Monday, August 18, 2008

Weird Creations

pages from acaibul mahlukat
Although I am not pleased with the translation, I have decided to literally translate "Acaibü'l Mahlukat", hence the title of the post. The book was written with a calligraphy technique called nesih in 16th century Istanbul. In this book of 176 pages, each of which containing 19 lines, there are 145 miniatures and 9 drawings. Covering the geography and cosmography of the era, it is one of the prime examples of the Islamic literature of the time, a mini encyclopedia or sort of.

The book itself was written by Kazvini (died 1283) and translated to Turkish upon the request of Prince Mustafa, the son of Suleiman the Magnificent. Translation effort by Sururi halted for a while when the Prince was killed in 1553, but later was completed by Rodosizade in June 1558.

Weird Creations start with a story of a two-headed person and continues with the stars and their movement, known celestial bodies of the time like the Moon, Venus, Mars etc, and goes on telling about the stars of the South and North Pole, and constellations.

The best of the miniatures reside in the chapter titled "Angels Living in the Sky"and we see Gabriel with Burak, the Arabic equivalent of Pegasus, along with pictures of man, oxe, lion and angels.

Copies of the book can also be seen in Topkapi Museum, Suleymaniye Library, British Library London and Berlin National Library.

Dimensions: 24x16 cm
Estimated worth: $ 500,000

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