Balkan Peninsula, Croatia, Earth, Europe, South East Europe

Croatia – Roger Joseph Boscovich

Roger Joseph Boscovich, 18th century astronomer, physicist and mathematician, is featured on the front of our banknote of Croatia. He developed a method of determination of the orbit of a celestial body based upon just three measurements. he similarly developed a method for determining the rotation of a heavenly body based upon the measurement of the locations of three landmarks. These calculations are illustrated on the front of our banknote.

The sculpture, beloved to Croatians, “History of Croatians” by Ivan Mestrovic, is illustrated on the back of our banknote. She, a woman, as Mother, sits serenely, with a massive tome in her lap, a book identified on its spine as the “History of Croatians”. She is the keep og the Croatin identity, culture and history. A moving tribute is in this blog post here.


Balkan Peninsula, Europe, Serbia, South East Europe

Serbia – Tesla Powers the World

Nikola Tesla, seated, holding his wireless lightbulb.  Yes, indeed, it has no connecting wires.  One could place it on a desk, or hold it in the hand and it would remain lit, with no connecting wires.  With all other light bulbs wire based, Tesla’s bulbs seem like something from outer space and the distant future.  And this is from the late 19th century and early 20th century.  Of course, there was a Tesla coil nearby.



In 1960, the name”Tesla” was assigned to the unit of Magnetic Flux Density by the Conference on Weights and Measures.  “A particle, carrying a charge of one coulomb, and moving perpendicularly through a magnetic field of one tesla, at a speed of one metre per second, experiences a force with magnitude one newton, according to the Lorentz force law. The tesla can also be expressed as shown in out banknote, 1 Tesla equals 1 weber per meter squared.

The equation adorns the front of this 100 dinari banknote from Serbia.  Coincidently, 100 T is the magnetic field strength of the average white dwarf star, which is considered the destiny of our sun.


Niagra Falls fascinated Nikola Tesla from his youth in Serbia.  He told his uncle that he wanted to place a wheel under the massive water falls to harness its power.

In America, Tesla designed the first hydroelectric plant and supervised its installation at Niagra Falls in 1895.  Thus the electrification of the United States, and indeed, the world, commenced.



The introduction of Tesla’s motor from 1888 onwards initiated what is sometimes referred to as the Second Industrial Revolution, making possible both the efficient generation and long distance distribution of electrical energy using the alternating current transmission system, also of Tesla’s invention (1888).  from here.


Regarding the image of the dove on our banknote, the following, by Tesla’s biographer, is selected from this website.

Nikola Tesla fed and cared for several pigeons, among a beautiful white dove with brown-grey tips on her wings was singled out. According to John O`Neil, the author of Tesla`s biography, the inventor loved this dove like he has not loved anyone else. The author claims that Tesla explained to him the connection.
Yes, I loved that pigeon, I loved her as a man loves a woman, and she loved me. If the pigeon became ill, he would nurse her back to health and as long as she needed him and he could have her, nothing else mattered and there was purpose in his life.
One night as he was lying in bed, she flew in through the window and he knew right away that she had something important to tell him – she was dying.
– And then, as I got her message, there came a light from her eyes – powerful beams of light. Yes, it was a real light, a powerful, dazzling, blinding light, a light more intense than I had ever produced by the most powerful lamps in my laboratory – Tesla told his biographer.
After the dove`s death, something disappeared from Tesla`s life. He knew his life`s work was done for good.


Balkan Peninsula, Europe, South East Europe, Yugoslavia

Yugoslavia – Tesla and Zmaj – The Scientist and the Poet

This post is dedicated to Zuska, a brilliant mind and champion of children’s literature, April 24, 2018

Nikola Tesla, the great scientist, detail from front of Yugoslavian 1992 series banknote.

The brilliant scientist, Nikola Tesla, featured on the banknote below, visited his homeland just once following his emigration to America. The renowned literary light, Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj, featured on the other banknote below, is said to have read his own poetry just once in public, and that upon Nikola Tesla’s homeland visit. As reported by another, “Dazed by the warm words of his literary idol, the young genius, apparently shaken, cried and kissed Dragon (translation of “Zmaj”) in his hand. Officials cried with him. If there is something noble and sacred in the experience of national identity and closeness that deletes geographical distance, then it happened in Serbia at that moment….”



1993 Yugoslavia series banknote featuring Jovan Jovanocich Zmaj

It was 1892 when they met. Jovan Jovanovich’s literary career had begun four decades earlier and compassed many genres; but what had most endeared him to his nation were his poems and stories for children. By 1892, his stature was national, his stories beloved, and his rhymes sung by parents to children throughout the land. Now 60 years old, Zmaj had been summoned by the King to join with many dignitaries in welcoming home a renowned son of Serbia. He had outlived his beloved wife and all five of their children. He wrote a poem for the occasion.

1992 series Yugoslavia banknote featuring Nikola Tesla

It was early July, 1892, when Nikola Tesla’s train arrived in Belgrade. He was 35 years old. It was a year of triumph. He was to be granted 40 patents in America, that year, for his inventions of all of the technologies surrounding the utilization AC power which would power the world ever since. What was known as “the War of the Currents”, concluded with the triumph of Tesla’s inventions over those of Edison. But it was a triumph reached through much pain. Having arrived in America a decade earlier with 4 cents in his pocket and a book of Zmaj’s poems, he went to work for his idol, Thomas Edison. After substantial successful work, Edison reneged on his agreement to pay; and Tesla was left in poverty. For awhile Telsa was reduced to digging the ditches for Edison’s DC current cables. It was a dark and difficult period for Nikola Tesla.

One can imagine Zmaj, walking to the podium, grey headed and worn, but stately and beloved; and Tesla watching nearby, famous in that assembly, but filled with the recent battle-scars which none could see. Carefully, Zmaj unfolded a sheet of paper before the rapt audience, and then began reading a poem he had specially created for the occasion.

1992 series banknote of Yugoslavia, back

He began, fittingly, by lauding the mysterious powers of electricity, which until Tesla, had been unreachable for humankind. And as he traveled in his poem through the pride of Serbia in their now renowned son, and then to the appropriateness of Tesla’s necessary return to America, tears began to fill Nikola’s eyes. He continued to listen to the words of this man, whose rhymes had painted his distant childhood with happiness, and whose verses had brightened his darkest hours in America; and his feelings began to overmaster his countenance. Tears streamed unwiped down his cheeks.

Tesla coil

And as the Master wove his tale towards its conclusion, poetically illustrating that Other Power, (which he knew so well), and which he declared now bound Tesla, “the Electrician”, forever to the bosom of his homeland over distances infinite, “without wires and without cables”, Nikola was sobbing. The Poet finished, and no one spoke. And to the sounds of sobbing Nikola, the entire assemblage of the nations’ dignitaries descended into tears, crying, melting into oneness in that magical moment. And with the old poet’s words lingering in the air, and the room filled with not a word but the sounds of many crying, the great scientist stood and approached the poet. Reaching for his outstretched hand, he grasped it and kissed it through his tears, and said, (in a poor translation of his Serbian), when I was a hardest in America and when I was of all rejected and misunderstood, with bitter tears I read Your poetry, and I promise to You now Your verses translated into English and in Amer go to publish “

It was a promise kept.

Below are five poems. Below the poems are two references regarding the meeting described above.



The following five poems are by Jovan Jovanovich Zmaj and translated by Nikola Tesla with Robert Underwood Johnson, editor of The Century Magazine. The poems and associate images are selected from a large collection on a wonderful website here and, more specifically, here . From the About page: “This site is dedicated to poetry written in the Serbo-Croatian language. It aims to bring the poets and their works to a wider audience through a collaborative effort to translate the poems into other languages and by consolidating them in one place. One is easily impressed by the beauty and wealth of culture embedded in this poetry. It is remarkable how little of this artistic output can be found on the Internet, particularly from the 19th and 20th centuries. This site hopes to change that! ”

I urge you to visit that website and read the poems. They are quite beautiful!

The Gipsy Praises His Horse

You’re admiring my horse, sir, I see.
He’s so light that you ‘d think it ‘s a bird
Say a swallow. Ah me!
He’s a prize!
It’s absurd
To suppose you can take him all in as he passes
With the best pair of eyes,
Or the powerful aid
Of your best pair of glasses :
Take ’em off, and let’s trade. What! “Is Selim as good as he seems?”
Never fear,
Uncle dear,
He’s as good as the best of your dreams,
And as sound as your sleep.
It’s only that kind that a gipsy would keep.
The emperor’s stables can’t furnish his mate.
But his grit and his gait,
And his wind and his ways,
A gipsy like me doesn’t know how to praise.
But (if truth must be told)
Although you should cover him over with gold
He’d be worth one more sovereign still.” Is he old?”
Oh, don’t look at his teeth, my dear sir!
I never have seen ’em myself.
Age has nothing to do with an elf;
So it’s fair to infer
My fairy can never grow old.
Oh, don’t look (Here, my friend,
Will you do me the kindness to hold
For a moment these reins while I ‘tend
To that fly on his shanks?) …
As I said (Ah now thanks!)
The longer you drive
The better he’11 thrive.
He’11 never be laid on the shelf!
The older that colt is, the younger he’11 grow.
I’ve tried him for years, and I know.” Eat? Eat?” do you say?
Oh, that nag isn’t nice
About eating! Whatever you have will suffice.
He takes everything raw
Some oats or some hay,
Or a small wisp of straw,
If you have it. If not, never mind
Selim won’t even neigh.
What kind of a feeder is he? That’s the kind!” Is he clever at jumping a fence?”
What a question to ask! He’s immense
At a leap!
How absurd!
Why, the trouble’s to keep
Such a Pegasus down to the ground.
He takes every fence at a bound
With the grace of a bird;
And so great is his strength,
And so keen is his sense,
He goes over a fence
Not across, but the way of its length!” Under saddle?” No saddle for Selim!
Why, you’ve only to mount him, and feel him
Fly level and steady, to see
What disgrace that would be.
No, you couldn’t more deeply insult him, unless
You attempted to guess
And pry into his pedigree.
Now why should you speak of his eyes?
Does he seem like a horse that would need
An eye-glass to add to his speed
Or, perchance, to look wise?
No indeed.
Why, not only’s the night to that steed
Just the same as the day,
But he knows all that passes
Both before and behind, either way.
Oh, he doesn’t need glasses!” Has he any defect?” What a question, my friend!
That is why, my dear sir, I am willing to sell.
You know very well
It is only the horse that you give or you lend
That has glanders, or springhalt, or something to mend:
‘T is because not a breath
Of defect or of death
Can be found on my Selim that he’s at your pleasure.
Alas! not for gipsies the care of such treasure. And now about speed. “Is he fast?” I should say!
Just listen I’11 tell you.
One equinox day,
Coming home from Erdout in the usual way,
A terrible storm overtook us. ‘T was plain
There was nothing to do but to run for it. Rain,
Like the blackness of night, gave us chase. But that nag,
Though he’d had a hard day, didn’t tremble or sag.
Then the lightning would flash,
And the thunder would crash
With a terrible din.
They were eager to catch him; but he would just neigh,
Squint back to make sure, and then gallop away.
Well, this made the storm the more furious yet,
And we raced and we raced, but he was n’t upset,
And he wouldn’t give in!
At last when we got to the foot of the hill
At the end of the trail,
By the stream where our white gipsy castle was set,
And the boys from the camp came a-waving their caps,
At a word he stood still,
To be hugged by the girls and be praised by the chaps.
We had beaten the gale,
And Selim was dry as a bone well, perhaps,
Just a little bit damp on the tip of his tail.*

[Tesla’s note: * Readers will be reminded by this conclusion of Mark Twain’s story of the fast horse as told to him by Oudinot, of the Sandwich Islands, and recorded in ” The Galaxy ” for April, 1871. In that veracious narrative it is related that not a single drop fell on the driver, but the dog was swimming behind the wagon all the way.]

I Begged a Kiss of a Little Maid

I begged a kiss of a little maid;
Shyly, sweetly, she consented;
Then of a sudden, all afraid,
After she gave it, she repented;
And now as penance for that one kiss
She asks a poem I’ll give her this.
But how can my song be my very best
When she, with a voice as soft as Circe’s,
Has charmed the heart from my lonely breast –
The heart, the fountain of all true verses?
Why, oh, why should a maid do this?
No I must give her back her kiss.

A Fairy From The Sun-Shower

[When the Servians see the sun-rays of a summer shower they
say it is the fairies combing their hair.]

OVER the meadow a shower is roaming ;
Just beyond is the summer sun ;
Fair is the hair that the fays are combing
Myth come true ! here ‘s my dainty one
Tripping the path in the wind’s soft blowing ;
Her slender form through her gown is showing,
Her foot scarce whispers the way she ‘s going.
” Come, my bright one, come, my soul,
Let my kisses be your goal.” But the path has heard my sighing,
Turns aside, and leads my fay
Into the forest, love defying.
Path, accursed be ! but stay !
Lost to love each moment gliding,
What if in the woodland hiding
Still for me my fay be biding ! . . .
” Wait, my bright one, wait, my soul,
Your sweet kisses are my goal.”

Why The Army Became Quiet

Some said they did but play at war,—
How that may be, ah! who can tell?
I know the gallant army corps
Upon their fleeing foemen fell,
And sacked their camp, and took their town,
And won both victory and renown. Now home returning, wild with song,
They come, the colors flying free.
But as within the door they throng,
Why does the army suddenly
Hush the fierce din, and silence keep?—
Why, little brother is asleep.

The Monster

” IN place of the heart, a serpent ;
Rage for the mind’s command ;
An eye aflame with wildness ;
A weapon in the hand ;” A brow with midnight clouded ;
On the lips a cynic smile
That tells of a curse unmatchable
Born of a sin most vile.” Of longing, or hope, or virtue,
No vestige may there be ;
You, even in vice inhuman
What can you want of me ?” You in its maddest moment
The Deepest Pit designed,
Let loose to sow confusion
In the order of mankind ;” Here Hatred found you crawling
Like vermin, groveling, prone,
Filled you with blood of others
And poisoned all your own.” Your very thoughts are fiendish
Smoke of the fires of Hell.
Weird as you are, how is it
I seem to know you well ?” Why with your wild delirium
Do you infect my sleep ?
Why with my daily footstep
An equal measure keep ? “The monster mutely beckons me
Back with his ghostly hand,
And dreading his fearful answer
I heed the grim command.” Nay, softly,” he says ; ” I pray thee,
Silence thy frightened moan,
And wipe the sweat from thy forehead
My kinsman thou, my own!” Look at me well, good cousin ;
Such wert thou fashioned of !
Thou, too, wouldst me resemble
Without that magic Love!”


some referenced materials regarding the meeting between Nikola Tesla and Jovan Jovanovich Zmaj:

Nikola Tesla and Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj met when only Tesla’s visit to Belgrade, 2. July 1892. year, when the train, via Novi Sad, come to Serbia, and in Belgrade was organized a festive new year’s Eve. Words of welcome, and with great enthusiasm Tesla is welcomed Serbian King, many famous people of the time, many citizens who have come to greet the famous genius, and one of the speakers at the ceremony he was none other than Tesla’s favorite poet, Jovan Jovanović Zmaj.

He is the scientist welcomed lyrics, which is the only time that Dragon publicly reads his poems. Tesla, sincerely moved by this encounter, approached by a poet and he kissed my hand and said: when I was a hardest in America and when I was of all rejected and misunderstood, with bitter tears I read Your poetry, and I promise to You now Your verses translated into English and in Amer go to publish “.

Upon his return to America, Tesla with passion to translate The songs and started writing about Serbian history. So he arose and Tesla’s essay from 1897. years of bitter fate of the Serbian people, in which Tesla uses and Dragons lyrics and thoughts together with their interpretations of the Kosovo and pokosovske the tragedy of the Serb people.

from Avant Art Magazin 10/07/14.


The following is taken from the website listed below.

“His annotated literary thoughts, both literature and writers, speak of being proud of his Serbian origin and birth, and that his patriotism could be brought into line with the universalist view of the world, which was derived from the desire to do all that he does – to the benefit of the whole mankind.

The awareness that everyone can be good with you, but that no one can love you as your neighbor, radiates from a string of Tesla records, and came to the fore when it came to Belgrade in 1892 when it came to a delightful welcome compatriots. Hence, from a feeling of closeness, and his enthusiasm with Belgrade, the dragonship of the Dragon and his later translation effort.

During the Tesla and Dragon meetings, more than a hundred names, the Dragon wanted to underscore this moment by not only writing the song in honor of Tesla’s arrival, but also for the first time publicly reading his verses.”

(The following welcome poem is a poor computer generated translation, alas, taken from the website’s original, below. But the eager mind, nevertheless, will glimpse the truths therein. I have been searching for an adequate English translation and would be very grateful should any reader point me in that right direction.)

Hello Nikola Tesla when he arrived in Belgrade

I do not know what it is, it’s essence
The only thing that does is misunderstand
As soon as we hear you come to us,
You immediately electrified us
What the rope wire
Electricity is jury wide,
The jet will be a compound
(After maybe an ethereal).
Stoji a tree, says Srpstvo,
Mother every leaf – son;
His biggest list blinked
So go away in the distance.
Thou didst Tesla, thou exclaimed,
He went far stronger
In far Colombia,
To have you tumble collapsed.
And you, Tesla, where you are
Inspired minds of the guard,
You will return to the neodymium,
To kiss your tree.
He loves a tree, his lungs,
Inside breast, son’s spine;
Every branch of the Serbian tree
Tesla tep, Tesla.
Today, Belgrade is happy
Handling with Serbian dikom
And he reveals his heart
Before the Serbs.
But you have to go back again
The meeting lasts for a while
Al ‘toplotu is carried by itself
Bratimski hugs
Realized j ‘yours
Mis’o divna i golema:
There will be links between us,
And there is no distance, no.
He understands the list again
Every tree’s shaft,
The electrician will connect us
(Electricity of Our Hearts)
And without wire and without cables.

“Dazed by the warm words of his literary idol, the young genius, apparently shaken, cried and kissed Dragon in his hand. Officials cried with him. If there is something noble and sacred in the experience of national identity and closeness that deletes geographical distance, then it happened in Serbia at that moment.”

from this online magazine.


For more stories from the Balkan Peninsula, click here.

For story tags, see bottom of this page.

Central Europe, Europe, Poland

Poland’s Copernicus – The Revolutionary of Revolutions

Nicolaus Copernicus wrote a book and called it “On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres.” The Heavenly Spheres were the five known planets of his age. The word “planet” came from the ancient Greek word for “wanderer”, because these five planets appeared to wander about against the fixed background of the starry night. These wandering movements had for millennium puzzled and intrigued the minds of people. Copernicus added our Earth to the classification of planets and argued that it moved through the heavens like the other five wanders, and that they all traveled around the Sun.

Galileo was born 21 years after Copernicus died, and built upon the work of Nicolaus.


detail from front of 1000 zloty banknote, Poland, Nikolai Kopernik

Copernicus wrote the book when he was around 40 years old. But because he anticipated that his ideas would be controversial, he delayed publication until just before his passing about 30 years later.

He didn’t seek to be controversial but merely sought a more elegant explanation for the truth of the observed universe. He sought Beauty. He built upon the ideas of predecessors, many of them out of the mainstream of contemporary thought.

His book is considered now to mark the beginning of the Scientific Revolution which has completely transformed our understanding of the world.


detail showing the insight of Copernicus: Revolutions of Planets around Sun, back side of 1000 zloty banknote, Poland

The Sun at center surrounded by 6 circles for the orbits of the 6 planets. (Copernicus assumed orbits were circular as did his predecessors. Later, the true ellipse shape of orbits was uncovered.)

Our Earth is shown in the third orbit at its 4 prime astronomical locations, Spring equinox, Summer solstice, Autumn equinox and Winter Solstice.


detail from back of 1000 zloty banknote, Poland, showing positions of Mercury and Venus

The two nearest planets, Mercury and Venus.

Mercury occupies the innermost orbit.

Venus occupies the second orbit from the Sun.

Our Earth occupies the third orbit from the Sun. It’s four prime orbital positions are illustrated on our banknote.


detail from back of 1000 zloty banknote, Poland, showing position of Mars


Mars occupies the fourth orbit from the Sun.

Two of the four prime orbital positions of Earth are shown in the third orbit in this detail.



detail from back of 1000 zloty banknote, Poland, showing orbits of Jupiter and Saturn

Jupiter occupies the fifth orbit from the Sun.

Saturn occupies the sixth orbit from the Sun.


Poland, 1000 zloty banknote, back
Poland, 1000 zloty banknote, front

Nicolai, you’re awesome.


For more stories from Central Europe on this website, click here.

For story tags, see bottom of this page.


Balkan Peninsula, Europe, Romania, South East Europe

Romania – Marked by the Sun for the New Millenium

The 2000 Lei banknote was designated by Romania to be redesigned in honor of the approaching year 2000, the dawn of the new millennium.  The theme selected was astronomical in view of the happy circumstance of a total eclipse traversing the country in 1999.

Solar systems as depicted on front of 2000 lei banknote, Romania

Our solar system is depicted on the front of Romania’s 2000 Lei banknote.

One can count 8 planets in this artist’s rendition of the solar system.  It was a bold move.

In 1930, Pluto was discovered and considered the solar system’s ninth planet.  In 1992, it was first suggested that this ninth “planet”, Pluto, might be reclassified, no longer as a planet, but, as a dwarf planet.  This suggestion was met with great debate and outcry.

In 1998 our artist prepared this 8 planet mural of our solar system for Romania’s eternal commemoration of the solar eclipse to sweep the country at the dawn of the new millennium.

In 2005, an object 25% more massive than Pluto was discovered orbiting our sun in the Kuiper belt, and Pluto’s fate was sealed.  Both Pluto, and the newly discovered Eris, were classified as “dwarf planets”, and the term “planet” redefined to exclude these smaller bodies.  Therefore, as of 2006, at the beginning of the new millennium, our solar system is considered to consist of just 8 planets.

But Romania depicted it thus in the old millennium!  Rather forward thinking of Romania, don’t you think?

The other side of the banknote features a silhouette map of Romania together with the trail of the sun’s shadow across the country.

detail from Romania 2000 lei banknote.

The colors blue and yellow and red are the colors of the national flag, and color the map of Romania depicted on the banknote.

As the earth rotates eastward towards the sun, our moon, speeding also eastward overhead, but at approximately twice the speed of the land below, moves briefly into that region where it blocks the sun’s rays to the earth.  The track of the shadow cast by the moon, as it eclipses the sun, moves eastward across our earth.  On this day in 1999, it is shown passing through Romania, commencing in the western extremity of the country, and passing through its southeastern regions.

It is a magnificent reminder of the immense movements of this world we inhabit.


detail showing track of total solar eclipse in western Romania

The northernmost and southernmost extent of totality ar indicated by the outside pair of lines.  The middle line indicates the center of the shadow track where totality lasts the longest, approximately 2 minutes and 23 seconds.  The adjacent two lines on either side of the centerline indicate where totality lasts 2 minutes.  The next pair of lines indicate 1 minute 30 seconds of shadow, and the next pair of lines indicate 1 minute of shadow.

Major western Romanian cities in the path of totality are shown on the map.


Major central and southeastern Romanian cities in the path of totality are shown in this portion of the map of Romania.

Bucuresti is the capital of Romania, and one of the great cities of Europe.  The history of Bucharest dates from at least the 15th century, and was the one time home of Vlad III, or Vlad the Impaler, or otherwise known as Vlad Dracula; yes, you read that correctly, Dracula.  His name had its origin in the name given to his father, Vlad Dracul, or, Vlad the Dragon, upon becoming a member of the order of the dragon, or dracul.  Dracula is the genitive form of dracul, and means essentially, son of the dragon.  Vlad appears to have been born in 1429 after his father settled in Transylvania, a historic region in central Romania.  The order of the dragon was dedicated to fighting the Ottoman advance into Europe.

A similar map with additional detail, provided by NASA, is included below.

For more stories from the Balkan Peninsula, click here.

NASA map showing details of solar eclipse across Romania in 1999
































Asia, Central Asia, Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan – The Great Al-Farabi, the Second Master

1 tenge banknote, Kazakhstan (1993), featuring Al-Farabi

Al-Farabi shines in world history as one of the brightest stars in the firmament. He commands unqualified respect across religions and political cultures worldwide.

His contributions illuminate our world to this day in Music and Mathematics, Geometry and Logic, Psychology, Politics and Philosophy.

Al-Farabi. detail from front of 1 tenge banknote, Kazakhstan (1993)

Writing in the early 10th century, Al-Farabi found philosophy dead. He revived the Greek philosophers through extensive translation, commentaries and contributions. Considering Reason to be superior to Revelation, he solved many challenges of the day advancing Islam to a sounder polity.

A worthy summation of his career might be that given by Maimonides, perhaps the greatest of all Jewish philosophers. Writing two hundred years later, Maimonides said of Al-Farabi: “If Aristotle is the first master, the second one is undoubtedly Farabi”. As an indicator of the world-wide respect Maimonides as well as for Al-Farabi, the moniker stuck. Al-Farabi is widely known today as “The Second Master”.

Architectural detail by Al-Farabi. 1 tenge banknote, Kazakhstan (1993)

His massive tome, The Book of Music, Kitâb al-musiqâ al-kabîr, is considered the single most important medieval manuscript in the Islamic world.

While classifying music under mathematics, he asserts that music must be performed and that the ear is the final judge. The hearing may usurp some fine mathematical principles. He wrote extensively on the therapeutic effects of music upon the soul.




Geometric constructions by Al-Farabi. Back of 1 tenge banknote, Kazakhstan (1993).

Islamic architecture and craftsmanship has long been characterized by elaborate geometric patterns.

The artisans of that era had design tools consisting of little more than a straight edge and a compass. The craftsman’s task was to construct, with these simple tools, architectures and patterns and designs that surprise the mind and uplift the spirit.

mathematical formulae. detail from back of 1 tenge banknote, Kazakhstan (1993)




Geometric construct by Al-Farabi. Detail from back of 1 tenge banknote, Kazakhstan

Al-Farabi’s text book entitled, “A Book of Spiritual Crafts and Natural Secrets in the Details of Geometrical Figures” advanced the craft considerably.  In it are numerous original geometrical constructs with designs and proofs.



Geometric construct by Al-Farabi. Detail from back of 1 tenge banknote, Kazakhstan,











Arabian Peninsula, Asia, Southwest Asia, Yemen

Yemen – The Great Dam of Ma’rib (10 rial banknote)


Yemen 10 rials banknote, back, featuring the great dam of Ma’rib









The Great Dam of Ma’rib was built almost three thousand years ago and is considered one of the great engineering projects of the ancient world.

Yemen 10 rials front (3)
The great Dam of Ma’rib. detail from back of 10 rial banknote. Yemen

The medieval Arab geographer Yāqūt al-Ḥamawī described the great dam of Ma’rib: “It is between three mountains, and the flood waters all flow to the one location, and because of that the water only discharges in one direction; and the ancients blocked that place with hard rocks and lead. The water from springs gathers there as well as floodwater, collecting behind the dam like a sea. Whenever they wanted to they could irrigate their crops from it, by just letting out however much water they needed from sluice gates; once they had used enough they would close the gates again as they pleased.” reference.

Ancient culvert and the Shaharah bridge. Detail from back of 100 rial banknote, Yemen

According to Arab tradition, the city Ma’rib was founded by Shem, son of Noah, a thousand years previous. With 1000 miles of coastline on the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, it flourished as a center of trade reaching from the Mediterranean to India. Agriculture flourished in large part due to its amazing irrigation systems consisting of water tunnels in mountains, and dams. Yemen’ spices, frankincense and myrrh, were traded throughout the world. Modern scholarship says the renowned Queen of Sheba came from the kingdom of Saba, centered around the oasis of Ma’rib.



Arabian Coffee berries on a branch, detail from back of 10 rial banknote, Yemen







Yemen, 10 rial banknote, front. Qubbat Al-Bakiliyah Mosque (Al-Bakiriya, Al-Baqiliyah, al-Bakiriyya) in Sana’a.