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Map of the "Inhabited Quarter", from the Shahid-i Sadiq by Sadiq Isfahani (oriented with South at the top) During Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan 1627–1658

Shah Jahan 1627–1658
Stacked Wooden Logs


This map, measuring 14.2 X 26 cm, is undoubtedly the most important of the surviving Indo-Islamic world maps. It is one among thirty-three in an atlas of the "Inhabited Quarter" (northern half of the Eastern Hemisphere), which forms part of an encyclopedic work in Persian, the Shahid-i Sadiq [Persian Atlas], completed in 1647 by one Muhammad Sadiq ibn Muhammad Salih of Jaunupur (known as Sadiq Isfahani). The map is done in ink and watercolor on paper. Oriented with South at the top, longitude is measured from the island at the upper right, probably representing the ancient Insulae Fortunatae [Canary Islands]. To the left is Sus al Aqsa, westernmost Africa, and below that are Andalusia and the country of the Franks. Near the Equator the pointed tip of Africa is called the Land of Elephants. Morocco is misplaced across the long adjacent gulf, while Egypt is sited across the shorter pointed gulf and Yemen is farther to the left. Below Yemen are Syria and the region of Jazirah. Near the center of the map is the more triangular shape of the Caspian Sea, with Iran to the right of it, and below it are, right to left, the Kipchak Desert, Bulgar [modern Saratov], Russia, and Turkestan. The names Sind and India appear in the peninsula above and farther left, and in the two-cusped peninsula even farther left are written Chin and Mahachin, both representing China. Below, on the two sides of the long sea appear Katha and the wall of Gog and Magog. The large semicircular shape at the upper left represents the Waqwaq Islands.

According to the researcher Irfan Habib, Sadiq Isfahani"s mapping is traceable to the work of Hafiz-i Abru and thence back to the Ilkhanid geographer Hamd Allah Mustawfi (Hamd Allah ibn Abi Bakr al-Mustawfi Qazvini). Comparing Sadiq Isfahani's work to that of Hamd Allah Mustawfi, Habib observes that the former's world map is less detailed, and, if anything, more erroneous. It does, however, represent India as a peninsula and adds Ceylon at its southern tip, although the latter is diminished by showing another island of similar size in close proximity. Like Hamdullah, the map is oriented with South at the top, the degrees of longitude are shown along the Equator and the latitudes along the rim of the half disc. The seven climes, the Greek divisions along parallels according to the varying lengths of the longest days (a practice of Ptolemaic origin explained by Isfahani), are also marked on the rim. Also like Hamdullah, Sadiq fails to give curvature to his meridians; these do not meet at the North Pole, but run in straight vertical lines and meet the rim at different points. The result is a map in which the combination of these parallels and meridians form equal squares, and towns are placed in many of such squares according to their coordinates, which are listed in the accompanying text, though no point symbol is employed to represent a town. Names of countries are written astride several squares, thereby giving some rough intimation of their extent. Boundary lines are lacking; cartographic signs, however, were employed by Sadiq Isfahani and were explained, in his own words, as follows: "In these pages. . . the straight lines in vermilion represent degrees [of latitude and longitude]; cuts represent the rivers, with the insides filled in with vermilion, and [similarly] the oceans. The black straight lines represent the parallels dividing the 'climes'. The wavy lines symbolize the mountains."

Although Sadiq Isfahani's mapping improves on known earlier works in respect to scale and detail (especially India), the thirty-two sectional maps contain numerous careless errors, some of which could be attributed to a sloppy copyist.

LOCATION: British Library, MS. Egerton 1016, fol. 335r, London.

*Habib, I., "Cartography in Mughal India", Medieval India, a Miscellany 4 (1977); India Archives 28 (1979)
*Harley, J.B., The History of Cartography, Volume Two, pp. 390-92, Figure 17.1.
*Gore, S., Indian Maps and Plans (1989), pp. 29, 82-87.

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Ismail Mazari

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Very good information.

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Shah Sharaf Barlas


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