Thursday, November 21, 2013

Look What I Found: The Manafi' Al-Hayawan Of Ibn Bukhtishu: The Shiqraq, Or Green Magpie

That's right, a Medieval Persian copy of an Arabian (I think) bestiary. Well, one page of it, anyway.

From the description on the Aga Khan Museum website:

"Ibn Bukhtishu (d. 1085 CE) composed his bestiary, the Manafi' al-hayawan (Usefulness of Animals) around the middle of the eleventh century, describing the entire range of species from humans to insects, including their characteristics and medicinal properties. The original Arabic text was then translated into Persian by 'Abd al-Hadi ibn Muhammad ibn Mahmud ibn Ibrahim al-Maraghi... The illustration on this folio corresponds to the heading painted in blue, and reads, “Concerning the uses of the shiqraq”, or magpie. The text that follows describes the habits and qualities of the green magpie, which perpetually seeks flies for food. It also explains that the droppings of the shiqraq, when boiled in fat with gall, will darken white hair, and that the carat value of gold will increase if warmed up under the bird. The text above the heading belongs to a preceding discussion about the properties of the khuttal, or swallow." Read more!

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