Farah’s Encyclopedia of Nature


This Persian manuscript contains the text and accompanying illustrations of Faraḥ nāmah (Farah’s encyclopedia of nature), also known by the title Ajayib al-dunya (Wonders of the world). The work is a treatise on natural history by al-Muṭahhar ibn Muḥammad al-Yazdi (flourished circa 1184). The manuscript was copied in the 17th century in a large Taliq script, and is illuminated with detailed multicolored illustrations of animals, birds, plants, rocks, and humans. Persian miniature painting was becoming a fine art genre in the 12th–13th centuries, and portrayal of the human figure was permitted in Islamic countries in lay contexts. The images here are in bright fresh colors, mostly in two dimensions, but occasionally with the suggestion of perspective. The very varied layout, with illustrations large and small in differing positions on the page and sometimes breaking through the text frame, gives the work great liveliness. The manuscript is at the Medical Historical Library in the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library, Yale University.

Last updated: October 24, 2012