The present lot contains volumes 20, 21 and 22 of what must have been an enormous work encompassing cosmography, geography, history and biography. According to Brockelmann, the work was in either 22 or 27 volumes, but no complete copy of the whole work is known to exist. Another earlier copy of volume 20 is in the John Rylands Library.
This is an encyclopaedia drawing on the works of Dioscarides, Galen and Ibn al-Baytar. It is divided into domestic and wild animals, birds, insects, marine animals, plants, stemless plants and herbs.
This copy is remarkable for the huge number and variety of miniatures. Their style suggests that they may have been copied from European prints. Some of the drawings have not been completed, perhaps because the artist was ignorant of what the plant looked like. This copy was prepared in Syria by a Christian, who may have been a monk working in a monastery scriptorium. The use of the bismallah at the beginning of the work suggests that this was a commission produced for a Muslim patron.
The author was born in Damascus and studied in Cairo, Alexandria and the Hijaz.
Brockelmann, C.: GAL, II, p. 142, SII, p. 175.
A note of f.87a says that this copy was made from the original copy.