One does not encounter short astronomical-astrological poems in Persian very frequently. One such poem, by the Persian-Indian poet Ṯanāʾī (d. 1587/8) is inscribed on the Indian world map in the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin. This map probably originated in the sphere of the court of the ruler of Rajastan, Sawai Jai Singh II. (1700‒1743). The poem does not bear a relationship to the other inscriptions and paintings found on the map, and is known only from this map. It presupposes a significant degree of knowledge of astronomy and astrology on the reader’s part, especially since Ṯanāʾī had developed a style in India by means of which he was able to “pack longwinded ideas and multiple meanings into a succinct expression”. The poem reflects a world view that is based on the cosmology of Aristotle and the planetary theories of Ptolemy. In particular, it addresses the heavenly spheres, with the earth at their center, the system of astronomical coordinates, the course and the characteristics of the planets, including Sun and Moon, and a short characterization of the four elements and the twelve signs of the zodiac. This article provides a philological reading, translation, and line-by-line commentary of the poem.
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