Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

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The constellations of the Crow and Centaurus

  • Description

    These illustrated pages [EA1978.2573, EA1978.2576, EA1978.2577] originally belonged to three different manuscripts of The Wonders of Creation and the Oddities of Existence (Arabic: ‘Aja’ib al-makhluqat wa-ghara’ib al-mawjudat), a treatise on the marvels of the universe written by cosmographer and geographer Zakariya ibn Muhammad al-Qazwini (1203–1283).

    Widely copied and illustrated across the Islamic world, The Wonders of Creation consists of two main parts. The first part deals with the heavenly spheres, and discusses angels, constellations, planets, and different calendars. The second part, devoted to the earthly realm, describes the four elements, minerals, plants, living beings – including humans – spirits, and extraordinary creatures such as giants.

    The style of the first folio depicting the angel Ruh suggests that it was produced in western Iran during the second half of the 1500s. The second and third folio of constellations and giants belong to two separate, but closely related, manuscripts from a different painting tradition, and were possibly made in the Deccan (central India) at the end of the 1500s or early 1600s.

  • Details

    The Wonders of Creation and the Oddities of Existence
    Associated place
    AsiaIndia Deccan (possible place of creation)
    Asia Iran (possible place of creation)
    late 16th century - early 17th century
    Zakariya ibn Muhammad al-Qazwini (1203 - 1283) (author)
    Material and technique
    ink and colour on paper
    mount 55.9 x 40.6 cm (height x width)
    page 37.2 x 22.8 cm (height x width)
    painting 28.7 x 16.4 cm (height x width)
    Material index
    Technique index
    Object type index
    No. of items
    Credit line
    Gift of Gerald Reitlinger, 1978.
    Accession no.
  • Further reading

    Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 18 July-13 September 1981, and London: Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1981, Eastern Ceramics and Other Works of Art from the Collection of Gerald Reitlinger: Catalogue of the Memorial Exhibition, Deborah Willis, ed. (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum and London: Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1981), no. 395 on p. 137, illus. p. 137

    London: Hayward Gallery, 8 April-4 July 1976, The Arts of Islam, Dalu Jones and George Michell, eds (London: Arts Council of Great Britian, 1976), no. 546 on p. 335

    Carboni, Stefano, ‘Constellations, Giants and Angels from al-Qazwini Manuscripts’, James Allan, ed., Islamic Art in the Ashmolean Museum, Part One, Oxford Studies in Islamic Art, 10 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), x.1, pp. 83-87, fig. 2 p. 84


    • First floor | Room 31 | Islamic Middle East

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