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Syrinx von Hees

Enzyklopädie als Spiegel des Weltbildes (Diskurse der Arabistik 4). Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz Verlag, 2002, 398 p.

Compte-rendu réalisé par Karin Rührdanz

Texte intégral

1The book deals with the 13th century encyclopaedia of natural history ⁽Ajā’ib al-maḫlūqāt wa ġarā’ib al-mawjūdāt by Zakariyā’ al-Qazwīnī. The analysis intends to define the place of Qazwīnī’s work and the concept of the created world it presents within the framework of the intellectual history of Muslim culture (p. 15). This is done, first, by trying to establish a biography of Qazwīnī, including his birth date (1202), mainly based upon material found in works by Ibn Fuwatī and in Qazwīnī’s own geographical text Āṯār al-bilād. Even if one would not accept every conclusion of the author, she sketches a plausible picture of Qazwīnī’s historical and intellectual background.

2Second, the main part of the book analyses the ⁽Ajā’ib al-maḫlūqāt by comparing selected entries to descriptions of the same subjects in other Arabic and Persian works from a wide range of genres, which may have been used as sources by Qazwīnī. The passages chosen for comparison are from the chapters on animals and on angels. As a result, Qazwīnī’s selection and arrangement of information appears as the most comprehensive, systematic and consistent presentation, at the same time quite comprehensible and entertaining. The author convincingly shows how far Qazwīnī smoothly integrated philosophical ideas.

3The ⁽Ajā’ib al-maḫlūqāt text mainly used by Hees is that of the oldest known copy, the Munich manuscript cod. arab. 464 of 1280. She only shortly discusses problems of textual tradition and seems unaware of the real differences between the first and the second redaction. Basing the analysis on a manuscript comprising the second redaction means brushing aside the first, no less widely distributed redaction with its condensed, somewhat more demanding (including language), and less entertaining text. It was this redaction that was dedicated to ⁽Alā’ al-Dīn Juwaynī, as its earliest manuscript (about 1300, British Library, Or. 14140) reveals. The dedication is originally absent from the second redaction, that was obviously intended to appeal to a larger public. Therefore, the conclusions drawn by the author pertain, strictly speaking, only to the second redaction of Qazwīnī’s work. Her positive assessment of the ⁽Ajā’ib al-maḫlūqāt as an outstanding compendium of natural history will stand.

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Karin Rührdanz. Syrinx von Hees, « Enzyklopädie als Spiegel des Weltbildes (Diskurse der Arabistik 4). Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz Verlag, 2002, 398 p. », Abstracta Iranica [En ligne], Volume 26 | 2005, document 323, mis en ligne le 07 décembre 2005, consulté le 18 juin 2019. URL :

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