Divination manuscript copied and previously owned by an Ottoman chief astrologer

'Abd Allah ibn Abi al-Ma'ali al-Mahfuf al-Munajjim. Kashf al-asrar wa Kifayat al-Akhyar fi ilm al-Tanjim wa Ma'rifat Manazil al-Shams wal-Qamar [Revealing the Secrets and Sufficient for the Good on the Science of Astrology and the Stages of the Sun and the Moon].

Uzbekistan, ca. 1880 CE.

8vo (135 x 187 mm). 51 ff. Arabic manuscript on paper. Black naskh script ruled in red, with important words and phrases picked out in red. Contemporary leather and marbled paper.


A previously unknown and unrecorded divination manual by 'Abd ibn Abi al-Munajjim (d. ca. 1397 CE), an author remembered for his work on geomancy. The manuscript describes the divinatory implications of various astrological events. Little is known about the author, and this manuscript is the only extant copy of this particular text. The identity of a former copyist, however, suggests that this was once a well-respected piece of astrological literature: according to the colophon, this manuscript was copied from one penned in AH 1140 (1727/28 CE) by Abd al-Qadir bin Mahmud, whose title, "Munejjim-bashi", identifies him as one of the chief astrologers of the Ottoman Empire, a powerful and respected post.

The work itself provides a tidily organized handbook of divination, with chapters dedicated to the sighting of atmospheric phenomena like lightning and thunder, or of astronomical observations, such as solar and lunar eclipses. Each chapter goes on to predict the effect of each of these events during each month: lightning in January has a different meaning than in February, and so on. Similarly, a chapter on winds discusses what different winds during different months might mean for the future. Other chapters make predictions based on the day on which a given month begins: for example, if Muharram starts on Monday, then the astrologer's predicted outcome is different than if Muharram starts on Tuesday.

A useful compendium of astrological divination, straightforwardly arranged as a simple and easy-to-use reference tool for the astrologer tasked with interpretations.