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ʿAbd Al-Laṭīf Al-Baghdādī’s Kitāb Al-Ḥayawān: A Chimaera?

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Chapter Summary

Medieval Islamic physicians were by the very nature of their work interested in zoology, and the colorful and learned scholar and physician ʿAbd Al-Laṭīf Al-Baghdādī (d. 629/1231) is no exception. This chapter presents descriptions of the chicken, remarkable for the extensive description of the consummate craft of artificial hatching; of the donkeys, the cows, and the horses particular to Egypt; of the crocodile, the skink, the hippopotamus, the electric ray and two other types of fish used for consumption, plus the tortoise and a kind of shellfish, the tellin. It analyzes the available information from post-thirteenth-century sources on ʿAbd Al-Laṭīf's zoological writings and sees whether this leads to substantial new results. The chapter examines that a Kitāb al-ḥayawān circulated under the name of ʿAbd Al-Laṭīf, but that very little is known about it, although at first sight there appear to exist a substantial number of quotations.

Keywords: ʿAbd Al-Laṭīf Al-Baghdādī's zoological writings; Kitāb al-ḥayawān; medieval Islamic physicians



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