Kitāb na‘t al-ḥayawān كتاب نعت الحيوان

Or 2784

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The record is made up of Codex A collection of pages, usually gathered into quires, and bound between covers. ; ff. ii+258+iii. It was created in 13th century. It was written in Arabic. The original is part of the British Library: Oriental Manuscripts.

About this record


Bestiary describing the characteristics and medical uses of a large number of animals. The anonymous compiler of the work (see f. 95r) claims it is based on writings by Aristotle (أرسطاطاليس; d. 322 BC) and Abū Sa‘īd ‘Ubayd Allāh ibn Jibrā’īl ibn ‘Ubayd Allāh ibn Bakhtīshū‘ ibn Jibrā’īl ibn Bakhtīshū‘ ibn Jūrjis ibn Jibrā’īl (أبو سعيد عبيد الله بن جبرائيل بن عبيد الله بن بختيشوع بن جبرائيل بن بختيشوع بن جورجس بن جبرائيل; d. ca 1058).

The text contains eighty-six illustrations of very high artistic quality. The present order of the folios is faulty, and the text is defective at the beginning and end. A full reconstruction of their order along with a description of all illustrations can be found in Contadini, A World of Beasts (Leiden: Brill, 2011) pp. 25-37 and 167-69.

Begins (ff. 4v, line 2-5r, line 1):

نعت الحجل

وهو الفتح

إن من عجائب الحجل أنه إذا

أصابت بيضه أفة ...

Ends (f. 258v, lines 7-9):

... وإن

جفّف علق النهر وسحق مع عسل وطُلي به الذكر

وقت الجماع وجدت المرأة لذة عظيمة

Extent and format
Codex A collection of pages, usually gathered into quires, and bound between covers. ; ff. ii+258+iii
Physical characteristics

Material: Paper

Dimensions: 235 x 160 mm leaf [190 x 110 mm written]

Foliation: British Museum foliation in pencil

Ruling: Misṭarah ; 9 lines per page; vertical spacing 6 lines per 10 cm

Script: Naskh

Ink: Black ink, with rubricated headings

Decoration: Illustrated (ff. 2v-4r, 96r and 101v) and textual (ff. 4v-5r) frontispieces with gold borders

Binding: British Museum binding

Condition: Many leaves damaged and repaired

Marginalia: Occasional marginal notes in Arabic and Persian

Seals: F. 1r and 257v

Written in
Arabic in Arabic script

Archive information for this record

Access & Reference

Original held at
British Library: Oriental Manuscripts
Access conditions


Archive reference
Or 2784

History of this record

13th century (CE, Gregorian)
Context of creation


  • Muḥammad Ḥasan walad Ḥājjī ‘Abd Allāh (محمد حسن ولد حجي عبد الله): his inscription (in Persian), dated Sha‘bān 1272/April-May 1856 (f. 1r);
  • Muḥammad Riḍā (محمد رضا): his seal, dated 1228/1813 (f. 1r);
  • Semi-legible seal (f. 257v).
Immediate source of acquisition

Purchased from Adolf Tintner of Pera, 14 June 1884

Related material

Finding aids

Rieu, Charles, Supplement to the Catalogue of the Arabic Manuscripts (London: The British Museum, 1894), Item 778, pp. 531-32

Select Bibliography


Contadini, Anna, A World of Beasts: a thirteenth-century illustrated Arabic book on animals (the Kitāb Na't al-Ḥayawān) in the Ibn Bakhtīshū' tradition (Leiden: Brill, 2011)

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Kitāb na‘t al-ḥayawān كتاب نعت الحيوان, British Library: Oriental Manuscripts, Or 2784, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 15 July 2024]

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