Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al-Farisi al-Istakhri

  February 13, 2024   Read time 1 min
Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al-Farisi al-Istakhri
Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al-Farisi al-Istakhri(also Estakhri, i.e. from the Iranian city of Istakhr, b. - d. 346 AH/AD 957)[2] was a 10th-century travel author and Islamic geographer who wrote valuable accounts in Arabic of the many Muslim territories he visited during the Abbasid

There is no consensus regarding his origin. Some sources describe him as Persian, while others state he was Arab. The Encyclopedia Iranica states: "Biographical data are very meager. From his nesbas (attributive names) he appears to have been a native of Eṣṭaḵr in Fārs, but it is not known whether he was Persian".

Istakhri's account of windmills is the earliest known. Istakhri met the celebrated traveller-geographer Ibn Hawqal, while travelling, and Ibn Hawqal incorporated the work of Istakhri in his book Kitab al-Surat al-Ard.

Istakhri's two surviving works are:

  • Masālik al-Mamālik (Routes of the Realms), or Kitab al-masalik wa-l-mamalik (Book of Roads and Kingdoms), a contribution to the "Book of Roads and Kingdoms" tradition. This combines maps with descriptive text to describe the geography of Iran and surrounding kingdoms. It is based mainly on lists of stations of postal routes, and seems intended to help commit those lists to memory rather than to guide travellers through the territory. There is no consistency between the map projections. An illuminated manuscript dated AH 706 (AD 1306-07) now resides in the Khalili Collection of Islamic Art. It contains many maps, though some mentioned in the text are missing.
  • Ṣuwar al-ʿAqālīm ( صور الاقاليم, Pictures of the Regions).

An 8-volume edition of works by medieval Arab geographers, edited by the Dutch orientalist Michael Jan de Goeje in a series titled Bibliotheca geographorum Arabicorum was published by Brill, Lugduni-Batavora (Leiden) in the 1870s. An edition of Istakhri's MS text was produced for the first volume under the Latin title Viae Regnorum descriptio ditionis Moslemicae - "Description of Roads of the Kingdoms in Muslim territories". In 1927, the editor Theodore Noldeke produced a second edition.

In 1845, the German orientalist A. D. Mordtmann published a translation in Hamburg with the title Das Buch der Länder von Schech Ebu Ishak el Farsi el Isztachri, with a foreword by C. Ritter. (Schriften der Akademie von Ham Bd. 1, Abth. 2).

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