Nuzhat al-mushtāq fī ikhtirāq al-āfāq (Entertainment for he who Longs to Travel the World)

The Arab geographer al-Idrīsī, when compiling his geographical compendium Entertainment for he who Longs to Travel the World for Roger II of Sicily in 1154, organized seventy regional maps according to Ptolemy’s seven climes, dividing each clime into ten sections. Some manuscripts of the Entertainment include the circular world map shown here. Oriented, as customary with Islamic maps, with south at the top, it shows Africa extending eastwards so that it covers virtually all of the Southern Hemisphere. A series of red concentric circles marks the seven climes. The eastward curve of Africa, and the source of the Nile in East Africa, are Ptolemaic; but Africa no longer joins up with India, making the Indian Ocean an open sea rather than a gigantic lake, suggesting additional knowledge derived from more recent scholarship.

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In the hand of ʿAlī ibn Hasan al-Hūnī al-Qāʾimī (?)

Seventy maps (one folding, currently detached)

In Arabic; 325 leaves, 300 x 218 mm

Contemporary Ottoman blind-stamped corner and centrepiece binding: brown goatskin with replacement fore edge flap for the Bodleian, nineteenth century