I must admit: As I started reading the title I got a bit nervous.
extrapolating a bit before finishing reading the whole thing.
Imagine my sigh of relief when I realized the word was Astrolabe.
Not gold but brass. with a loop above for a bail to show one and all
irrefutable proof that this one is indeed jewelry. This for the
doubters who pretty subtly mentioned to me in side whispers that
last week's chess set was not jewelry. Hmmph. Can you believe it?
But back to this portable model of the heavens. With this instrument
in one's hands one can tell time, indulge in some surveying, and
even work out one's position in the world by sun or stars. and...
with a bit more cast your horoscope. Imagine that there
are folks out there misguidedly still clamoring for the latest cell
phone when they might be able to get an Astrolabe. What's more
important I ask you. playing tic tac toe on your cell phone. or
knowing where you're situated in the universe. Equal, you say? Bah!
The astrolabe was important to the Islamic world as it facilitated
the faithful to find the direction of Mecca wherever they were. In
fact. the oldest astrolabe still in existence in an Islamic one from
the tenth century. However. the one you are about to see is a Jewish
one made a bit over 650 years ago in Spain. Circa A. D. 1345-1355.
It contains Hebrew lettering and Arabic and Spanish words and
combines both Islamic and European decorative elements. All that in
one piece of jewelry. Can you imagine? What happened to good old
strife and intolerance and we're never going to live side by side in
peaceful harmony. never mind mixing our symbols together on an
This piece--contrary to modern day obvious truths--speaks loudly
about a great intellectual unity when the three
religions--Christianity and Judaism and Islam--coexisted peacefully.
United they made medieval Spain the intellectual forerunner of
Europe. Ah. but things change. Is the advancement of civilization
not a most wondrous thing?
The astrolabe was then on the leading cusp of technological
discoveries. This was the must-have toy of its day. the yearning of
it acquisition deeply ensconced in every young boy's heart.
Chaucer--in fact--wrote his son Lewis a letter explaining in
un-minced words the difficulty the lad would encounter were he to
try to use and understand so complex an instrument. Presumably
Lewis--much like the youth of today--left his father floundering in
the dust unable to understand his son's quick grasp of the astrolabe
while he could only begin to comprehend its intricacies. That
scenario--at least--has not changed to this very day. Yesterday's
astrolabe is today's Accelerator Mass Spectrometer. Child's play.
Though the astrolabe looks a tad like a stopwatch. it was clearly
made by a most learned world traveler. At the time of its creation
Spain was the only place in Europe where the three religions lived
harmoniously side-by-side. Some of the symbols on it are described
in three languages though often using Hebrew lettering.
There's more. There's much much more. But it's all too much for this
So... in the meantime... you know the rest. The visit to the
image... also known as the viewing experience. You know where. Home
. Scroll down. Left side. Tidbits.
Click. And there for your sensory optic pleasure you will see an
image of Hebrew Astrolabe in all its magnificence.
And there ya have it. That's it for this week folks. Catch you all