Saturday, 29 August 2009

The Elephant Clock of Al Jazari

A Most Ingenious Mechanical Device

One of the centre pieces of the India Court at the Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai is the Elephant Clock, based on a medieval invention by Al Jazari, celebrated craftsman, mathematician and astronomer.

Al Jazari, born in 1136, upper Mesopotamia served as a engineer to the court of the Turkish Artudid dynasty that ruled Eastern Anatolia and the areas that are now northern Syria and Iraq. The elephant clock, featured in Al Jazari's manuscripts, The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices, is an early humanoid robot featuring a mechanical mahout who strikes a cymbal every half hour.

The Book of Knowledge

The elephant clock above photographed by me at the Ibn Battuta Mall is a stunning reproduction of the original and is featured below in illustrative form in the book of knowledge.


  1. I saw your avatar as a visitor on my blog and was curious. One of my best friends is from Afghanistan and we had a gallery together in Chicago for four years. We opened a few months before 9/11. Great timing, eh? It didn't work, but I love all of the crafts that come out of that region and understand some of the culture from being around Abdul, his family and friends. His website is I will enjoy visiting your blog from time to time!

    All the best, Rayela (that's my name in Pashto...)

  2. ... And a beautiful name too ...

    I like tradtional craft, so you and I share an interest.

    You're more than welcome to stop by this blog. I enjoy having visitors.

    Take care Rayela ... da khudai pa amaan.


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