In Istanbul at the end of the sixteenth century, the savant Al=Hooudi, acting on the
order of Sultan Murad III, prepared a work on astrology of which the subject matter
is sufficiently indicated by the title, The Rising of the Stars of Felicity, and the Sources
of Sovereignty. The same year it was written, 1582, the book was copied for Sultana
Fatima, daughter of the Padishah of Istanbul, Shadow of Allah on the World. The calligraphist and illuminator was a certain Osman, whose historical work, “The Garland of Chronicles”, is still read.
This manuscript contains a magnificent set of the twelve signs of the Zodiac, from which is taken the reproduction of Aquarius, an old man drawing water from a well.
In order to increase the charm of his work, Osman added some pictures inspired by the book, The Wonders of Creation, a sort of scientific encyclopaedia, which had a great vogue in the Orient. From this are taken the curious pictures of monkeys and that of the phoenix, the legendary bird capable of living in fire. After these come various angels and demons. The red angel rides a lion while holding a saber in one hand and a head in the other. Another angel, accompanied by two demons, seizes a Christian by his nether limbs.
After the decline of Murad,s power, the manuscript was removed to Egypt, where the
French Army came across it during the Revolutionary period. On the flyleaf is an annotation by the librarian Langlès attesting that the manuscript was taken at Cairo by General
Bonaparte and that the "Citoyen" Monge presented it in his name to the Bibliothèque
Nationale (today it is Ms. 242 of the Turkish Supplement).
Emil A. VAN MOÉ