The Perfect Pearl of Wonders and the Precious Pearl of Extraordinary Things
Kharīdat al-ʻAjā’ib wa Farīdat al-Gharā’ib (The perfect pearl of wonders and the precious pearl of extraordinary things) by Sirāj al-Dīn Abū Ḥafṣ ʿUmar Ibn al-Wardī (died 1457) is a compilation of texts on geography, natural history, and other subjects. The geographical texts constitute the bulk of the work. They list and describe different places, with emphasis on the Middle East and North Africa, although sections on China and Europe also are included. The geographical information presented varies greatly in quality, even for those regions that are central to the work. The author states, for example, that “Abyssinia and its lands face the land of Ḥijāz, there being a sea between them. The majority of [its people] are Christian, and it is an extensive land, stretching from the east of Nubia to its south. And they [i.e., the Abyssinians] are those who conquered Yemen before Islam, in the days of the Khosroes [i.e., the Sassanian rulers of Persia].” The account of Arḍ al-Furs (Persia) is considerably less detailed. It states that Persia consists of five provinces: “the first is Arjān, which is the smallest of the five, and which is called the province of Shāhpūr, the second Iṣṭakhr, and that which is attached to it, … and the third is the province of Shāhpūr the Second, the fourth Shadhrawān, with its base at Shiraz, and the fifth is the province of Susa.” The section on geography is followed by a considerably shorter section on natural history, in which the author presents the properties of rocks, gems, plants, fruits, seeds, and animals. Short anecdotal accounts relating to various other subjects follow, quoted from and generally attributed to works by other authors. The book concludes with a qaṣīdah (an elegiac ode) on the Day of Judgment. The manuscript contains two maps, of the Kaaʿba in Mecca and a circular map of the world. Near the center of the world map—fringed by the semi-circles of the legendary mountain range of qāf —are Mecca and Medina. Notable cities shown on the map include Constantinople (marked by a red crescent) and Baghdad (indicated by concentric circles, presumably alluding to the circular walls of Caliph al-Manṣūr). The same inaccuracies that occur in the text also are found in the world map, as for example in the placing of Ghazni on the shores of the Aral Sea. What appears to have been the colophon has been truncated, but the date of Jumādā al-ākhira 27, 1041 A.H. (January 1632) remains visible.
Title in Original Language
خریدة العجائب و فریدة الغرائب
Type of Item
96 leaves (25 lines) bound : paper ; 20 x 14.5 centimeters
- "Ibn al-Wardī," in Encyclopaedia of Islam, edited by P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, and W.P. Heinrichs (Leiden: Brill, 1955–2005). Brill Online. http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopaedia-of-islam-2/ibn-al-wardi-SIM_3406.
Last updated: April 3, 2015