ABU’L-ʿANBAS AL-ṢAYMARĪ, MOḤAMMAD B. ESḤĀQ B. ABI’L-ʿANBAS B. AL-MAḠĪRA B. MĀHĀN, astrologer and author, born at Kūfa, 213/828; died 275/889. That he was an Iranian is indicated by his knowledge of the Sasanian astrologers Zaradūšt and Bozorǰmehr as well as by his great-great-grandfather’s name. He served as qāżī of Ṣaymara, the chief town of Mehrǰānqaḏaq district in Jebāl. His fame among his contemporaries rested upon his ability as a poet and author of scurrilously humorous pieces (many are catalogued in Fehrest, pp. 151-52), but he was also an erudite astrologer. As such he associated with Abū Bakr Ḥasan b. al-Ḵaṣīb in 230/844-45. He seems to have spent much of his time at the caliphal court from Motawakkel’s reign (847-61) to Moʿtamed’s (870-92); Masʿūdī tells an anecdote about his encounter with Boḥtorī in Motawakkel’s presence at Sāmarrāʾ (Morūǰ VII, pp. 202-06), and other stories are recorded by, e.g., Yāqūt (Odabāʾ VI, pp. 401-06).

Ebn al-Nadīm’s first notice lists the following works of Abu’l-ʿAnbas, which are repeated by Yāqūt (Fehrest, pp. 151-52l; Odabāʾ VI, pp. 402-03): 1. Ketāb al-radd ʿala’l-monaǰǰemīn (“Book of the refutation of astrologers”), lost. 2. Ketāb aḥkām al-noǰūm (“Book of judgements of the stars”), lost. 3. Ketāb al-madḵal elā ṣanāʿat al-tanǰīm (“Book of the introduction to the art of astrology”), perhaps identical with no. 5. Ebn al-Nadīm’s second notice is followed by Ebn al-Qefṭī (Fehrest, p. 278; Taʾrīḵ al-ḥokamāʾ, ed. J. Lippert, Leipzig, 1903, p. 410). 4. Ketāb al-mawālīd (“Book of nativities”), lost. 5. Ketāb al-madḵal elā ʿelm al-noǰūm (“Book of the introduction to the science of the stars”). This is probably identical with the extant Ketāb aṣl al-oṣūl fī ḵawāṣṣ al-noǰūm wa aḥkāmehā wa aḥkām al-mawālīd (“Book of the foundation of foundations on the characteristics of the stars, their judgments, and the judgments of nativities”). The latter work, sometimes claimed for Abū Maʿšar (Fehrest, p. 277; Ḥokamāʾ, p. 154) is historically quite important; its second section consists of a compendium on catarchic astrology and interrogations derived from numerous (and mostly lost) sources. Two other works are preserved in manuscript: 6. Ketāb fi’l-ḥesāb al-noǰūmī (“Book on stellar computation”). 7. al-Zīǰ (“Astronomical tables”). For the manuscripts, see Sezgin, GAS V, p. 262.


See also M. Ullmann, Die Natur- und Geheimwissenschaften im Islam, Leiden, 1972, pp. 325-26.

Sezgin, GAS VII, pp. 152-53.

(D. Pingree)

Originally Published: December 15, 1983

Last Updated: July 21, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 3, p. 259

Cite this entry:

David Pingree, “ABU’L-ʿANBAS ṢAYMARĪ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/3, p. 259; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abul-anbas-al-saymari-mohammad-b (accessed on 31 January 2014).