. Following the Ptolemaic system, Al-Idrisi divided the Northern Hemisphere into seven climates of equal width, each of which was further divided by lines of longitude into ten equal sections, resulting in a total of 70 sectional maps, which, if put together, form a rectangular map of the known world at the time. The maps are oriented with north at the bottom. The accompanying text describes the socioeconomic, physical, cultural, and political conditions of each region.
Two maps are missing in this copy: that of the first and that of the second section of the seventh climate. The first folios are partially damaged. The last folio, representing the tenth section of the seventh climate, is missing. Other folios within the volume have been put back together but parts are missing. This copy includes a carefully drawn planisphere and 68 maps, all of which are carefully drawn and colored. Of all medieval Arabic maps, these are probably the best in terms of craftsmanship.
Created between AD 1250 and AD 1325
352 folios : maps, illustrations ; 26 x 21 centimeters
al-Idrisi, Muhammad ibn Muhammad. The Excursion of the One Who Yearns to Penetrate the Horizons. [Manuscript]. 1300.
al-Idrisi, Muhammad ibn Muhammad (1300) The Excursion of the One Who Yearns to Penetrate the Horizons. [Manuscript].
al-Idrisi, Muhammad ibn Muhammad, The Excursion of the One Who Yearns to Penetrate the Horizons. [Manuscript]. 1300.