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  2.11 Icosahedron  

Icosahedron box, each side with a mathematical value, and containing two manuscript notes, one a diagram of the 20 sides

Probably Indian; Eighteenth century


5.5 x 5.8 x 4.7 cm

Unknown Indian Artist

he accompanying manuscript note records that the box was found in Tipu's treasury after the fall of Seringapatam. It was given by one of the Commissioners of Prize, General Robert Bell of the Madras Artillery, to his friend, Sir Charles Hopkinson, and eventually passed to a great grandson of General Bell. Each of the twenty sides of the box is inscribed with Arabic numerals.

Munshi Qasim, in his account of Tipu's court, recorded that Tipu daily consulted his astrologers about the state of the stars, and every Saturday unfailingly, he made an offering to the seven stars of different kinds of grain, of an iron pan full of sesame oil, a blue cap and coat, one black sheep and some money. On a finger of his right hand he wore a diamond ring or one set with a ruby, or emerald, varying every day in colour according to the course of the seven stars.The name of Tipu's Astrologer is given as En Enkut Rumna.

A considerable amount of research has been devoted to the interpretation of the 20 numbers on this box, which at first appear to be unrelated. However, they have all been shown to demonstrate accurate values of Pi and Pi squared, and Phi and Phi squared, as well as the roots of 2,3, and 5. It is possible that other mathematical relationships are concealed within these numbers. We do not know when or why the box was made, nor for whom. It may have been intended to hold silk threads for measuring, or counters for a game. To learn more about the mathematical and magical/spiritual configurations of the icosahedron, please contact:

Paul Bien:
Sebastian Thewes:

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