The Kitab nact al-hayawan (book on the characteristics of animals, BL, Or. 2784) and the #Ibn Bakhtishu'c' illustrated bestiaries.
The purpose of this thesis is to examine an illustrated
Medieval Arabic bestiary (British Library Or. 2784), and
the so-called Ibn Bakhttshü bestiary tradition to which it
belongs. Despite the fact that this bestiary tradition is
one of the most important in Medieval Islam--and the
richest in illustrated copies--there exists for it not a
single edited text or critical translation. Analysis of
this tradition from both a textual and iconographical point
of view thus fulfills a longstanding need and may logically
begin with the earliest manuscript: the Kitab nact al-hayawn.
In VOLUME ONE: Chapter One outlines the purpose of the
thesis, and discusses the methodology used. The authorship
of the manuscript, its commissioner, its sources and text
are then examined in Chapter Two and the two main sources,
Aristotle and Ibn Bakhtishüc , are discussed in detail.
Historical information (translated for the first time from
Arabic sources) on the Bakhtishüc family of physicians is
presented. The listing and identification of other sources
is accompanied by a bibliographical apparatus. Finally, the
place of the Nact in the history of zoology is discussed.
Chapter Three examines the manuscript itself. It
presents a general description of its contents, the paper
and pigments used. A description folio by folio follows,
with a reconstruction of the history of the manuscript.
Relying on both internal syntactic evidence and collation
with other manuscripts, a reconstruction of the original
order of the folios then follows since the sequence of
folios has been drastically altered in subsequent
Chapter Four describes the other bestiaries of the so called
Ibn Bakhtishüc tradition, and discusses and
interprets the relationship of the Nact to them.
Chapter Five examines the miniatures. Their
organization, pictorial and compositional elements are
considered. A detailed stylistic and iconographical
analysis of those of particular significance for an
understanding of the place in history and provenance of the
manuscript is provided, together with an analysis of those
which present peculiarities in terms of composition and
Chapter Six discusses the date, geographical provenance,
and the historical context of the Nact.