Folio from Aja’ib al-makhluqat (Wonders of Creation) by al-Qazvini; recto: Constellations of the Southern Hemisphere: Corvus (al-Ghurab), Centaurus (Qanturis); verso: Lupus (al-Saba’), Ara (al-Mijmara), Corona Austrina

Author: Zakariyya ibn Muhammad al-Qazwini (d. 1283)
Historical period(s)
early 15th century
Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper
H x W (recto bird): 4.1 × 6.8 cm (1 5/8 × 2 11/16 in)
Iraq or Eastern Turkey
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Detached manuscript folio

Ara, bird, Centaurus, Corvus, Iraq, Lupus, naskh script, Turkey, Wonders of Creation

To 1945
Friedrich Paul Theodor Sarre (1865-1945). [1]

To 1954
Mme. Maria Sarre, Ascona, Switzerland. [2]

From 1954
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Dr. Paul Kempner, New York on behalf of Mme. Maria Sarre, Ascona, Switzerland. [3]


[1] Object file F1954.33-114, undated folder sheet note 2. “The manuscript was originally acquired by Prof. Friedrich Sarre in Algiers”.

[2] Object file F1954.33-114, undated folder sheet note 1. See also Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List after 1920 file, Collections Management Office.

[3] See note 2. See also invoice dated July 22, 1954 and correspondences between Dr. Paul Kempner and the Freer Gallery, dated July 21, 1954; copies in object file.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Friedrich Paul Theodor Sarre 1865-1945
Mme. Maria Sarre 1875-1971


Both Corvus, "The Raven," and Centaurus, "The Centaur," are constellations of the southern hemisphere.  Corvus is composed of seven stars while Centaurus, whose forepart is made up of a man and hindpart of a horse, consists of 37.  Al-Kazwini records that the last two stars of Centaurus are called "the two sworn upon," and according to tradition one of these passes very close to the path of Corvus.  Some people, writes al-Kazwini, believe that the star belongs to "the Raven" while others insist that it is part of  "The Centaur."

Published References
  • Ferdinand Wustenfeld. Zakarija ben Muhammed ben Mahmud el-Cazwini's Kosmographie. 2 vols., Gottingen, 1848-1849. .
  • Encyclopedia of Islam., new ed. Leiden. vol 2: p. 841.
  • Philipp Walter Schulz. Die Persisch-Islamische Miniaturmalerei: Ein Beitrag zur Kunstgeschichte Irans. 2 vols, Leipzig. vols. 1, 2, pls. B, C, 13.
  • Friedrich Paul Theodor Sarre, Mme. Maria Sarre. Katalog der Austellung im Stadelschen Kunstinstitut. Frankfurt am Main. cat. 295, pl. 6.
  • Friedrich Paul Theodor Sarre, Fredrik Robert Martin. Die Ausstellung von Meisterwerken Muhammedanischer Kunst in Muchen, 1910. 3 vols., Munich. vol. 1: pls. 11-12.
  • Richard Ettinghausen, Ernst Kuhnel. A Survey of Persian Art from Prehistoric Times to the Present. 6 vols., London and New York, 1938 - 1939. vol. 5: pls. 853a, 854a.
  • Fredrik Robert Martin. The Miniature Painting and Painters of Persia, India, and Turkey from the 8th to the 18th Century. 2 vols., London. vol. 1: fig. 2.
  • Catalogue of the International Exhibition of Persian Art. Exh. cat. London. cat. 535b.
  • Ernst Kuhnel. Miniaturmalerei im Islamischen Orient. Die Kunst des Ostens Berlin. pls. 33-34.
  • Richard Ettinghausen, Grace Dunham Guest. The Iconography of a Kashan Luster Plate. vol. 4 Washington and Ann Arbor. pls. 16, 20.
  • Zakariyya ibn Muhammad al-Qazwini. Zakarija Ben Muhammed Ben Mahmud el-Kazwini's Kosmographie. vol. 1, Leipzig. .
  • Classiques Arabes. 7 vols., Beirut. vol. 7: p. 7.
  • Julie Badiee. An Islamic Cosmography: The Illustrations of the Sarre Qazwini. Ann Arbor. .
  • Richard Ettinghausen. Studies in Muslim Iconography I: The Unicorn. vol. 1, no. 3 Washington. pls. 13, 16, 41-42.
  • Barbara Schmitz. Islamic Manuscripts in the New York Public Library. New York. pp. 3, 7.
  • F. Taeschner. Die Psychologie des Kazwini. Kiel. p. 6.
  • Laurence Binyon, J.V.S. Wilkinson, Basil Gray. Persian Miniature Painting: A Descriptive Catalogue of the Miniatures Exhibited at Burlington House, January-March 1931. Exh. cat. Oxford, January - March 1931. cat. 9, p. 26, pl. 6.
  • Ivan Stchoukine. Les Peintures des Manuscrits Timurides. Bibliothèque archéologique et historique Paris. cat. 8, pp. 37-38.
  • Ernst Kuhnel. Islamische Kleinkunst: ein Handbuch fur Sammler and Liebhaber. Bibliothek fur Kunst, 2nd ed. Braunschweig, Germany. p. 48.
  • Sir Thomas W. Arnold. Painting in Islam: A Study of the Place of Pictoral Art in Muslim Culture. Oxford. p. 84, pl. 16.
  • Emile Dermenghem. Mahomet et la Tradition Islamique. Bourges, France. p. 98.
  • Julie Badiee. The Sarre Qazwini: An Early Aq Qoyunlu Manuscript? vol. 14 Washington and Ann Arbor. pp. 99, 107, fig. 8.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Art of the Arab World. Exh. cat. Washington, 1975. cat. 60, pp. 116-131.
  • Fritz Saxl. Beitrage zu einer Geschichte der Planeten darstellung im Orient und Okzident. vol. 3 Berlin. p. 152.
  • Ernst Diez. Die Kunst der Islamischen Volker. Handbuch der Kunstwissenschaft Berlin. p. 172, fig. 223.
  • Richard Ettinghausen. Arab Painting. Treasures of Asia Geneva. p. 178.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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