Zakariyia b. Muhammad b. Mahmud al-Qazwini was born in Qazwin and spent some years in Damascus before settling in Iraq, where he became the Qadi of Wasit and Hilla. His two compilations, a Cosmology and a Geography, were translated several times from Arabic into Persian and Turkish. The Cosmology Aja'ib al-Makhluqat wa Ghara'ib al-Maujudat, describes all of creation: the superlunary sphere, the planets and stars, together with the angels and the method of determining time by observation of heavenly cycles; the description the sublunary sphere follows this, and includes sections on the four elements, minerals, plants, beasts, and man.
The material was collected from written sources including somewhat distorted travellers' tales with echoes of ancient mythology, found alongside much genuine factual information, giving this work its curious character. Sections on the strangely formed race of humans with no head and faces on their chest, or with various numbers of limbs recall similar descriptions in Western medieval literature. For further reading, see Esin Atil, Art of the Arab World, Washington 1975, p. 115.
A similar copy of this manuscript was sold at Christie's, New York, 27-28 June 2006, lot 67. That comparable has similar vibrant miniatures, including several exciting figural illustrations.