Folio from Aja’ib al-makhluqat (Wonders of Creation) by al-Qazvini; recto: Constellation al-Dubb al-Akbar or Ursa Major (Greater Bear or Big Dipper), Draco(al-Tinnin); verso: Cepheus (Qifa’us), Bootes (al-‘Awwa’)


Author: Muhammad al-Qazvini (ca. 1203-1283)
Historical period(s)
early 15th century
Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper
H x W (recto bear): 9.9 × 16.6 cm (3 7/8 × 6 9/16 in)
Iraq or Eastern Turkey
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Detached manuscript folio

astronomy, Bootes, Cepheus, constellation, Draco, Iraq, naskh script, star, Turkey, Ursa Major, Wonders of Creation, WWII-era provenance

To 1945
Friedrich Paul Theodor Sarre (1865-1945). [1]

To 1954
Mme. Maria Louise Sarre, Ascona, Switzerland. [2]

From 1954
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Dr. Paul Kempner, New York on behalf of Mme. Maria Louise Sarre, Ascona, Switzerland. [3]


[1] Object file F1954.33-114, undated folder sheet note 2. “The manuscript was originally acquired by Prof. Friedrich Sarre in Algiers”.

[2] Object file F1954.33-114, undated folder sheet note 1. See also Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List after 1920 file, Collections Management Office.

[3] See note 2. See also invoice dated July 22, 1954 and correspondences between Dr. Paul Kempner and the Freer Gallery, dated July 21, 1954; copies in object file.

Previous Owner(s)

Mme. Maria Louise Sarre
Friedrich Paul Theodor Sarre


The Ajaib al-makhluqat wa Gharaib al-mawjudat (Wonders of Creation and Oddities of Existence), was written by al-Qazvini (1202-1283, the qadi (judge) of Wasit and Hilla during the reign of the last Abbasid caliph, al-Mustusim (r. 1241-58). The manuscript is divided into two parts that explore heavenly and terrestrial phenomena. The folio, from one of the first illustrated copies of the manuscript belong to the first part of the text. It depicts Ursa Major, or the Big Dipper, and Draco, the dragon, two of the 21 constellations in the northern hemisphere.

Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum

Related Objects