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The Book Of Curiosities: A Medieval Islamic View Of The East

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Chapter Summary

In June 2002, the Department of Oriental Collections of the Bodleian Library in Oxford acquired an Arabic manuscript of considerable importance to the history of medieval cartography. The book, loosely translated as ?The Book of Curiosities of the Sciences and Marvels for the Eyes?, contains a remarkable series of early maps and astronomical diagrams. Much of the Book of Curiosities is devoted to itineraries, and this chapter follows in the author?s imaginary footsteps by tracing his conception and knowledge of the routes to China. It first presents the representation of the Silk Road across Central Asia. The chapter then considers the overland route along the Indus and the Ganges. Next, it focuses on the Book of Curiosities? conception of the maritime route to China along the coasts of the Indian Ocean. The interrelationship between the different visual representations of Central and East Asia is assessed in the conclusion.

Keywords: astronomical diagrams; Book of Curiosities; Central Asia; China; early maps; East Asia; Ganges; Indus; Silk Road

10.1163/ej.9789004171657.i-248.62
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