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    Re: History of the Kamal
    From: Wolfgang Köberer
    Date: 2016 Mar 10, 12:33 -0800

    The oldest mention of an instrument consisting of a wooden board with a string can be found in the writings of Sidi Ali, al-Mahri and Ibn Majid which may have been written a few decades before Vasco da Gama reached the Indian Ocean. It is noted, however, that this was not called a “Kamal” but rather a “tablet”.

    There are a few publications which deal with this type of instrument:

    Fatimi, S.Q., History of the Development of the Kamal , in: Ray, Himanshu Prabha, and Jean-Francois Salles (Eds.), Tradition and archaeology: early maritime contacts in the Indian Ocean: proceedings of the international seminar, techno-archaeological perspectives of ... A.D., New Delhi, February 28-March 4, 1994, New Delhi 1996, 283 - 292.

    Garcia Franco, Salvador, El Kamal, in: Revista General de Marina, Vol. 155 (1958), 287 - 289.

    Pereira, José Manuel Malhão, The stellar compass and the Kamal. An interpretation of its practical use, Lisboa 2003.

    Schück, Albert, Ein altes indisches und arabisches Instrument zum Bestimmen der Polhöhe gewisser Orte, in: Das Ausland, Jg. 65 (1892), 814.

    Silva, Luciano Pereira da, Kamal, Tábuas da Índia e Tavoletas náuticas, in: Silva, Luciano Pereira da, Obras Completas, Vol. III, Lisboa 1946, 29 – 41.

    Taylor, E.G.R., A note on the Kamal, in: Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Vol. 17 (1964), 459 - 460.

    Apart from that many works on Arab navigation discuss the instrument to some extent; these are just a few:

    Albuquerque, Luís de, Quelques commentaires sur la navigation orientale a l` époque de Vasco da Gama, in: Albuquerque, Luís de, Estudos de História, Vol. II,  Coimbra 1977, 201 -219.

    Facey, William and Anthony R. Constable (Eds.), The Principles of Arab Navigation, London 2013.

    Ferrand, Gabriel, Instructions nautiques et routiers arabes et portugais des XVe et XVIe siècles. Tome III: Introduction à l'astronomie nautique arabe, Paris 1928 (Reprint Frankfurt 1986). It reprints earlier studies by Congreve and Prinsep.

    Grosset-Grange, Henri, La navigation arabe de jadis: Nouveaux aperçus sur les méthodes pratiquées en Océan Indien , in: Navigation (Paris), Vol. 17 (1969), 227 - 237, 437 - 448, Vol. 20 (1972), 333 - 337.

    Mota, Avelino Teixeira da, Méthodes de navigation et cartographie nautique dans l'océan indien avant le XVIe siècle, in: Studia, No. 11 (1963), 49 - 91.

    Tibbetts, G.R., Arab Navigation in the Indian Ocean before the Coming of the Portuguese, London 1971 (Reprint 1981).

    Sezgin, Fuat, Mathematische Geographie und Kartographie im Islam und ihr Fortleben im Abendland: historische Darstellung. - Teil 2, Frankfurt am Main 2000.

    As Arab astronomical navigation was mainly useful in the Indian Ocean crossing to India there must have been an exchange between Arab and Indian sailors about the methods in use. This is dealt with in a treatise of Indian Sea Navigation:

    Arunachalam, B., Heritage Of Indian Sea Navigation, Mumbai 2002.

    Have fun


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