Giraffe (zurafa) led by the halter by a dark complexioned driver with a goad; on its back a covering ornamented with a bird and a fish. Below it three plant designs, to the right conventionalized tree with a bird. The drawings fits with the text: The giraffe is said to be a hybrid of the she-camel of Abyssinian breed and the wild cow and the dih (the wild hyena).

A crocodile with open mouth. Inside is a little bird picking the crocodile's teeth. Above are three plant designs bending to the left. At the bottom beneath a convex border of earth is a pool in a mosaic design, in which are three small fishes. The drawing fits the text: What is more extraordinary than a bird earning a livelihood only by means of cleaning a crocodile's teeth?

A lion eating the entrails of the carcass of a cow. The drawing fits the text: The lion is the king of the beasts of prey, and it eats carcasses..., and it begins by drinking the blood, then it opens the stomach and eats what is in it of food and saliva and the intestines together with the evacuation.


An ostrich sitting on eggs, to the right plant designs, to the left a flower on a heap of stones. The drawing fits with the text: It is also said more stupid than an ostrich; this is because it ceases to brood on its eggs when longing for food, meanwhile if it sees eggs belonging to another ostrich which has gone away in search of food, it broods these eggs and forgets its own.

All these drawings comes out of the very only manuscript of Jahiz book on animals that has pictures. (Syria 14th century)

Fish taken out of this book of Jahiz

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From Jahiz's Kitab al-Hayawan 

(book on animals)

Taken from Alwaraq


It is surprising that as they emerge from the division of the natures of men, to the natures of women, They do not display infertility, I have seen none of the Bedouins quietly disappearing, waiting for a flowing womb, and I saw several bisexual men, I saw that in the most traditional Zanj, and some saw it in a Kurdish woman, I have not seen shrunken testicles, I have not heard of it; I do not know how to do it and I do not know what is objectionable, If this were the case, they should have been for many years.


Its Persian name is ushturgavpalang. Ushtur means camel (ba’ir), gav means cow, and palang hyena….. Persians often give that sort of names to animals on the basis of their similarity to other animals. They call the ostrich, for instance, ushturmurgh, camel-bird and the buffalo gavmash, cow-goat). This does not mean for us that the ostrich is a crossbreed of camel and bird.... But people ventured to come up with the following story to explain the Persian name of the giraffe and giving it a composite nature: the male hyena (dhaykh) in those countries happens upon a female wild camel and mounts her. If she produces young, the young will be something between a camel and a hyena If the young is female and is mounted by a wild bull, the result is a giraffe. The same happens if the young is male and mounts a wild cow (maha, which is more often used for the oryx antelope). Some people absolutely deny the possibility that a female giraffe could be impregnated by a male giraffe: they say that every giraffe on earth is brought forth in the way they have thought up, and they claim that this is well known in Abyssinia and the outskirts of Yemen. Others say that it is not true that crossbreeds do not procreate... People of this kind corrupt science and do not care about books. What leads them astray is the large number of followers that are eager to hear strange and curious things. If only these people received some sound information together with these curious stories, much corruption in books could be avoided.


Respond to what they claimed in the giraffe

Abu Wattala, and he lied to Umm Ja`far, when he says what is told of the giraffe, he lied to the dead and cited the unseen wise, the owner of the giraffe has used some of this trick,……he said in the giraffe that they made the installation of his name as evidence of the composition of its creation, …….


And the saliva cleans the mouth….and the greatest amount of saliva being in this respect is the dog as compared with other animals…..It is also said that among the people the best are the Zanj, even if they do not clean or brush.


 (in a discussion about dogs)

Fakhhar of the tribe of the Zanjia said: the Zinj are in two classes, the tribes of Zinj are of two types: the ants and the dogs, this tribe are the dogs, and that tribe are the ants, they pride themselves often in that, and the pride is intense, and these two names are what they gave to themselves and nobody else gave them.


The pigeon

The type gallinaces (dajaj) has varieties but they are all the same type anyhow. Like the dindon (dik hindi) the khilasi (crossing a gallinace of India with a Persian) and the nabateen. The chicken of Sind, the one from Zanji.


The colors of crows

It is however very dark black burning, and they are like a man of Zanj, they are bad people, and the worst of creation and temprament, those of this country have been cooked by the womb, or heated and burned by the womb. The minds of the people of Babylon and its territory are above their minds, and their beauty above the average beauty.

And the crow is so much burned, he has no knowledge or beauty, or it may be spotted so that its composition is different, its parts are proof of corruption, the birthmarks are black and weak.


When the pigeons become black then that is a burning and going over maturity. The black pigeons under the people are the Zang. The sun has burnt their hair; so that it contracts. When you put a hair in the fire; it curls, as you go closer, it curls more, till the fire finishes it.


The migrating fish at Basra.

We at Basra know the months in which those migratory fish come our place. They come to our shores twice a year. In one of those two periods we see that they are fatter. Each type stays two to three months with us; when that period comes to an end and the cycle has finished, another one starts. This way the people of Basra see the whole year through, in winter and in summer, spring and autumn, one variety after the other. In the meantime the Usbur (kind of fish) come to us after leaving the country of the Zanj, searching the sweet water of the Tigre at Basra. All the Zanj and the sailors know this.

But it is wrong if people claim that China is far, because the sea of Zinj is one deep hole and wide, and gigantic waves, therefore the sea wind blowing from Oman to the hand of Zinj for two months, and wind blowing from the land of Zinj to Oman for two months, and varying between soft and intense, but the strong winds prevail, when the sea is deep and the wind strong, the waves big, and the sail not degraded, …..nor do they experience fear, and the days for going to Zinj are less.


The barastouj

They say that the barastouj have the habit to go through the waves, through the whole sea, to arrive in Basra after leaving the land of Zanj. Those who escape the fishermen go back to the place they came from back in the sea they left, swimming this way a distance several times the distance separating Basra from their feeding place. One can only fish these fish during their migration to Basra, or on their way back because in between you will not find any fish in the sea.


Like the ants

He said: ants are part of proverbs, like: They came like ants. The Negroes are two types: one is proud of their number, and they are called the ants, and other are proud of their patience, and they are called the dogs, …


A second group (of scientists) keeps to a different theses. They don't deny that atmospheric conditions can when deteriorating, make a change in the water, and the ground, and after a long time have an influence on the human constitution. This is the case for the Zanj, Saqaliba (slaves) and the land of Gog and Magog (Yajuj wa Majuj).


Fish migration. This is the sea of Basra and Al-Ubllt, the fish al'usbur (or asbwr) (seabream-sparidae family) comes to them every year for three months, they (the fishermen) know the time of his coming and wait for him, and know the time of his break and the coming of others, they do not stay when there is little fish to come from the sea, at that time, they are still fishing them for three months of the year, and so on every year twice for each race, It is known to them when it is in one of the two times.

The most beautiful, which is the al-juwaf, then comes the al-usbur, on the account of the coming of the usbur and the juwaf, as for usbur, he will be taken from the land of Zinj, this is known to the sailors, and that the usbur at the time it is at the Tigris at Basra, he is not in Zinj, and while in Zinj he is not in the Tigris. Perhaps they were fishing on its path when there was nothing till it was known when was the time of their return.


In the same way they reason (meaning that you see change after one year) for fever in Khaiber, the spleen (becoming bigger) in Bahrein and scabies in Zanj…


Youssef the Zanj told me that all those passing over the borders of Iraq, and enter the land of the Zanj, always catch scabies, and keep suffering from it till they leave. And all those who drink to much nabidh or narguile will get mentally confused, suffer from hallucinations which will make them nearly crazy.


The rule of the system in the relationship of intelligence and race is: The nation that did not mature in the wombs, and violate the colors of their bodies, and the sight of their eyes, and the colors of their sense, missing moderation in their minds and their segments and accordingly be their ethics and the real ethics, as the difference between the unleavened and the fruity, the short and the normal……and the difference between the Slaves and the Zinj.


We might then conclude that the spectrum of communicative capacity runs from the phonetically simple animal languages (such as the qaṭa bird or the goat, that only say qaṭa  or ma) up through more phonetically complex animal languages (such as that of cats) to simple human languages (Zanji, which can be learned in a month) and more complex human languages (he gives the example of Khuzi).


Somebody whose arguments I do not ignore told me that Satyriasis is found in cats, pigs, and donkeys. And it is put by one of those speculative theologians (ahl an-nazar), that the Zang in every respect resemble the donkey resemble and also the Satyriasis have. And really there is on the whole earth not one Zang who does not has Satyriasis.


The skin of the he-goats and the skin in the armpits of the Zang stink of sweat. The rest (with the Zang ) is normal (salim), where the he-goats stink completely.


The giraffe is one of the animals noted for their amazing composition, like the peacock, the pheasant and the ostrich .…..animals that have nothing but beauty such as the peacock, the pheasant, and the giraffe, which has as its only asset its elegant appearance and its strange way of procreation.


Attracting the elephant to the lion

And India owners tigers and horses, and Nubia owners of giraffes without other nations, and the people of Ghanah, their clothes are of the skins of leopards due to the large number of leopards, but they are found in many countries……


Snakes and scorpions each differ in many ways but this does not disqualify them from being scorpions and snakes.  The same is true of dogs and corvids.   You have only to consider the distinction between people (ḥasbuka tafawut ma bayn al-nas), as between Africans and Slavs (al-zanj walṣaqaliba) for example, in their hair and their color, or like Gog and Magog, or ‘Ad and Thamud, or like the Canaanites and the Amalekites.   For the sheep (ḍa’ina) and the goat (ma’iza)  differ so greatly that they do not copulate or procreate.  Thus they are known collectively as ghanam (goats) and sha’ (sheep).


Like the Negroes, God gave them - - Good and long speeches


As for what is mentioned of the Zang in their lengthy sermons, they are in their country and at their impurity, but their meanings do not rise from the fate of the animals but from what has never been told to them.


Jarir said: Between Tim and Ishmael of Nashab - - they are linked like the Zinj and the Romans.


The giraffe only occurs in Nubia. The Persians call it ushturgavpalang, which is like saying camel-cow-panther, for ushtur means camel (ba’ir), gav means cow (baqar) and palang means panther (namir). They say that the giraffe is the young of a female panther and a camel. If they just suggested that a camel could mount a hyena (dabu) or a some animal with hooves it would not be unlikely, for mating between such animals occurs. Only they would have done better in that case to make it a male panther and a female camel, for that would have been easier to imagine. But not every male that mounts a female also impregnates her. Many men have sex with beasts out of sheer lust, and herdsmen are well known to have sex with sheep and goats. But no impregnation results from that.


One should imagine the various problems involved in producing such a crossbreed: first, the unlikely event that a male beast (i.e. a grazing animal, dabba) should feel lust for a female beast of prey (sabu), and one of the fiercest at that. Secondly, that it is unlikely that this beast of prey should conceive from the union. And thirdly: even if this should happen, there is the problem that the young of a camel would not fit into the womb of a panther. They may say that the panthers there are very big and the camels small, and that after all the young of Bactrian camels fit into the wombs of Arabian camels, so why would this not be possible in the case of [male] camel and female panther? Then they say that in the upper regions of Nubia numerous beasts of prey, wild animals and beasts come together in the heat of summer at watering places and mate with each other, and what is impregnated is impregnated, and what comes to nothing comes to nothing. Animals in all forms, shapes and sizes come forth from this, and the giraffe is one of them.


The giraffe has the muzzle of a camel, the skin of panther, the hooves and horns of a deer (ayyil)n the tail of a gazelle, and the teeth of a cow. If this should be taken to imply that its mother is a camel that successively was mounted by a panther, a gazelle and a deer, that would be wholly nonsensical.


The giraffe has long hind legs (sic) that are bent backwards. Its hind legs have no knee joints, as opposed to its forelegs, which have knee joints, like in all grazing animals. Some say: the spots on the giraffe’s skin are not like those of the panther (namir) at all; he looks more like the tiger (babr). So the panther is not more entitled to this than the cheetah (fahd).


Taken from : Marchands et hommes d'affaires asiatiques dans l'océan Indien et la ….. by Denys Lombard, Jean Aubin


The sea-folk (al-bahriyyun) maintain that in Bilad al-Sufalah there are two birds, one of which appears before ships (from the shore?) come up with them and before the sea makes it possible for them to land at their trading places (matajir) and the bird says: Qurb amad, Approach. So they realize that the time is nigh and the possibility (of making a landfall?) is close at hand. And they say: And at (that time) another bird of a different form comes, and it says: Samaru. This is at the time of the return of those of them who have been away. They call those two species Qurb and Samaru.

Note: Samaruk in Persian means pigeon. Here we have an indication that in Jahiz days the trade on the East African coast was in Persian hands.

A not so old copy of the ostrich of Jahiz