Trouble dans le genre : le rhinocéros est un oiseau ! Les débuts islamiques de l’anthropozoologie


fr Anthropozoologica 55 (18) - Pages 257-268

Published on 27 November 2020

This article is a part of the thematic issue Appréhender les catégories zoologiques dans les sociétés du passé

Gender trouble: the rhino happens to be a bird! Islamic beginnings of anthropozoology

The Epistle on Animals of the Brethren in Purity (Iḫwān al-ṣafā) classifies the rhino in the bird family. Starting with such a taxonomic incongruity, the present article aims to write the history of the revolution of animal classification in Arabic zoology. Such a paradigm shift was initiated by the Epistles of the Brethren in Purity then accomplished by Ibn Abī al-Ašʿaṯ and consisted in the substitution of eco-biological criteria by an anthropological one. This shift points out the clear consciousness that Man was a leading force of nature, for he became the organizing principle of the animal world.


Karkadan, classification, taxonomy, Arabic zoology, Islamic zoology, Iḫwān al-ṣafā, Epistles of the Brethren in Purity, Ibn Abī al-Ašʿaṯ.

Download full article in PDF format Order a reprint