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`Aja'ib al-Makhluqat wa Ghara'ib al-Mawjudat (The Wonders of Creation and the Oddities of Existence)

Author Zakaria bin Muhammad bin Mahmud Abu Yahya Qazwini

Not on view

A Persian physician, Zakaria al-Qazwini believed the horn of the karkadann, a term sometimes used in European illustrations of the unicorn, to be effective in curing illnesses as serious as epilepsy and lameness, and as mundane as constipation. Al-Qazwini explains that, because karkadann horn was an effective antidote to poison, it was used to make knife handles.

This thirteenth-century Arabic text was translated into both Persian and Turkish and was widely distributed over the centuries, as this example attests. Here, the karkadann is pale pink with spots, and its horn, which sprouts branches, grows straight from the top of its head.

`Aja'ib al-Makhluqat wa Ghara'ib al-Mawjudat (The Wonders of Creation and the Oddities of Existence), Zakaria bin Muhammad bin Mahmud Abu Yahya Qazwini (ca. 1203–83), Tempera and ink on paper, Mughal India

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