Damiri - Encyclopedia




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DAMIRI, the common name of Kamal Ud-Din Muhammad Ibn Musa Ud-Damiri (1344-1405), Arabian writer on canon law and natural history, belonged to one of the two towns called Damira near Damietta and spent his life in Egypt. Of the Shafi`ite school of law, he became professor of tradition in the Rukniyya at Cairo, and also at the mosque el-Azhar; in connexion with this work he wrote a commentary on the Minhaj ut-Talibin of Nawawi. He is, however, better known in the history of literature for his Life of Animals (Hayat ul-Hayawan), which treats in alphabetic order of 931 animals mentioned in the Koran, the traditions and the poetical and proverbial literature of the Arabs. The work is a compilation from over Soo prose writers and nearly 200 poets. The correct spelling of the names of the animals is given with an explanation of their meanings. The use of the animals in medicine, their lawfulness or unlawfulness as food, their position in folk-lore are the main subjects treated, while occasionally long irrelevant sections on political history are introduced.

The work exists in three forms. The fullest has been published several times in Egypt; a mediate and a short recension exist in manuscript. Several editions have been made at various times of extracts, among them the poetical one by Suyuti (q.v.), which was translated into Latin by A. Ecchelensis (Paris, 1667). Bochartus in his Hierozoicon (1663) used Damiii's work. There is a translation of the whole into English by Lieutenant-Colonel Jayakar (Bombay, 1906-1908). (G. W. T.)

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