The composite Persian volume known as the Book of Wonders, deals with natural history and geography. It is made up of the ‘Seven Seas’ section of ‘Aja’ib al-makhluqat wa-ghara’ib al-mawjudat (Marvels of Things Created and Miraculous Aspects of Things Existing) by Zakariya’ ibn Muhammad al-Qazwini, a 13th century Persian physician, and a 14th century text by Damiri, the Haiyat al-Haiyawan (Lives of the Animals). Our version was probably illustrated in Hyderabad, central India, in the 18th century.
Images from the Book of Wonders have already been featured in this advent calendar but we wanted to share one more image from this manuscript – a chimera. We are calling this beast a chimera but it could possibly be a version of a simurgh, a mythical Persian bird, with the head of a dog and claws of a lion.