Folio from Aja’ib al-makhluqat (Wonders of Creation) by al-Qazvini; recto: Archangel Gabriel (Jabril); verso: Archangel Michael (Mikayyil)


Author: Muhammad al-Qazvini (ca. 1203-1283)
Historical period(s)
early 15th century
Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper
H x W: 32.7 x 22.4 cm (12 7/8 x 8 13/16 in)
Iraq or Eastern Turkey
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Detached manuscript folio

archangel, Iraq, naskh script, Turkey, 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


Al-Qazwini's Wonders of Creation is an encyclopedic work on the cosmology and geography of the world. The text was composed in thirteenth-century Iraq, and is divided into two main sections that discuss heavenly and earthly bodies. The page on view is from one of the earliest surviving illustrated versions and depicts the archangel Michael, known as Mikael in Arabic. According to al-Qazwini, the angel stands on the overflowing sea of the seventh heaven and is in charge of humans and the presence of wisdom and knowledge in souls. His attendants rule over the entire world and have power over resurrection and generation.

The representation of the archangel, dressed according to fourteenth-century norms, also implies a certain humility and gentleness, thus adding to our understanding of this powerful, heavenly creature.

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

Copyright with museum

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