The Wonders of Creation


Zakarīyā ibn Muhammad al-Qazwīnī (circa 1203–83), was a distinguished Iranian scholar who was conversant in poetry, history, geography, and natural history. He served as legal expert and judge in several localities in Iran and at Baghdad. After traveling throughout Mesopotamia and Syria, he wrote his famous Arabic-language cosmography, 'Aja'eb ol-makhluqat wa qara'eb ol-mowjudat (The wonders of creation, or literally, Marvels of things created and miraculous aspects of things existing). This treatise, frequently illustrated, was immensely popular and is preserved today in many copies. It has been translated into Persian, Turkish, and German. The book covers such subjects as astrology, cosmology, and the natural sciences. The book’s subject matter divides into two broad groupings: the sublime and transcendental, and the gross or material. From the point of view of the vastness of information contained in his work, al-Qazwīnī is often compared with the great Roman scholar Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79) and frequently has been called the “Pliny of Middle Ages.” The present manuscript, a Persian translation of the 'Aja'eb, contains curious drawings and paintings in the Persian style, both monochromatic and in watercolor. The copy is kept in the manuscript collections of the National Library and Archives of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Last updated: May 19, 2015