This article examines a particular Ottoman treatise on talismans, written likely in the first half of the sixteenth century against the backdrop of the royal attempts to ward off the bubonic plague. Unlike other well-known examples of the celestial magic lore that enumerate detailed prescriptions and occult methods, this short text rather employs a theoretical approach and discusses at great length the astrological foundations and astronomical requirements of talisman making. The text has intriguingly been attributed to Ibn Kemāl, one of the most prolific and prominent traditional scholars of the time. While more evidence is needed to ascertain its authorship by him, both internal evidence from the text and circumstantial evidence from his other writings as well as the works of his intellectual peers vindicate such ascription. Regardless of the question on the authenticity of its authorship, this short text provides valuable insights into the entangled stories of exact scientific pursuits, magical practice, and royal patronage in the sixteenth-century Ottoman courtly context.


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pp. 66-88
Launched on MUSE
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