The Book of Felicity

The Book of Felicity f. 20v, The Image of Libra


f. 20v, The Image of Libra

Libra is represented by a large golden scale. The chains from which the two bowls hang on each side are grasped by a female figure, recognizable by her high hairstyle similar to that of the planet Venus in the illustration of Taurus (f. 10v). Venus is indeed the planetary lord of Libra and her common iconography shows her playing a musical instrument, which is omitted here because both of her hands are occupied. The planet is floating mid-air sitting cross-legged and wearing a fancy, embroidered tunic featuring ribbons tied around its short sleeves, an open, cleaved collar and a very long, scarf-like belt. The central section of the horizontal arm of the scale is in the shape of a pointed arch, a detail probably prompted by the high hairstyle of the female figure, suggesting that the scale was drawn after the planet.
The three decades of Libra are presided by the Moon; Saturn as a dark-skinned, seated man holding a shovel and wearing a pointed hat and white beard eerily reminiscent of some Santa Claus images; and Jupiter as a seated man with no special attributes and probably representing a qadi or judge.

Stefano Carboni
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Curatorial Assistant in Islamic Art
 (Fragment of the Book of Felicity commentary volume)

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