A Familiar Better
Notes & things of inspirationary goodness
A Familiar Better
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Harun al-Rashid was the fifth Arab Abbasid Caliph that encompassed modern Iraq. His birth date remains a point of discussion, though, as various sources give the dates from 763 to 766.
He ruled from 786 to 809, and his time was marked by scientific, cultural and religious prosperity. Art and music also flourished significantly during his reign. He established the legendary library Bayt al-Hikma(“House of Wisdom”).[1]
Since Harun was intellectually, politically and militarily resourceful, his life and the court over which he held sway have been the subject of many tales: some are claimed to be factual but most are believed to be fictitious. An example of what is claimed to be known to be factual, but is not, is the story of the clock that was among various presents that Harun had sent to Charlemagne. The presents were carried by the returning Frankish mission that came to offer Harun friendship in 799. Charlemagne and his retinue deemed the clock to be a conjuration for the sounds it emanated and the tricks it displayed every time an hour ticked.[2] Among what is known to be fictional is The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, which contains many stories that are fantasized by Harun’s magnificent court and even Harun al-Rashid himself.[3]
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Miraj of the Prophet by Sultan Muhammad, showing Chinese-influenced clouds and angels, 1539-43.[32]
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Interior de la Catedral de Santa María, Toledo
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A 1766 Benjamin Martin Orrery, used at Harvard
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Petra, Jordan - "a rose-red city half as old as time"
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Not sure what was going on here
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A Philosopher Giving that Lecture on the Orrery, in which a Lamp is put in place of the Sun
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Emerald Tablet - just don’t make any typos while you’re carving that out.