London Qazwini

Date: Early fourteenth century
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Iraq
Dimensions: 30 × 19.2 cm
Description: In 1276, Zakariya ibn Muḥammad al-Qazwini (ca. 1203–83; sometimes shortened to Qazwini or Qazvini) wrote the 'Aja'ib al-makhluqat (The Wonders of Creation; short for The Wonders of Creation and Their Singularities, or The Wonders of Creation and the Oddities of Existence). This cosmology and encyclopedia of the natural world survives in many copies, some of which are illustrated extensively. The text documents real and mythological phenomena, both earthly (geography, natural history, mythical creatures) and heavenly (astronomical and supernatural). The Arabic text was later translated into Persian and Turkish.

One of the earliest copies, the so-called London Qazwini reproduced here, was made in Mosul in the early fourteenth century. The image on folio 62v features a brick nilometer, a device for measuring the clarity and water level of the Nile. The recto and verso of folio 100 show the biblical king Solomon enthroned. In his presence are attendants and angels as well as jinns (from which we get the English word "genie"). In Islamic accounts of Solomon's life, he is described as having authority over these nature spirits, even enlisting them to help build the Temple. In the London Qazwini, the jinns sometimes appear as animals and sometimes as hybrid beings mixing human with bovine or avian bodies.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 9
Image Credits: British Library

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London Qazwini, London, British Library, Or. 14140, fol. 100r with King Solomon London Qazwini, London, British Library, Or. 14140, fol. 100v with King Solomon