Back to Table of Contents 6
to next page
Mustawfi, Hamd-Allah ibn Abi Bakr Qazvini (1340) Nuzhat al-qulub (The Pleasure of Hearts)
from Qazvin Persia

Left a page from his manuscript. It shows the Nile river.

First part: mineralogy, botany and zoology.

Taken from: The zoological section of the Nuzhatu-l-qulub of Ḥamdullah al-Mustaufi al-Qazwini

Zarafa [the Giraffe] is well known; and its flesh may be eaten, since it is begotten by the camel and the mountain cow. Its neck is like that of the camel, and its skin like that of the leopard, and its four extremities like those of the cow ; its fore-legs are longer than its hind-legs, [but] in the books of the philosophers they say nothing as to the advantage of this.

(The medical uses of the elephant)

If its earwax is given in drink to anybody with his food, he will not go to sleep for a week. If its bile be used as an ointment for three days on a (maculo-ansesthetic) leprous patch, this will disappear. Smelling its fat causes tubercular leprosy. Its bones are ivory, which commands a high price; and the teeth are the best of its bones; and if ivory be tied round a child's neck, it will be safe against epilepsy. The smoke of its bones will make sweet the fruit of a sour tree, and will keep off worms and [other] pests from the land, and will drive mosquitos out of a house; scrapings of ivory scattered on a wound or a burn will bring about a cure. To sleep on an elephant's skin will cure convulsions; and the smoke of its skin will take away piles. If its urine be sprinkled in a house, rats will leave it. The smoke from its dung will cure fever and colic.

Fifth, Bal [the Sperm- Whale] ; whose length is four hundred and five hundred cubits ; a very villainous fish, which lives in the Ethiopian Sea. But God most high has made a small fish of the size of one cubit able to overcome it ; this seizes its flesh with its teeth, and does not let go till it [the bal] dies. Of this kind, too, is a fish of about fifty cubits in length, which eats ambergris and dies therefrom, and so is stranded on the beach ; but the ambergris that they get out of its belly has lost its perfume and is inferior to the ambergris of the sands.

Thirtieth, Minshar ; from its neck to its tail along its back are bony teeth, each two cubits long, more or less ; and it has two heads, each of ten cubits length. Whatever it comes against, it with certainty cuts to pieces ; ships are in great terror of it. It lives in the Ethiopian Sea.

Second part: human psyche.

Third part: on geography.

Taken from: The Geographical part of the Nuzhat al-Qulub composed by Hamd Allah Mustawfi of Qazwin in 740 1340 translated by G. Lestrange


The Nile. Its waters are wholesome and sweet, to the extent that to strangers it seems as though they had been artificially sweetened. Ibn Khurdadbih states that the Nile rises in the Mountains of the Moon, on the further side of the equator. It flows from south to north, and when it reaches this side of the equator, its streams come together to form two Lakes. Leaving these Lakes it passes beside the deserts of the Zanj, and of Abyssinia, and of Nubia, till it reaches the kingdom of Egypt, and here it is greater in size than the Shatt-al-Arab (Euphrates and Tigris Estuary).


The Seven Seas, and the Circumambient Ocean......Third, the Sea of Zang (Zanzi-bar). The island of Waghlah, and others. Fourth, the Western Sea.....

There are many more islands in this Sea (Sea of China), but to name them all would be tedious. Upon them too live numerous strange beasts, such as the Great Frog, the Civet Cat, the Musk Rat, the White Ape, the Great Serpent which can carry off an elephant ; [cr\] the Talking Parrot, the Magpie that whistles so well, Peacocks and Hawks that are white, also Falcons, the Rhinoceros, and the (giant bird called) the Rukh. Further of trees are the great Camphor tree, so immense that it can shade more than one thousand men, the Baqam (Brazil-wood) tree, the Bamboo, the Carob which tastes like the wild gourd, and the Sandal wood.

The Sea of Himyar. This is an arm of the Indian Sea, and it is also known as the Sea of Barbar. Its eastern side is closed by the Indian Sea, to the west lie the lands of Himyar, on the north are the provinces of Barbar and to the south the Mountains of the Moon. This sea is smaller than the two other arms already described of the Indian Sea. Its length going northwards is 160 leagues, and its breadth from east to west is 33 leagues. It contains many islands.

The Third Sea. This is the Sea of Zang, and in form it is like the Indian Sea, but without arms; and it is very stormy, its waves being more huge even than those of the Indian Sea, and these waves are known as the mad waves. Its waters are very dark in color. Qazvini states that from many of the islands here the north pole cannot be seen, which is to be accounted for by their lying south of the equator. In books on cosmogony again, it is stated that, in one of the many islands here, both the poles are visible at once, and hence this island must lie exactly upon the equator. Now in this sea there are 1300 and odd islands. The best known of these is the Island of Waghlah, and Qazvini reports that in this island once every thirty years a star [Arabic] is seen to rise, and if this attains to the zenith, then everything that is in the island burns. The people here therefore, as soon as it becomes apparent that this is going to happen, take their departure from the island, for such time as the calamity may last. Afterwards they return and set to work to remedy the loss sustained.

In this sea too there are many other wonders, and in its waters ambergris in great pieces is found, some of which exceed a thousand (drachms in weight). The sailors break off pieces of this ambergris with pincers and draw them forth. Also in these islands there may be seen ebony trees, and sandal-wood and teak. The other islands in this sea will be found mentioned in books on cosmogony.


Maghrib. In the Suwar-al-Aqalim it is stated that in Maghrib, down near the equator where the wind comes from, there is a desert measuring near 500 leagues across every way, most of which is moving-sand. Here the heat and drought prevent any habitations, and by some account this is named Mafazah-al-Alij (the Wilderness of the Sand-hill)

Note: in Adolf E Jensen; Myth, Mensch Und Umwelt I found a different translation for this: a desert in Sofala of the Zandj ......

In the Jami-al-Hikayat it is related that on one side of this desert there is moving-sand, across which is but a single road, and this road is only open one day in each week, namely on the Saturday. In the middle of these sands stands a city where all the inhabitants are women, and if a man should manage to get there, by the effect of the climate his manhood goes from him, and in a short time he dies. Among these women the act of generation is effected by means of a certain spring, in which when the woman has sat she becomes pregnant and bears a daughter. For if at any time a boy is born, he dies in childhood.


Hind. This comprises many kingdoms by land and (numerous islands of the) sea. They have mostly a hot climate, and by reason of the broad area occupied by all these, it is said that India covers one sixth of the habitable earth. In this work we can only name a few of the most celebrated places here, and as it is well known, the number of people and troops in those kingdoms is quite beyond count. Its greatest city is Delhi in the Second Clime, this being now the capital of the Sultan. A city of almost equal size is Duwirqir (Dawlatabad) of the Second Clime. Then there is Zaytun and Ceylon of the First Clime; also Sumnath and Qanawj of the Second Clime; Cambay and Gujarat, Murgh and Mah likewise of the Second Clime. Next come Coromandel (Ma'bar), Maqdashu, Malabar, Talang and Qal'ah, this city lying on the frontier of China, where there are the famous tin smithereens, for which reason tin is often called Qala'i. Lastly come Arur and Tanah, with other celebrated towns and districts, beyond count or compare. Now many, as for instance Malabar, Gujarat and Cambay have each of them 70,000 villages, together with very many dependencies belonging to them.

Note: We have here a very important paragraph; Mogadishu is considered part of India. He is not the only Muslim author to do so. On the chances that this is true click here.

Worldmaps in this ms:

The map right is a translation of the relevant part of the left one.
Please note the special idea that the author had of Africa. It is cut in the middle with the Maghrib and the Zang in
one half while the gebel al Kamar (Mountains of the moon) are in the other half.

The map on top and its translation are taken from a different manuscript then the previous one.

On top all maps from Qazvini but under similar maps out of other works (newer)

Note: Yu Ji: Jingshi Dadian (Statecraft ceremony)(1331)


Taken from: Emil Bretschneider: Mediaeval Researches from East Asian

Sources: Fragments towards the Knowledge of the Geography and

History of Central Asia and Western Asia….


The original got lost only a copy in : Wei Yuan 魏源 in 1842 is left.

the map is strikingly similar to one of the maps of Hamdallah Mustafi, dated to around 1330

(though known only from a 16th-century copy)