zakariya qazwini

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The Wonders of Creation and Oddities of Existence; Egypt/Syria, 1270

The Wonders of Creation and the Oddities of Existence (Ajaib al-makhluqat wa Gharaib al-mawjudat) was compiled in 1270 by Zakariya Qazwini, a judge living in Syria. It remained popular reading for centuries. It is an illustrated compendium, which describes the many marvels of the universe. The book covers the fields of geography, astronomy, astrology and natural history, in a mixture of science and superstition. The sections on natural history were subject to fantasy, as some of its contents were based on the tall tales of travelers returning from distant regions. Qazwini divided the known universe into three spheres: the Heavens (which included stars, planets and angels), Water (consisting of the seas, fish, the distant islands and their strange inhabitants) and the Earth (composed of animal, vegetable and mineral).

The Al-mi’raj is a strange rabbit creature with a long horn atop its head. It is said to live on a mysterious island only known as Jezîrat al-Tennyn in the Indian Ocean. It was reported in Arabic poetry and in Marvels of Things Created and Miraculous Aspects of Things Existing by Zakariya Ibn Muhammad al-Qazwini from the 1200s. The horn of this yellow rabbit is said to be 2 feet long and black in color. The Al-mi’raj is quite aggressive and territorial - said to be able to kill things over two times its own size by stabbing its prey with its horn. It can eat creatures larger than it too, commonly being told to have a ravenous appetite. Lore says that only a powerful witch can calm the Al-mi’raj enough to move it away from villages.