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Stamp

Issue

PERSONAJES Al Idrîsî (Geógrafo)

  • Issue date: 15/06/2006
  • Printing Process: Huecograbado
  • Paper: Estucado, engomado, fosforescente
  • Size of stamp: 28,8 x 40,9 mm. (vertical)
  • Postal value of the stamps: 0,78 €
  • Print run: 1.000.000
  • Dented: 13 3/4

Abu Abdallah Mohamed Ben Idrisi, best known as Al Idrisi, is the main character of this year’s Celebrities issue.

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Al idrisi was an eminent geographer and cartographer of the Middle Ages supposedly born in Ceuta around the year 1100. His scientific education took place in Cordoba, and he travelled around Spain, Northern Africa, Asia Minor, Egypt and Syria of which he made detailed geographic descriptions building himself a reputation in the field. His good name reached the court of Roger II, king of Sicily, who commissioned him to geographically describe the world known at the time. To do the job, emissaries where sent to all countries accompanied by draftsmen describing the milestones of the route. Al Idrisi collected all the written information of the Arab geographers, checked it with experienced travellers and rejected contradictory data. The whole process lasted 15 years and the writing of the final report another 3. The result was the famous Book of Roger, a master piece which, though incomplete, is a source of information essential for studying the geography of the Middle Ages. The Book of Roger has 69 maps, corresponding to the seven climates (latitudes) in which Al Idrisi divided the world according to the Islamic astronomers, ten sections, one world map and one text describing each map. These texts describe the nature, paths, distances, agriculture and commerce of each map. The whole work is a fine example of reconciliation between descriptive and astronomical geography. Ten manuscript copies prior to the XVII century are kept, the oldest one at the Bibliothêque Nationale in Paris, France. An interesting detail is the fact that the maps appear upside down, that is the North at the bottom and the South on top. Al Idrisi, also a doctor, pharmacologist and connoisseur of Latin and Greek, published various books of verse and a collection on botanic with the description of more than 360 drugs alphabetically ordered. Because of having worked for the Christian king he was badly looked upon by his colleagues and Muslim writers who although recognised the value of his work, never published his name as the author. He died in Palermo between 1164 and 1166.

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