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The Giraffe in History and Art 


Curator of Anthropology 

9 Plates in Photogravure, 23 Text-figures, and 1 Vignette 

Leaflet 27 




The Anthropological Leaflets of Field Museum are designed to 
give brief, non-technical accounts of some of the more interesting 
beliefs, habits and customs of the races whose life is illustrated 
in the Museum's exhibits. 


1. The Chinese Gateway (Laufer) . . . ... . . $.10 

2. The Philippine Forge Group (Cole) 10 

3. The Japanese Collections (Gunsaulus) 25 

4. New Guinea Masks (Lewis) 25 

5. The Thunder Ceremony of the Pawnee (Linton) . .25 

6. The Sacrifice to the Morning Star by the 

Skidi Pawnee (Linton) 10 

7. Purification of the Sacred Bundles, a Ceremony 

of the Pawnee (Linton) 10 

8. Annual Ceremony of the Pawnee Medicine Men 

(Linton) 10 

9. The Use of Sago in New Guinea (Lewis) 10 

10. Use of Human Skulls and Bones in Tibet (Laufer) .10 

11. The Japanese New Year's Festival, Games and 

Pastimes (Gunsaulus) 25 

12. Japanese Costume (Gunsaulus) 25 

13. Gods and Heroes of Japan (Gunsaulus) 25 

14. Japanese Temples and Houses (Gunsaulus) . . . .25 

15. Use of Tobacco among North American Indians 

(Linton) 25 

16. Use of Tobacco in Mexico and South America 

(Mason) 25 

17. Use of Tobacco in New Guinea (Lewis) 10 

18. Tobacco and Its Use in Asia (Laufer) 25 

19. Introduction of Tobacco into Europe (Laufer) . . .25 

20. The Japanese Sword and Its Decoration . . . 

(Gunsaulus) 25 

21. Ivory in China (Laufer) . . , 75 

22. Insect- Musicians and Cricket Champions of 

China (Laufer) 50 

23. Ostrich Egg-shell Cups of Mesopotamia and the 

Ostrich in Ancient and Modern Times 
(Laufer) 50 

24. The Indian Tribes of the Chicago Region with 

Special Reference to the Illinois and the 
Potawatomi (Strong) 25 

25. Civilization of the Mayas (Thompson) 75 

26. Early History of Man (Field) 25 

27. The Giraffe in History and Art (Laufer) 75 

D. C. DAV1ES, Director 



After Hutchinson, Animals of All Countries. 

Field Museum of Natural History 
Department of Anthropology 

Chicago, 1928 
Leaflet Number 27 

The Giraffe in History and Art 



Giraffes 3 

The Giraffe in Ancient Egypt 15 

Representations of the Giraffe in Africa outside of 

Egypt 26 

The Giraffe among Arabs and Persians 31 

The Giraffe in Chinese Records and Art 41 

The Giraffe in India 55 

The Giraffe among the Ancients 58 

The Giraffe at Constantinople 66 

The Giraffe during the Middle Ages . 70 

The Giraffe in the Age of the Renaissance 79 

The Giraffe in the Nineteenth Century and After .... 88 

Notes 95 

Bibliography 98 

Copyright, 1928. 


Field Museum of Natural History 


In issuing this booklet I wish to express my thanks 
and gratitude to many friends who have aided me with 
photographs and information, above all, to the firm Carl 
Hagenbeck of Stellingen for a number of photographs of 
live giraffes and many useful data, to Professor James H. 
Breasted for photographs of the Nubian rock-carvings 
taken by him and published here for the first time, to 
the Pierpont Morgan Library of New York for the photo- 
graph of the Persian painting, to Mr. A. W. Bahr for the 
loan of the Chinese painting reproduced in Plate IV, and 
to the Art Institute of Chicago for the photograph of the 
cotton print in Plate VI. To Professor Lucy H. Driscoll 
of the University of Chicago I am indebted for references 
to Italian paintings and important literary sources; and 
to Professor M. Sprengling, for kind assistance in the 
translation of Arabic and Persian sources. 

The twenty-five drawings illustrating this essay were 
prepared with great care and skill by the Museum artist, 
Mr. Carl F. Gronemann, who likewise made the wooden 
block for the colored giraffe-head on the cover. 


Giraffes constitute a distinct family 
of ruminants (Giraffidae), natives of 
Africa (Plates I, VII-IX). Owing to 
the extraordinary development of the 
neck and legs, the giraffe is the tallest 
of all mammals, the height of bulls being 
from fifteen to sixteen, according to 
some observers, even from eighteen to 
nineteen* feet, and that of cows from 
sixteen to seventeen feet. Despite its 
great elongation, the neck contains only 
the typical number of seven vertebrae 
as in nearly all mammals, each vertebra itself being elon- 
gated, as every visitor to the Museum may convince him- 
self by viewing the mounted skeleton of a giraffe in Hall 17. 
During the present geological epoch the family is 
strictly confined to Africa, but in former periods of the 
earth it had a much wider extension, and was distributed 
over many parts of Europe and Asia, especially Greece, 
Persia, India, and China, where fossil remains have been 
discovered from the Miocene onward down to the Pleisto- 
cene age. Its maximum development in numbers was 
reached in the Pliocene of Asia. The living species are 
distributed all over Africa south of the Sahara. 

Two species are generally recognized by zoologists, 
each with a number of subspecies or geographic races dis- 
tinguished by variations in the arrangement of the spots, 
especially on the legs and abdomen. The more widely 
distributed species is Giraffa camelopardalis which ranges 
throughout most of central and southern Africa. The 
Reticulated giraffe (Giraffa reticulata) is chestnut-colored 
and covered with a network of white lines (Fig. 1). Its 
distribution is restricted to northeast Africa in Somaliland, 
Abyssinia, and northern Kenya. This species will engage 

Field Museum of Natural History 

our special attention with reference to Persian and Chinese 
pictorial representations of it. 

The existence of the giraffe in the southern part of 
Africa (Giraffa capensis) was first made known by Hop and 


Fig. 1. 

Reticulated Giraffe. 

From a photograph of Carl Hagenbeck. 

Brink's expedition to Great Namaqualand in 1761, who 
found giraffes soon after crossing the Great River and shot 
several. Tulbagh, the Dutch governor of the Cape Colony, 
sent the skin of one of these giraffes to the museum of the 

Giraffes 5 

University of Leiden; it was the first taken to Europe 
from South Africa. A rude sketch of the animal made by 
Hop and Brink was inserted by Buffon in the thirteenth 
volume of his "Histoire naturelle." In South Africa the 
name "giraffe" is practically unknown, and the Dutch 
term "kameel" is always used. 

The body of the giraffe is short, and its shape is pecu- 
liar in that the back slopes gradually downward to the 
rump. The greater height of the fore parts is not owing to 
the greater length of the fore legs which are not much 
longer than the hind legs (the real difference between the 
two amounts to hardly seven inches), but to processes of 
the vertebrae which form a basis for the muscular support 
of the neck and head and make a hump on the shoul- 

The neck of all giraffes bears a short mane extending 
from the occiput to the withers. The hair is short and 
smooth, reddish white, and marked by numerous dark 
rusty spots, which are rhomboid, oval, and even circular 
in shape. The hide is about an inch thick and very tough. 
It is used by the natives of South Africa for making 
sandals and by the Boers to supply whips for the bullock- 
carts, known as sjambok. With the practical disappear- 
ance of the rhinoceros and the approaching extermination 
of the hippopotamus in South Africa, there is a constant 
commercial demand for giraffe-hides, which are worth from 
four to five pounds sterling apiece. As a consequence, 
giraffes are killed in large numbers by Boer and native 
hunters, and may soon be threatened with extinction. 

One of the most beautiful features of the giraffe are 
the eyes, which are dark brown, large and lustrous, full, 
soft, and melting, and shaded by long lashes. The ears 
are long and mobile. The nostrils can be tightly closed at 
will by a curious arrangement of sphincter muscles. This 
is supposed to be a provision of nature against blowing 
sand and thorns of acacias on the leaves of which the 
animal browses. The lips are furnished with a dense 

6 Field Museum of Natural History 

coating of thick velvety hair, probably as a further pro- 
tection against thorns. 

Giraffes of both sexes carry two "horns" upon the 
summit of the head. These are permanent bony protuber- 
ances or processes growing from the skull, and are covered 
with yellowish brown hair, which at the tip becomes black. 
In the skulls of young animals these false horns are easily 
detachable, but in the adult they are firmly attached to the 
bony framework of the head, partly to the frontal and 
partly to the parietal bones. Adults of the Nubian form 
often have a prominent third horn, rising from the centre 
of the forehead, between the eyes, to a height of from 
three to five inches. The "horns," it should be noted, are 
persistent, not deciduous as the antlers of deer. 

The legs are long and slender; the knees are pro- 
tected by thick pads or callosities. The feet have cloven 
hoofs; lateral toes are absent. The end of the tail is pro- 
vided with a long tassel of hair which the animals are in the 
habit of pulling out. The tail is an article much in favor 
with eastern Bantu tribes, and has a value of from ten to 
fifty shillings, while a particularly fine specimen is worth 
up to five pounds sterling. Giraffe-tails, as will be seen, 
are figured on an Egyptian monument, and are presented 
as tribute to Tutenkhamon. 

The dentition of the giraffe is bovine: it has altogether 
thirty-two teeth, six grinders on each side both above and 
below, and eight teeth in the lower jaw, but none in the 
upper one. These lower teeth consist of three incisors, and 
are canine on each side, the canine having a cleft or bilo- 
bate crown. 

Its food consists almost entirely of the leaves and 
tender shoots of mimosa-trees and an acacia (Acacia gi- 
raffae) commonly known as the kameel-dorn. The leaves 
are plucked off one by one by its long extensile and flexible 
tongue, which is thrust far out of the mouth, stretching 
around the leaves and pulling them tight, and then it cuts 
them with the lower canine teeth. The tongue is about 

Giraffes 7 

seventeen inches long and covered with a black pigment. 
The animals feed chiefly in early morning and late evening, 
resting during the heat of the day. They are able to go for 
considerable periods without water, and are found in the 
driest country long distances away from any possible 
drinking-places. The Bushmen even assert that they do 
not drink at all; at any rate, they are singularly 
independent of water. 

The giraffe is a gentle, inoffensive, and defenceless 
creature, and never uses its horns or teeth in self-defence. 
Gibbon, the historian, justly speaks of "camelopards, the 
loftiest and most harmless creatures that wander over the 
plains of Aethiopia." The heels are the animal's only 
weapon, and these may deal a very powerful kick. Carl 
Hagenbeck tells in his memoirs that when he loaded giraffes 
on a steamer at Alexandria bound for Trieste, one of his 
brothers received from a giraffe so energetic a blow against 
his chest that he collapsed and remained unconscious for 
some time. The lion is said to be the giraffe's sole enemy 
and to lie in ambush for it in the thickets by rivers and 
pools. Bryden thinks, however, that lions do not very 
often succeed in killing giraffes, defenceless though they 
may be; and when they do, it is generally a solitary animal 
(individuals of either sex are often seen alone) that has 
been surprised and pulled down by a party of lions. 

The steppe and open bush country are the proper 
home of the giraffe, but occasionally it seeks the forest. 
The animal associates in herds from seven to sixteen indi- 
viduals, though sometimes even larger numbers have been 
observed in a flock. There is usually a single old male 
in these herds, the others being young males and females. 
The oldest males are often found solitary. They are fond 
of company and frequently live in association with zebra, 
antelope, wilde-beest, and ostrich. They are difficult of 
approach, being extremely keen-sighted, and their tower- 
ing height enables them to command a wide view. While 
their senses of both sight and smell are highly developed 

8 Field Museum of Natural History 

and very acute, they have no voice and are totally 

They sleep standing, but some individuals, and in 
some localities all the individuals, habitually lie down to 

The peculiar gait of the giraffe has attracted the at- 
tention of early writers, first of all of Heliodorus (below, 
p. 62). E. Topsell, in his "Historie of Four-footed Beastes" 
(1607), observes, "The pace of this beast differeth from all 
other in the world, for he doth not move his right and left 
foote one after another, but both together, and so likewise 
the other, whereby his whole body is removed at every 
step or straine." 

The giraffe, in its untrammeled native freedom, has 
only two distinct gaits, — the walk and the gallop, not 
three, as in the case of the camel. 

"As may be gathered from observation of menagerie 
specimens, giraffes when walking do not move their fore 
and hind legs of opposite sides like ordinary mammals, but 
the fore and hind leg of the same side, like a camel. They 
have but two paces, a walk and a gallop, breaking at once 
from one into the other, as I was once fortunate enough to 
observe in a continental Zoo" (G. Renshaw). 

W. Maxwell, who has taken excellent photographs of 
galloping giraffes from a pursuing motor-car, writes, "The 
giraffe, in its native surroundings, is one of the most cher- 
ished objects to the nature photographer and the camera 
sportsman alike. To photograph these animals by stalking 
up to them in open bush country, which is their usual habi- 
tat, requires skilful tactics." In his book "Stalking Big 
Game with a Camera" he has reproduced the gallop of the 
giraffe in three stages. "The speed at which the giraffe 
can travel when driven to its utmost," he says, "varies 
between twenty-eight and thirty-two miles an hour for 
distances of a couple of miles or so, and is about as much 
as a car can perform at a breakneck speed for this kind of 
country. The speed of the giraffe varies, naturally, accord- 

Giraffes 9 

ing to the age and condition of the animal." The young 
calves are said to be wonderfully fleet and far more nimble 
than the adult animals. The giraffe, accordingly, is not 
easily overtaken by a fleet horse, and is game that taxes 
the skill of experienced sportsmen. Francis Galton (Nar- 
rative of an Explorer in Tropical South Africa in 1851) 
informs us, "Giraffes are wonderful climbers: kudus are 
the best; but I think that giraffes come next to them, even 
before the zebras/' 

The following graphic account of giraffe stalking, 
which simultaneously presents a good picture of the ani- 
mal's life-habits, is given by Sir Samuel W. Baker (The 
Nile Tributaries of Abyssinia, 1886) : — 

"For many days past we have seen large herds of gi- 
raffes and many antelopes on the opposite side of the river, 
about two miles distant, on the borders of the Atbara, into 
which valley the giraffes apparently dared not descend, but 
remained on the table-land, although the antelopes ap- 
peared to prefer the harder soil of the valley slopes. This 
day a herd of twenty-eight giraffes tantalized me by des- 
cending a short distance below the level flats, and I was 
tempted at all hazards across the river. Accordingly pre- 
parations were immediately made for a start . . . The Arabs 
were full of mettle, as their minds were fixed upon giraffe 

"I had observed by the telescope that the giraffes 
were standing as usual upon an elevated position, from 
whence they could keep a good lookout. I knew it would 
be useless to ascend the slope direct, as their long necks 
give these animals an advantage similar to that of the man 
at the mast-head; therefore, although we had the wind in 
our favor, we should have been observed. I therefore 
determined to make a great circuit of about five miles, and 
thus to approach them from above, with the advantage of 
the broken ground for stalking. It was the perfection of 
uneven country: by clambering broken cliffs, wading shoul- 
der-deep through muddy gullies, sliding down the steep 

10 Field Museum op Natural History 

ravines, and winding through narrow bottoms of high 
grass and mimosas for about two hours, we at length ar- 
rived at the point of the high table-land upon the verge of 
which I had first noticed the giraffes with a telescope. 
Almost immediately I distinguished the tall neck of one of 
these splendid animals about a half a mile distant upon my 
left, a little below the table-land; it was feeding on the 
bushes, and I quickly discovered several others near the 
leader of the herd. I was not far enough advanced in the 
circuit that I had intended to bring me exactly above them, 
therefore I turned sharp to my right, intending to make a 
short half circle, and to arrive on the leeward side of the 
herd, as I was now to windward: this I fortunately com- 
pleted, but I had marked a thick bush as my point of 
cover, and upon my arrival I found that the herd had fed 
down wind, and that I was within two hundred yards of 
the great bull sentinel that, having moved from his former 
position, was now standing directly before me. I lay down 
quietly behind the bush with my two followers, and anxious- 
ly watched the great leader, momentarily expecting that 
it would get my wind. It was shortly joined by two 
others, and I perceived the heads of several giraffes lower 
down the incline, that were now feeding on their way to 
the higher ground. The seroot fly was teasing them, and I 
remarked that several birds were fluttering about their 
heads, sometimes perching upon their noses and catching 
the fly that attacked their nostrils, while the giraffe ap- 
peared relieved by their attentions: these were a peculiar 
species of bird that attacks the domestic animals, and not 
only relieves them of vermin, but eats into the flesh, and 
establishes dangerous sores. A puff of wind now gently 
faned the back of my neck; it was cool and delightful, but 
no sooner did I feel the refreshing breeze than I knew it 
would convey our scent direct to the giraffes. A few sec- 
onds afterwards, the three grand obelisks threw their heads 
still higher in the air, and fixing their great black eyes upon 
the spot from which the danger came, they remained as 

Giraffes 11 

motionless as though carved from stone. From their great 
height they could see over the bush behind which we were 
lying at some paces distant, and although I do not think 
they could distinguish us to be men, they could see enough 
to convince them of hidden enemies. 

"The attitude of fixed attention and surprise of the 
three giraffes was sufficient warning for the rest of the herd, 
who immediately filed up from the lower ground, and 
joined their comrades. All now halted, and gazed stead- 
fastly in our direction, forming a superb tableau; their 
beautiful mottled skins glancing like the summer coat of 
a thoroughbred horse, the orange-colored statues standing 
out in high relief from a background of dark-green mimosas. 

"This beautiful picture soon changed. I knew that my 
chance of a close shot was hopeless, as they would pre- 
sently make a rush, and be off; thus I determined to get 
the first start. I had previously studied the ground, and I 
concluded that they would push forward at right angles 
with my position, as they had thus ascended the hill, and 
that, on reaching the higher ground, they would turn to 
the right, in order to reach an immense tract of high grass, 
as level as a billiard-table, from which no danger could 
approach them unobserved. 

"I accordingly with a gentle movement of my hand 
directed my people to follow me, and I made a sudden rush 
forward at full speed. Off went the herd ; shambling along 
at a tremendous pace, whisking their long tails above their 
hind quarters, and taking exactly the direction I had anti- 
cipated, they offered me a shoulder shot at a little within 
two hundred yards' distance. Unfortunately, I fell into a 
deep hole concealed by the high grass, and by the time that 
I resumed the hunt they had increased their distance, but 
I observed the leader turned sharp to the right, through 
some low mimosa bush, to make direct for the open table- 
land. I made a short cut obliquely at my best speed, and 
only halted when I saw that I should lose ground by alter- 
ing my position. Stopping short, I was exactly opposite 

12 Field Museum of Natural History 

the herd as they filed by me at right angles in full speed, 
within about a hundred and eighty yards. I had my old 
Ceylon No. 10 double rifle, and I took a steady shot at a 
large dark-colored bull: the satisfactory sound of the ball 
upon his hide was followed almost immediately by his 
blundering forward for about twenty yards, and falling 
heavily in the low bush. I heard the crack of the ball of my 
left-hand barrel upon another fine beast, but no effect fol- 
lowed. Bacheet quickly gave me the single 2-ounce 
Manton rifle, and I singled out a fine dark-colored bull, who 
fell upon his knees to the shot, but recovering, hobbled off 
disabled, apart from the herd, with a foreleg broken just 
below the shoulder. Reloading immediately, I ran up to 
the spot, where I found my first giraffe lying dead, with 
the ball clean through both shoulders: the second was stand- 
ing about one hundred paces distant; upon my approach 
he attempted to move, but immediately fell, and was dis- 
patched by my eager Arabs. I followed the herd for about 
a mile to no purpose, through deep clammy ground and 
high grass, and I returned to our game. 

"These were my first giraffes, and I admired them as 
they lay before me with a hunter's pride and satisfaction, but 
mingled with a feeling of pity for such beautiful and utterly 
helpless creatures. The giraffe, although from sixteen to 
twenty feet in height, is perfectly defenceless, and can 
only trust to the swiftness of its pace, and the extraordi- 
nary power of vision, for its means of protection. The eye 
of this animal is the most beautiful exaggeration of that 
of the gazelle, while the color of the reddish-orange hide, 
mottled with darker spots, changes the tints of the skin 
with the differing rays of light, according to the muscular 
movement of the body. No one who has merely seen the 
giraffe in a cold climate can form the least idea of its 
beauty in its native land." 

K. Moebius, author of a work on the esthetics of the 
animal kingdom (Aesthetik der Tierwelt, 1908), maintains 
that the giraffe is regarded as ugly by the majority of 

Giraffes 18 

people on account of its disproportionate members, but 
concedes that it makes a deep esthetic impression when it 
lifts its long neck straight above its massive chest, calmly 
looking downward or gazing into the distance with its 
large, black, long-lashed eyes; its form and color, in his 
estimation, are well adapted to the character of its habitat, 
yet it conveys to most people the impression of an ugly 
animal; in his opinion, it is an evident example of the fact 
that suitable organization does not render animals beauti- 
ful, but that besides it they must have other qualities to be 
pleasing. Aside from the fact that there is nothing ugly in 
nature and that "foul and fair" are relative notions much 
depending on our moods and point of view, the giraffe can- 
not be judged from menagerie specimens to which the im- 
pressions of most of us are confined. The free denizen of 
the wide, open arid plains of Africa will naturally forfeit its 
best qualities in the narrow enclosures of our animal prison 
camps. The giraffe must be observed in the freedom of its 
native haunts. Sir Samuel W. Baker writes, "No one who 
has merely seen the giraffe in a cold climate can form the 
least idea of its beauty in its native land." 

"The spectacle of a troop of wild giraffe," Bryden 
writes, "is certainly one of the most wonderful things in 
nature. The uncommon shape, the great height, the long, 
slouching stride, the slender necks, reaching hither and 
thither among the spreading leafage of the camel-thorn 
trees, the rich coloring of the animal — all these things com- 
bine to render the first meeting with the giraffe in their 
native haunts one of the most striking and memorable of 
experiences." He further characterizes them as strangely 
beautiful, grotesquely graceful creatures and withal so 
harmless. Marco Polo, who was a keen observer and pos- 
sessed of sound judgement in most matters, calls them 
"beautiful creatures to look at," and I think he is right. 

In perusing the historical sketches to follow the reader 
should bear in mind that all early descriptions and il- 
lustrations of the giraffe (with the sole exception of the 

14 Field Museum of Natural History 

Nubian and Bushmen petroglyphs in Figs. 5 and 10) are 
based on observation of more or less tame animals who were 
taken while young and reared in captivity. The study of 
the wild giraffe in its natural surroundings is of compara- 
tively recent date and due to the vast progress of zoological 
science and animal photography. We must remain con- 
scious of this distinction between the past and the present, 
for it has been observed that giraffes in the wild state are 
in many respects superior, much deeper and richer in color- 
ing than those in captivity, are better nourished, stronger 
and considerably heavier than those bred in confinement; 
and Bryden is even inclined to think that there is a greater 
difference between wild and captive examples of giraffes 
than in any other animals. 

It is not without interest to pass in review the role 
which so curious a creature has played in its relation to 
mankind, to record the impressions which it has left on 
past generations, and to study the question as to how the 
artists of all ages acquitted themselves of the task to render 
it justice in portraiture. The Bushmen and the ancient 
Egyptians, the Persians as well as the Chinese, the ancient 
Romans as well as the Italian painters of the Renaissance 
and other European artists furnish interesting contribu- 
tions to this question, and it has seemed to me worth while 
to place their work here on record. Ever since in 1908 I 
obtained in China the Chinese painting of a giraffe, my 
interest in this subject has been aroused, and it was a 
pleasant, though not always easy task embodying a great 
deal of intense research to trace the vicissitudes of the 
giraffe through all lands and ages down to modern 
times. This essay is an attempt at a biography and icono- 
graphy of the giraffe and endeavors to assemble all impor- 
tant historical data that have become known in whatever 
countries it made its appearance. 


The giraffe is one of the animals which appears to 
have been known to the Egyptians from times of earliest 
antiquity. A pictographic sign for the animal appears in 
hieroglyphic writing (see Fig. 9 on right side), and is parti- 
cularly employed to denote the verb "to dispose, to 
arrange." The old word for the giraffe is sr (the vowels of 
Egyptian are unknown) which Brugsch connects with a 
Hebrew root and explains from the constantly swinging 
motion of the animal's body when at rest. It seems more 
likely that this word bears some relation to Ethiopic zarat 
(compare Arabic zarafa), or may even be derived from the 
latter. The later Egyptian term for the giraffe is mmy. 

While there is apparently no written account of the gi- 
raffe preserved, presumably because it did not rank among 
sacred animals, we receive from the monuments of Egypt 
and Nubia the earliest sculptured and pictorial representa- 
tions of giraffes which belong to the best known in the 
history of art. Moreover, the Egyptians show us also how 
the interesting figure of the giraffe may be utilized for the 
purposes of decorative art. 

In the earliest prehistoric period of Egyptian civiliza- 
tion, animal life was much more plentiful in the unsubdued 
jungles of Egypt than in later times and at present. The 
great quantity of ivory employed by the people and the 
representations upon their pottery show that the elephant 
was still living in their midst; likewise the giraffe, the hip- 
popotamus, and the strange okapi, which was deified as 
the god Set, wandered through the jungles, though all these 
animals were extinct in the historical period (Breasted, 
History of Egypt, p. 30). The animal represented by Set 
is identified by Schweinfurth with the African ant-bear 
(Orycteropus aethiopicus) . 

In this primitive epoch giraffes were used as a deco- 
rative motives on various objects. Giraffes are possibly 



Field Museum of Natural History 

intended in the handles of ivory combs (Fig. 2) ; there are 
other such combs surmounted by figures of antelopes. A 
giraffe is clearly outlined on the surface of a painted vase 
(Fig. 3), and possibly also appears as a mark on pottery 
(Capart, Primitive Art in Egypt, p. 140). 

Fig. 2. 

Ivory Combs with Figures of Giraffes. Ancient Egypt. 

After Capart. 

Fig. 4 represents an archaic slate palette carved in re- 
lief, from Hieraconpolis, showing the trunk of a palm-tree 
in the middle and two giraffes standing one on each side of 
it, apparently browsing. F. Legge, who published a similar 
slate only the lower part of which is preserved, showing the 
body and legs of two giraffes (Proceedings Society of Bibli- 
cal Archaeology, 1900, Plate VI), concludes that the scene 
depicted is taking place in Upper Egypt or rather in the 
Sudan, the giraffe not being found above the fifteenth de- 




From a Persian Bestiary of the Thirteenth Century in the Pierpont Morgan 

Library, New York- 

The Giraffe in Ancient Egypt 


gree of latitude. The four dogs around the plaque are 
defined by B6n6dite as Molossian hounds. 

On an expedition to Lower Nubia in 1906 Professor 
Breasted heard a report current among the natives that 
there is an unknown temple far out in the desert behind Abu 
Simbel. Various explorers had examined the neighboring 

Fig. 8. 

Vase with Painting of Giraffe. Ancient Egypt. 

After Capart. 

desert in the hope of finding it, but were unsuccessful. Ac- 
companied by a native who assured him that he had 
located this temple, Professor Breasted struck out into the 
desert. After a two hours' journey his guide pointed to 
what looked much like a distant building rising out of the 
sand in the north. "As we drew near," he writes (Ameri- 


Field Museum of Natural History 

can Journal of Semitic Languages, 1906, p. 35), the sup- 
posed building resolved itself into an isolated crag of rock 
projecting from the sand, and pierced by two openings 

Fig. 4. 
Two Giraffes Facing a Palm-tree on a Slate Palette. Ancient Egypt. 
After Capart. 

which passed completely through it, so that the desert 
hills on the far horizon were clearly visible through them. 

The Giraffe in Ancient Egypt 


One of these openings very much resembles a door, and, to 
complete the delusion, it bears on one side a number of 
prehistoric drawings — two boats, two giraffes, two os- 
triches, and a number of smaller animals — which might be 
easily mistaken by a native for hieroglyphic writing. There 
can be no doubt that this curious natural formation and 
the archaic drawings upon it are the source of the fabled 
temple in the desert behind Abu Simbel." 

Professor Breasted very kindly placed at my disposal 
two photographs of these rock-carvings taken by him, from 

Fig. 6. 

Prehistoric Rock-carvings of Giraffes. Lower Nubia. 

From photographs by Professor Breasted. 

which the giraffes in Fig. 5 have been drawn. These, in all 
probability, are the oldest representations of giraffes in the 
world, and by their clever obversation of motion also rank 
among the best ever made. They are the spontaneous pro- 
ductions of a primitive artist with a keen eye for observa- 
tion and possessed of great power of expression. 

Under the fifth dynasty (2750-2625 B. C.) Sahure con- 
tinued the development of Egypt as the earliest known 
naval power in history. He dispatched a fleet on a voyage 


Field Museum of Natural History 

to Punt, as the Egyptians called the Somali coast at the 
south end of the Red Sea, and along the south side of the 
Gulf of Aden. From that region, which, like the whole 
east, he termed the God's Land, he obtained the fragrant 
gums and resins so much desired for incense and ointments. 
One of the most important events of the reign of 
Queen Hatshepsut (eighteenth dynasty, about 1501-1480 
B. C.) was a naval expedition to the land of Punt with the 
object to establish commercial relations with peoples of 

Fig. 6. 
Giraffe from a Punt Scene at Der el-Bahri. 
From a photograph. 

what is now the Somali coast. A sculptured record of this 
peaceful expedition is preserved on the southern half of the 
wall stretching behind the middle colonnade of her temple 
at Der el-Bahri situated on the west side of the river at 
Thebes. In this procession the giraffe is well represented 
(Fig. 6), unfortunately mutilated; but even without its 
head it is a magnificent work of art, body and legs being 
exceedingly well modeled. According to E. Naville (The 
Temple of Deir El Bahari, p. 21. Egypt Exploration Fund, 

The Giraffe in Ancient Egypt 


XII, 1894), the giraffe is said to come from the country 
Khenthennofer, not from the coast. This region is gener- 
ally distinguished from Punt; the two countries, however, 
were contiguous, but of somewhat wide and indefinite ex- 
tent, Punt possessing a coast where vessels could land, 
while Khenthennofer was located in the mountainous in- 
terior. The two countries had a mixed population which 
included Negroes, and their products were almost identical. 
Ivory, live panthers, panther-skins, monkeys, gold, ebony, 

Fig. 7. 
Giraffe from the Presentation of Tribute to Tutenkhamon. 
After Nina de Garis Daviea. 

and antimony were common to both. All these products 
being typically African, it is evident that Queen Hatshep- 
sut's expedition had been directed to the east coast of 
Africa. Wealthy Egyptians were fond of keeping live speci- 
mens of the fauna of Punt like dogs, monkeys, panthers, 
leopards, and giraffes. 

The illustration in Fig 7, showing a walking giraffe 
guided by a Nubian, forms part of the Presentation of 
Tribute to Tutenkhamon, depicted on the walls of the 
tomb of Huy, viceroy of Nubia under the reign of Tuten- 
khamon (compare Nina de Garis Davies and A. H. Gardi- 


Field Museum of Natural History 

ner, The Tomb of Huy, in The Theban Tombs Series, 
London, 1926). This tomb is situated high up on the east- 
ern slope of the hill known as Kurnet Murrai which rises 
from the plain at a little distance north of Medinet Habu. 
On the west wall of the tomb are depicted scenes of Huy 
bringing the tribute of Nubia to the Pharaoh. Huy ap- 
proaches the royal presence from the south, holding in his 


■ k.dl.4. _**_!' 

Fig. 8. 

Giraffes under Palm-trees from the Presentation of Tribute to Tutenkhamon. 

After Nina de Garis Davie*. 

left hand a crooked staff betokening his viceregal authority, 
and with the right waving the ostrich-feather fan which 
was his Derogative as "fan-bearer at the right of the king." 
Tutenkhamon sits in state under his baldachin. Immedi- 
ately behind the figure of Huy are shown choice samples of 
Nubian tribute. Gold in rings and "gold tied up" in bags 
are there, together with dishes of carnelian or red jasper 

The Giraffe in Ancient Egypt 23 

and of a green mineral. There are tusks of white ivory and 
jet-black logs of ebony. A model chariot of gold is sup- 
ported by an attendant Negro, perhaps of ebony, on a gold 
pedestal. Under the chariot appears to be a golden shrine. 
Heraldically arranged palm-trees, with monkeys climbing 
in their branches and giraffes nibbling at their leaves are 
shown in another scene (Fig. 8), together with kneeling 
Negroes in an attitude of adoration and with others hold- 
ing cords attached to the necks of the giraffes. This scene 
is remarkable for its grace and exquisite realism. There are 
also Nubians carrying gold, skins, and giraffes' tails (the 
latter being painted black). Giraffes' tails are highly 
prized from Kordofan to Uganda (see above, p. 6 and 
below, p. 87). In an Egyptian story they figure among the 
presents given to a ship-wrecked sailor by his kindly host, 
the giant serpent. 

The walking giraffe amid the tribute-bearers (Fig. 7) 
is a very young bull of the Nubian variety. It is light pink- 
ish brown in color, with a few markings on the neck. The 
immaturity of the animal is denoted by the very slight 
development of the median horn. 

The temples of Nubia contain many references to the 
Nubian wars of Ramses II (1292-25 B. C). Among the 
scenes cut on the rock side-walls of the excavated forecourt 
of the Bet el-Walli temple there is one portraying Ramses 
enthroned on the right; approaching from the left are two 
longlinesof Negroes, bringing furniture of ebony and ivory, 
panther-hides, gold in large rings, bows, myrrh, shields, 
elephants' tusks, billets of ebony, ostrich feathers, ostrich 
eggs, live animals including monkeys, panthers, a giraffe, 
ibexes, a dog, oxen with curved horns, and an ostrich 
(Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Vol. Ill, p. 203). 
The giraffe in this rock-carving is of naturalistic style, but 
is not quite so accurate and true to nature as in other 
Egyptian monuments. It is reproduced by Professor 
Breasted in American Journal of Semitic Languages 
(Vol. XXIII, 1906, p. 62). 


Field Museum op Natural History 

Fig. 9, illustrating a giraffe with a monkey on its back, 
is from the tomb of Amunezeh (eighteenth dynasty) at 
Shekh Abd el-Gurna (compare Max W. Muller, Egypto- 
logical Researches, Vol. II, Carnegie Institution of Wash- 
ington, 1910, p. 52 and colored reproductions in Plate 31). 
This is also from a series of wall-paintings representing 

Fig. 9. 

Giraffe with Baboon from the Tomb of Amunezeh. 

After W. Max MUtler. 

tributes of the Nubians. The color of the animal is almost 
brown dotted with black spots. The hoofs are blue (in- 
tended for black). The monkey, probably a baboon, is 
green-blue with a red face and exaggerated long tail. The 
uplifted hand of the leader must have held a rope tied to 
the baboon, and he guides the giraffe by a rope fastened 

The Giraffe in Ancient Egypt 25 

to its right fore leg. To the right of the animal the hiero- 
glyph for the giraffe is added. 

Two small green-glazed figurines of the Saitic or Ptole- 
maic epoch have been published and described by G. 
Daressy (Deux figurations de giraffe, Annales du Service 
des Antiquity de l'Egypte, Cairo, Vol. VII, 1906, pp. GI- 
GS, 2 figs.). These represent figures of a headless man with 
what is explained as a giraffe crouching beside him. It is 
difficult, however, to recognize giraffes in these animals, as 
far as the illustrations published in the article are con- 
cerned. Crouching giraffes are not known from Egyptian 
monuments, and no clay figures of giraffes have become 
known from the Ptolemaic and Graeco-Roman periods. 

Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-247 B.C.) showed a live 
giraffe to the inhabitants of Alexandria in his triumphal 
procession through this city. In all periods of history 
Egypt continued to be the great distributing centre for 
giraffes, as will be seen in the chapters to follow. It sup- 
plied them to the Romans, the emperors of Byzance, the 
Arab Caliphs, to Spain and Italy in the middle ages, and 
to Italy, France, and England in more recent times. 


We made the acquaintance of the Bushmen as ostrich - 
hunters and artists depicting the ostrich (Leaflet 23). 
They were no less successful in producing rapid and vivid 
outline sketches of giraffes. At the time of the great 
artistic development of the Bushmen the whole fauna of 
South Africa was immensely rich and abounded in animals 
now extinct, like the oryx which frequented the plains of 
the Zwart Kei, the giraffe which abounded in the forests of 
Transval, buffalo, elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, 
zebra, quagga, gnu, antelopes, and ostrich. 

Fig. 10 represents a running giraffe cut in sandstone 
by the Bushmen in the Orange River Colony. G. W. Stow 
(Native Races of South Africa) mentions after Barrow a 
Bushman cave-drawing of a giraffe and writes that he 
found himself several drawings of it in the Zwart Kei and 
Tsomo caves, also in the Wittebergen of the Orange Free 
State. This, according to Stow, indubitably proves that the 
giraffe was found in the early days over a far wider area 
of country than at present. Stow also refers to a number 
of chippings, chiefly representations of animals at Pniel, 
among these the head and neck of a giraffe which is said to 
be remarkably fine, both on account of its large size and 
the correctness of its outline. 

G. M. Theal holds that no giraffes have ever been 
seen by Europeans south of the Orange River, but that as 
profiles of them are found in Bushman paintings along the 
Zwart Kei and Tsomo Rivers, it is believed that they must 
once have existed there. It may be the case, however, that 
in their artistic efforts the Bus men did not confine them- 
selves to the animals of their habitat, but may also have 
illustrated animals they encountered during their rovings 
over the country. 


The Giraffe in Africa 



Field Museum of Natural History 



So . 

I S 2 

a I t 


I -a I 
° e B 

5 ! 

The Giraffe in Africa 


In the folk-lore of the Hottentot the giraffe plays a 
prominent role. 

A wall-painting from a council-room in the royal "pal- 
ace" at Gaviro, Ubena, in Southeast Africa, shows three 
giraffes in company with two zebras (Fig. 11). While some- 
what stiff and rather inexact in the shape of the body and 
legs, the movement and action of the animals are well ob- 
served, especially in the first, that bends its neck down- 
ward and touches one of the zebras, and in the third of 
which only the front part is represented. 

Fig. 12. 
Rock-engraving of Giraffe. Tuareg, Sahara. 
After E. F. Gautier. 

Fig. 12 illustrates a giraffe engraved in a rock in the 
Tuareg country in the Sahara. This station of rock-carv- 
ings among which camels, hunters on camel-back, and 
many other animals are found, was discovered by E. F. 
Gautier in 1903 (described by him in U Anthropologic, 
1904, p. 497). In his opinion, this picture bears all char- 
acteristics of a very great antiquity. The lines are deeply 
and profoundly cut. It is curious to find a representation 
of the giraffe in the desert area, where it has never occurred. 

30 Field Museum op Natural Histoey 

According to Gautier, the giraffe is theonly animal in the 
art of Tuareg that does not belong to the fauna of the 
region, while all other animals do. This problem is not 
hard to solve, however. Considering the fact that live 
giraffes were traded by the Arabs to Mediterranean and 
Asiatic countries and that the commerce in giraffes goes 
back to the early relations between Egypt and Punt, 
giraffes could have been brought to Tuareg as well. 


The giraffe was not known to the Hebrews at the 
time of Moses, as was formerly believed. This opinion 
was suggested by the Hebrew word zamar or zemer, which 
occurs in Deuteronomy (XIV, 5), and solely in this pass- 
age as one of the animals whose flesh was sanctioned by the 
Mosaic legislation. In the Seventy this Hebrew animal 
name has been translated into Greek as kamelopardalis, 
and the Vulgate gives camelopardalus as the corresponding 
Latin translation. Edward Topsell, author of "The His- 
orie of Four-footed Beastes" (1607), writes that the "flesh 
of the giraffe is good for meat, and was allowed to the Jews 
by God himselfe for a cleane beast." J. Ogilby, in his work 
"Africa" (1607), commits a curious error by writing with 
reference to the giraffe, "Caesar first shewed him at Rome, 
though 'tis probable they formerly abounded in Judea, 
being a food prohibited to the Jews." There is no evidence 
whatever to the effect that the giraffe ever occurred in Pal- 
estine or anywhere in western Asia during historical times, 
nor is it safe to assume with Joly and Lavocat that Moses 
might have been acquainted with the animal from pictures 
on Egyptian monuments. A legislator permits or prohibits 
an animal known to his nation from real life, but hardly 
one merely known pictorially. Bochart, in his erudite folio 
on the animals of the Bible (Hierozoicon), has arrived at 
the conclusion that the ancient Hebrews were not ac- 
quainted with the giraffe, and explains zamar as a species of 
antelope, probably the chamois (Antilope rupicapra). 
"Chamois" was adopted by the English Version as render- 
ing of zamar, but this, in all probability, is not correct 
either, for the chamois does not occur in Palestine. The 
general consensus of opinion now is that the "camelopar- 
dalis" of the Seventy rests on a mistranslation and that the 
animal intended by the Hebrew word is the wild goat or 
mountain sheep with curved horns. Professor J. M. Powis 


32 Field Museum op Natural History 

Smith of the University of Chicago informs me, "The best 
rendering of zamar is 'mountain sheep.' The Seventy 
rendering, I take it, is a mere guess and a wild one at 
that. The word was probably unknown, and they took a 
free shot at it." 

The Arabs made the acquaintance of the giraffe in 
Abyssinia at a comparatively late period. Their name for 
the animal, zarafa or zurafa, is supposed to be derived from 
Ethiopic zarat. In early Arabic poetry the animal is not 
mentioned, as it never occurred in Arabia. * 

Masudi, an eminent Arabic traveller and historian, 
who died in A.D. 956 or 957, writes that the giraffe generally 
lives in Nubia, but is not found in Abyssinia; there is no 
agreement as to the origin of the animal; some regard it as 
a variety of the camel, others assert that it has sprung from 
the union of the camel and the panther; others, again, hold 
that it is a distinct species like the horse, the donkey, and 
the ox, not, however, the product of a crossing like the mule. 
He emphasizes the giraffe's gentleness and the affection 
which it displays for the members of its family, and adds 
that in this species, in the same manner as among ele- 
phants, there are wild and tame individuals. 

Ibn al-Faqih, an Arabic geographer from Hamadan 
in Persia, who wrote about A.D. 1022, gives the following 
account: — 

"The giraffe lives in Nubia. It is said that it takes its 
place between the panther and the camel mare, that the 
panther mates with the latter who produces the giraffe. 
There are cases analogous to this one: thus the horse pairs 
with the ass, the wolf with the hyena, the panther with the 
lioness from whom the pard issues. The giraffe has the 
stature of the camel, the head of a stag, hoofs like those of 
cattle, and a tail like a bird. Its fore legs (literally, 
'hands') have two callosities, while these are lacking in its 
hind legs. Its skin is panther-like and presents a marvel- 
lous sight. In Persia the animal is called 'camel-bull- pan- 
ther' (ushtur or shutur-gdw-palank), because it has some- 

The Giraffe Among Arabs and Persians 83 

thing in common with each of these three. Some scholars 
assert that the giraffe is generated by stallions of various 
kinds. This, however, is erroneous, for the horse does not 
impregnate the camel nor does the camel the cow." 

Zakariya al-Qazwini (1203-83), Arabic author of a cos- 
mography and a work on historical geography, writes 
in his description of Abyssinia thus: — 

"The giraffe is produced by the camel mare, the male 
hyena, and the wild cow. Its head is shaped like that of a 
stag, its horns like that of cattle, its legs like those of a 
nine year old camel, its hoofs like those of cattle, its tail 
like that of a gazelle; its neck is very long, its hands are 
long, and its feet are short. A scholar, Timat by name, 
relates that in the southern equatorial region animals of 
various kinds congregate during the summer around the 
cisterns, being driven there by heat and thirst; if an animal 
of a certain species covers one of another species, strange 
animals like the giraffe are born: the male hyena mates 
with the female Abyssinian camel; if the young one is a 
male and covers the wild cow, it will produce a giraffe." 

In another passage Qazwini informs us that the giraffe 
has knees only in its fore legs, but no knees in its hind legs; 
in walking it advances its left hind leg first and then its 
right fore leg, contrary to the habit of all other quadrupeds 
which advance the right fore leg first and then the left hind 
leg. Among its natural qualities are affection and sociable- 
ness. As Allah knew that it would derive its sustenance 
from trees, He created its fore legs longer than its hind 
ones, to enable it to graze on them easily." 

This theory of a mongrel origin of a giraffe was merely 
a popular belief suggested by the peculiar characteristics 
of the animal, but was not accepted by those who were 
able to think. An interesting instance to this effect is cited 
by Damiri (1344-1405) in his Zoological Dictionary (Hayat 
al-Hayawan, "Life of Animals"), who writes, "al-Jahiz is 
not satisfied with this explanation and states that it is the 
outcome of sheer ignorance and emanates only from people 

34 Field Museum op Natural History 

who lack the faculty of discrimination; for God creates 
whatever He pleases. The giraffe, on the contrary, is a 
distinct species of animal, independent (sui generis) like 
the horse or the ass. This is proved by the fact that it is 
able to produce one like itself, a fact which has been ascer- 
tained by observation." Masudi, as mentioned, says also 
that many regard the giraffe as a particular species, not 
as the result of any cross-breed. 

Dimashki, who wrote a Cosmography about A.D. 1325, 
commits an odd error by localizing the giraffe in Ceylon 
(Serendib), but gives a correct description of it. "It is an 
animal of a remarkable shape," he writes, "it has a neck 
like a camel, a skin like a leopard and stag, horns like an 
antelope, teeth like a cow, a head like a camel, and a back 
like a cock. Its fore legs, as well as its neck, are very long; 
it measures ten ells and more in height. Its hind legs are very 
short and without articulation. Only its front legs have 
knees as among other animals, because the neck is too 
short in proportion with its fore legs when it grazes on the 
ground. In walking it sets its right foot ahead and its left 
foot behind, in distinction from other quadrupeds. It has 
a gentle disposition, and is sociable toward its companions. 
It belongs to the ruminants, and its ordure is like that of 

Makrizi (1365-1442), in his History of the Mamluk 
Sultans of Egypt, reports that in the year 1292 a female 
giraffe in the Castle of the Hill (at Cairo) gave birth to a 
young one, which was nursed by a cow. This was regarded 
as an auspicious event which is recorded by three other 
Arab chroniclers. 

The Arabs, like most Oriental nations, paid much at- 
tention to dreams, and developed a pseudo-science of divi- 
nation based on dreams. Thus the appearance of a giraffe 
in a dream is interpreted by Damiri as follows: "A giraffe 
seen in a dream indicates a financial calamity. Sometimes 
it signifies a respectable or a beautiful woman, or the receipt 
of strange news to come from the direction from which the 



In Collections of Field Museum. Blackstone Expedition to China, 1908. 

The Giraffe Among Arabs and Persians 35 

animal is seen. There is, however, no good in the news. 
When a giraffe appears in a dream to enter a country or 
town, no gain is to be obtained from it, for it augurs a 
calamity to your property; there is no guaranty for the 
safety of a friend, a spouse, or a wife whom you may want 
to take through your homestead. A giraffe in a dream may 
sometimes be interpreted to mean a wife who is not faithful 
to her husband, because in the shape of its back it differs 
from the riding-beasts." 

The flesh of the giraffe is consumed by the Arab hunt- 
ers of Abyssinia. The long tendons of the legs are highly 
prized by the Arabs and used like thread for sewing leather, 
also for guitar strings. The Arab tribes Fazoql and Ber- 
tat make shields of giraffe-hide. 

The Arabs were the most active dealers in giraffes and 
traded the animals to the Mediterranean countries as well 
as to Persia, India, and China. Masudi, in the tenth cen- 
tury, informs us that giraffes were sent as presents from 
Nubia to the kings of Persia, as in later days they were 
offered to Arab princes, to the first Caliphs of the house of 
Abbas and the governors of Egypt. 

When Egypt was a province of the Caliphate (A.D. 
641-868), Nubia was invaded by the Emir Abdallah Ibn 
Sad, and a treaty was concluded in A.D. 652, compelling 
the Nubians to pay an annual tribute consisting of four 
hundred slaves, a number of camels, two elephants, and 
two giraffes. During the reign of the Caliph al-Mahdi (A.D. 
775-785) it was ordered again that Nubia be held respon- 
sible every year for three hundred and sixty slaves and 
one giraffe. This tribute was paid for two centuries when 
it was repudiated in A.D. 854, but this revolt was soon 
crushed. In 1275, under the rule of the Mamluks, the 
Sudan was annexed by Egypt, and three giraffes, three 
elephants, panthers, dromedaries, and oxen were stipu- 
lated among the annual tribute. 

El-Aziz (A.D. 975-996), a Caliph of the Fatimid empire 
of Egypt, a bold hunter and a fearless general, was fond of 

36 Field Museum of Natural History 

rare animals, and had many strange animals and birds 
brought to Cairo. Female elephants, which the Nubians 
had carefully reserved, were at length introduced for breed- 
ing under jjis reign, and a stuffed rhinoceros delighted the 
crowd. On the occasion of a solemn festival celebrated by 
the Caliph in A.D. 990, elephants and a giraffe were con- 
ducted in front of him, and several giraffes marched before 
the Caliph on other occasions. Gold vases with figures of 
giraffes, elephants, and other animals were made for him, 
also gold statuettes of giraffes and elephants. 

Beybars (1260-77), the real founder of the Mamluk 
empire in Egypt, a native of Kipchak (between the Cas- 
pian and the Ural Mountains) and possessor of untold 
wealth, sent in 1262 giraffes, together with Arab horses, 
dromedaries, mules, wild asses, apes, parrots, and many 
other gifts to his ally, the Khan of the Golden Horde. 

Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo, a Spanish knight, who went 
as ambassador to the court of Timur at Samarkand in the 
years 1403-06, tells the following interesting story: — 

When the ambassadors arrived in the city of Khoi [in 
the province of Azerbeijan, Persia], they found in it an 
ambassador, whom the Sultan of Babylon had sent to 
Timur Beg; who had with him as many as twenty horses 
and fifteen camels, laden with presents, which the Sultan 
of Babylon [probably an ambassador from Cairo] sent to 
Timur Beg. He also had six rare birds, and a beast called 
jornufa (giraffe), which creature is made with the body as 
large as that of a horse, a very long neck, and the fore legs 
much longer than the hind ones. Its hoofs are like those 
of a bullock. From the nail of the hoof to the shoulder it 
measured sixteen palmos; and when it wished to stretch 
its neck, it raised it so high that it was wonderful; and its 
neck was slender, like that of a stag. The hind legs were 
so short, in comparison with the fore legs, that a man who 
had never seen it before, might well believe that it was 
seated, although it was standing up; and the buttocks were 
worn, like those of a buffalo. The belly was white, and the 

The Giraffe Among Arabs and Persians 37 

body was of a golden color, surrounded by large white 
rings. The face was like that of a stag, and on the forehead 
it had a large projection, the eyes were large and round, 
and the ears like those of a horse. Near the ears it had two 
small round horns, covered with hair, which looked like 
those of a very young stag. The neck was long, and 
could be raised so high, that it could reach up to eat from 
the top of a very high wall; and it could reach up to eat 
the leaves from the top of a very lofty tree, which it did 
plenteously. To a man who had never seen such an animal 
before, it was a wonderful sight." 

The giraffe which Clavijo observed and described had 
been sent to Timur in the year 1402 soon after the battle 
of Angora by the Mamluk Sultan Faraj of Egypt, who 
dispatched two ambassadors to his court with rich pre- 
sents, among these a giraffe. 

In the History of Timur Begh or Tamerlan written in 
Persian by Sherefeddin Ali of Yezd in the fifteenth century 
the presentation of a giraffe is mentioned. When Timur 
in 1414 celebrated the marriage of his grandchildren, an 
envoy from the sovereign of Egypt arrived, and had an 
audience with the emperor, bringing presents of minted sil- 
ver, precious stones, sumptuous textiles, and among other 
curiosities a giraffe, which the Persian chronicler writes is 
one of the rarest animals of the earth, and nine ostriches, 
of the largest of Africa. 

Josafa Barbaro and Ambrogio Contarini, Venetian 
travellers, saw in 1471 a live giraffe at the court of Persia, 
and describe it in the old English translation of W. Thomas 
as follows: "After this was brought forth a Giraffa, which 
they called Girnaffa [the Italian original in Ramusio has: 
Zirapha which they also call Zirnapha or Giraffa}, a beast 
as long legged as a great horse, or rather more; but the 
hinder legs are half a foot shorter than the former, and is 
cloven footed as an ox, in maner of a violet color mingled 
all over with black spots, great and small according to their 
places: the belly white somewhat long haired, thin haired 

38 Field Museum op Natural History 

on the tail as an ass, little horns like a goat, and the neck 
more than a pace long: the tongue a yard long, violet and 
round as an eele, with the which he grazeth or eateth the 
leaves from the trees so swiftly that it is scarcely to be per- 
ceived. He is headed like a hart, but more finely, with 
the which standing on the ground he will reach fifteen 
foot high. His breast is broader than the horse, but the 
croup narrow like an ass; he seemeth to be a marvellous 
fair beast, but not like to bear any burden." 

The name surnapa or zurndpa for the giraffe is 
regarded as peculiar to Persian, but it was heard and re- 
corded by P. Belon at Cairo toward the middle of the 
sixteenth century and a little later by Moryson at Con- 
stantinople (cf . pp. 67, 84) . This goes to show that the word 
surnapa was also employed in the colloquial Osmanli and 
Arabic of the sixteenth century. Yule regards it as a form 
curiously divergent of zardfa, perhaps nearer the original. 
A popular Persian etymology analyzes the word into zurnd 
("hautboy") and pa ("foot"), in allusion to the long and 
thin legs of the giraffe ("having legs shaped like an haut- 
boy"), — assuredly a far-fetched and artificial explanation. 
Possibly this form may have originated in Ethiopia, pre- 
senting a compound of zur and Ethiopic nabun pointed out 
by Pliny. Bochart derives this nabun from naba ("to be 

A very curious picture of a giraffe by a Persian artist 
is reproduced in Plate II. It is contained in the Manafi-i- 
Hayawan ("Description of Animals"), an illustrated Per- 
sian bestiary of eighty-five folios, completed between the 
years A.D. 1295 and 1300 and now preserved in the 
Pierpont Morgan Library of New York. I am under obli- 
gation to Miss Belle Da Costa Greene, director of the 
library, for kindly placing a photograph of the giraffe pic- 
ture at my disposal. A brief description of this beautiful 
manuscript has been given by C. Anet (Burlington Maga- 
zine, 1913, pp. 224, 261) with reproductions of some fine 
selected specimens of the illustrations, but not of the gi- 

The Giraffe Among Arabs and Persians 39 

raffe which is reproduced here for the first time. The text 
is a Persian translation of an earlier Arabic manuscript 
made at the command of Ghazan Khan, a descendant of 
the Mongol rulers of Persia. In the opinion of C. Anet, the 
animals of this Persian album are of the highest order, con- 
vey an idea of what may be called the primitive period of 
Persian painting, and show a magnificent originality and a 
force in style and drawing. 

The interesting feature of the Persian painting is that 
it represents not merely a giraffe in general, but apparently 
depicts a now well-known particular species, the so-called 
reticulated giraffe (Fig. 1 on p. 4), which inhabits the So- 
mali country and is chestnut-colored, covered with a net- 
work of white lines. The net-work is treated as more or less 
regular hexagons, but the artist has reproduced the appear- 
ance of the characteristic markings of this species quite 
correctly, as comparison with Fig. 1 will show. Head, neck 
and body are correctly outlined in general; only the joint- 
less fore legs are stiff. A collar with eight small bells is 
hung around the animal's neck. Each of its feet appears 
to be manacled to impede its free motion. It is placed in a 
surrounding of graceful shrubbery tenanted by three birds. 
The leaves reach the animal's head, and in this manner the 
artist has apparently intended to convey a good idea of its 
extraordinary height. 

The picture is accompanied by the following text in 
Persian which translated is as follows: "This animal is 
called shutur-gaw-palank [see above, p. 32], for the reason 
that every part or member of it exhibits similarity to a 
corresponding part of one of these three animals. Its hands 
(fore legs) and neck are like those of a camel, its skin is like 
that of a leopard, its teeth and hoofs are like those of an ox. 
It has long hands (fore legs) and short feet (hind legs). 
Only its hind legs are provided with knees, not its fore legs. 
Its head and tail are like those of a deer. Its young ones 
are said to start eating grass when they put their heads out 
of their mother's womb. They eat grass until satisfied. 

40 Field Museum of Natural History 

Then the young ones return into their habitation (the 
womb). When they are severed from the mother, they will 
run away immediately, for the mother has a rough and 
flying tongue. When she licks the young one, its flesh and 
skin will come off, so that it will not approach the mother 
for three or four days." The statement in regard to the 
hind legs having knees is a curious inversion of what the 
Arabs say (above, p. 33). 

Colonel Roosevelt (Life-histories of African Game Ani- 
mals) describes the reticulated giraffe as follows: "The 
reticulated giraffe is marked on the neck by distinct reticu- 
lations, formed by the large rufous squares being set off 
sharply by narrow lines of white ground-color. This color 
pattern is so distinctive from the usual blotched coloration 
of other giraffes that the race has been considered a dis- 
tinct species by many naturalists. Some specimens of the 
Uganda giraffe, however, show as narrow reticulations, but 
the ground-color is seldom so whitish in appearance. The 
horns of the bull are well developed, the frontal horn being 
especially large, and is exceeded in height only by the 
Uganda race. The body is marked by large squares of ru- 
fous separated by ochraceous reticulations, and differs de- 
cidely from the small size and broken-edged spots of the 
Masai giraffe. The legs from the knees and hocks down- 
ward nearly as far as the fetlocks are reticulated by buffy- 
whitish ground-color and tawny blotches. One of the dis- 
tinctive color marks of this race is the carrying forward of 
the reticulated pattern of the neck over the cheeks and the 
upper throat to the chin. The mandible shows distinctive 
characters, being low at the condyles, and having short 
coronoid processes. The frontal horn is remarkably robust 
and of great circumference, and is scarcely less in height 
than in the Uganda race; but the skull itself at this point 
is much less in height." 

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The giraffe was not known to the ancient Chinese, 
contrary to what is assumed by certain sinologues. This 
erroneous conclusion is based on the fact that when live 
giraffes were first transported into China in the fifteenth 
century under the Ming dynasty, they were taken by the 
Chinese for the Kilin (k'i-liri), a fabulous creature of an- 
cient mythology, and by way of reminiscence and poetic 
retrospection received the name k'i-lin. This, of course, 
does not mean that the ancient native conception of the 
Kilin was based on the giraffe, which in historical times 
was confined to Africa. In fact, neither the description nor 
the illustrations of the Kilin bear the slightest resemblance 
to a giraffe. The Kilin is said to have the body of a deer, 
the tail of an ox, a single horn, and to be covered with 
fish-scales. Its horn is covered with flesh, indicating that 
while able for war, it covets peace. It does not tread on 
any living thing, not even on living grass. It symbolizes 
gentleness, goodness, and benevolence. It is said to have 
appeared just previous to the death of Confucius, and it 
will appear whenever a benevolent sovereign rules; it was 
a mythical animal of good omen. The Kilin has a horn 
with a fleshy basis or fleshy horns, while the giraffe has two 
bony excrescences on its head which merely resemble horns, 
but are not. De Groot (see note on p. 96) insists on the 
good and gentle disposition being ascribed to either crea- 
ture, but it is obvious that a zoological identification cannot 
be based on alleged psychological traits; many deer, sheep, 
and other animals may likewise be characterized in this 
manner. It is singular that De Groot remained entirely 
ignorant of the importations of giraffes into China and of 
what Chinese authors know about the subject. 

It is clear that the characteristic features of the giraffe 
which impress every casual observer — the extraordinary 
height, the long neck, the proportion of fore and hind legs — 


42 Field Museum of Natural History 

are not found in the Chinese descriptions of the Kilin and 
that several traits of the latter do not agree with the giraffe. 
Thus, the voice of the Kilin resembles the sound of a bell, 
and it walks with regular steps. The giraffe, however, has 
no voice at all. "It is an interesting fact that giraffes are 
absolutely mute, and even in their death-agonies never 
utter a sound" (Hutchinson's Animals of All Countries). 
Says G. Renshaw, "Giraffes are well hnown to be silent 
animals. I once heard the Southern giraffe still living in 
the London Zoo give a kind of coughing sneeze — the only 
recorded occasion, I believe, of these animals ever having 
been known to make any noise at all! It was, however, 
probably caused by some irritant in the nasal passage, and 
cannot be called a vocal sound." 

The only points of resemblance made by the Chinese 
between the Kilin and the giraffe are their bodies being 
shaped like a deer, their tails being like that of an ox, and 
their gentle disposition. This identification, it should be 
borne in mind, was established as recently as the fifteenth 
century when the first live giraffes arrived in China. 

The Su po wu chi, a book compiled by Li Shi about 
the middle of the twelfth century, apparently contains one 
of the earliest Chinese literary allusions to the giraffe. 
"The country Po-pa-li [Berbera, on the Somali coast of the 
Gulf of Aden] harbors a strange animal called camel-ox (t'o 
niu). Its skin is like that of a leopard, its hoof is similar to 
that of an ox, but the animal is devoid of a hump. Its 
neck is nine feet long, and its body is over ten feet high." 

The designation "camel-ox" corresponds exactly to a 
Persian designation of the giraffe, ushtur-gaw (ushlur, 
"camel" ; gaw, "ox, cow"), mentioned as early as the tenth 
century by the Arabic writer Masudi. It may hence be 
inferred that the information received in regard to the ani- 
mal had come to China from Persia. 

The second reference to the giraffe is made by Chao 
Ju-kwa in his work Chufan chi, written in A.D. 1225. This 
author was collector of customs in the port of Ts'uan-chou 

The Giraffe in Chinese Records and Art 43 

fu in the province of Fu-kien, where he came in close con- 
tact with Arabian merchants and representatives of other 
foreign nations who then entertained a lucrative commerce 
with China. From oral information given him by foreign 
traders and from earlier Chinese sources he compiled his 
brief book. In his notes on the Berbera or Somali coast of 
East Africa he mentions as a native of that country "a 
wild animal called tsu-la, which resembles a camel in shape, 
an ox in size, and is yellow of color. Its fore legs are five 
feet long, while its hind feet are only three feet in length. 
Its head is high and looks upward. Its skin is an inch 
thick." The word tsu-la used in the Chinese text is not 
Chinese, but is of Arabic origin; it is intended to reproduce 
zurdfa, the Arabic term for the giraffe. 

African animals were transported to China as early 
as the thirteenth century under the Yuan or Mongol dy- 
nasty. We are informed, for instance, in the Annals of 
this dynasty that in the year 1287 an envoy from Mabar 
(Malabar, on the south-west coast of India) presented the 
emporer with "a strange animal resembling a mule, but 
larger and covered with hair mottled black and white; it 
was called a-t'a-pi." Judging from this name, the beast 
appears to be identical with the topi, the Swahili name for 
the Topi damaliscus {Damaliscus jimila), a kind of ante- 
lope peculiar to East Africa, also called bastard hartebeest 
(see, further, note on p. 96). 

In A.D. 1289 the Chinese emperor was presented with 
two zebras from Mabar, and in the following year another en- 
voy arrived from the same country and offered two piebald 
oxen, a buffalo, and a tiger-cat. The giraffe, as far as I 
know, is not mentioned in the Yuan Annals, although there 
is no reason why it should not have come along with topi 
and zebra. Malabar, at that time, was in close commercial 
relations with the ports of southern Arabia, and it was the 
Arabs who brought these live animals from the Somali 
coast to southern Arabia and thence transhipped them to 

44 Field Museum or Natural History 

There are in the Chinese Annals several records of 
giraffes being sent alive as gifts to the Chinese emperors 
during the fifteenth century. In that period a new impetus 
was given to the exploration of the countries of the Indian 
Ocean through the exploits of Cheng Ho, eunuch and navi- 
gator. In A.D. 1408 and 1412 he conducted, with a fleet of 
sixty-two ships, naval expeditions to the realms of south- 
eastern Asia, advancing as far as Ceylon, and inducing 
many states to send envoys back with him to his native 
country. In 1415 and again in 1421 he returned with the 
foreign envoys to their countries in order to open trading 
relations with them. In 1424 he was sent to Sumatra. 
In 1425, as no envoys had come to Peking, he and his old 
lieutenant, Wang King-hung, visited seventeen countries, 
including Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. This was at a time 
when no European sail had yet been sighted on the Indian 

In A.D. 1414 (the twelfth year of the period Yung-lo, 
under the emperor Ch'eng Tsu), Saifud-din, king of Ben- 
gal, sent envoys to China with an offering of giraffes and 
famous horses. The Board of Rites asked permission of 
the emperor to present an address of congratulation. As 
the giraffe was termed k'i-lin, and the fabulous k'i-lin of 
antiquity was reputed to appear only at the time of a vir- 
tuous ruler, the giraffe was obviously regarded as an auspi- 
cious omen, and the proposed address of congratulation 
was chiefly intended as a flattery to the sovereign, who had 
sense enough to see through the game and denied the 

In A.D. 1415 the country Ma-lin (Malindi in British 
East Africa) offered a giraffe to the emperor. On this oc- 
casion the President of the Board of Rites, Lu Chen, made 
a report to the throne, requesting that the officials should 
offer congratulations to the emperor; the request, however, 
was denied again. 

In the year 1421 the chamberlain Chou travelled for 
the purpose of purchasing giraffes, lions, and other rare 

The Giraffe in Chinese Records and Art 45 

animals, rather to satisfy his own vanity than to make a 
contribution to knowledge. 

In the year 1422 an imperial envoy, the eunuch Li, 
was sent to Aden with a letter and presents to the king. 
On his arrival he was honorably received, and on landing 
was met by the king and conducted by him to his palace. 
During the sojourn of the embassy, the people who had 
rarities were permitted to offer them for sale. Cat's-eyes 
of extraordinary size, rubies, and other precious stones, 
large branches of coral, amber, and attar of roses were 
among the articles purchased. Giraffes, lions, zebras, leo- 
pards, ostriches, and white pigeons were also offered for 
sale. An account of this expedition was written by Ma 
Huan, a Chinese Mohammedan familiar with the Arabic 
language. He was attached to the suite of Cheng Ho on 
his cruise in the Indian Ocean, and published on his return 
(between 1425 and 1432) an interesting geographical work 
( Ying yai sheng Ian) in which the twenty countries visited 
by the expedition are described. With reference to Aden 
he remarks that the giraffe is found there; it was, of course, 
not a native of Aden, either at that time or at present, but 
was transported there by the Arabs from the east coast of 
Africa. Ma Huan describes the animal "as having fore 
legs nine feet high and hind legs about six feet; its head is 
raised, and its neck is sixteen feet long [this, in fact, is the 
total height of the animal from head to foot]; owing to its 
fore quarters being high and its hind quarters low it cannot 
be ridden; it has two short, fleshy horns close to its ears; its 
tail is like that of a cow, and its body like that of a deer; its 
hoof is divided into three sections; its mouth is wide and 
flat, and it feeds on millet, beans, and flour cakes." The 
last remark shows that the question is of giraffes kept in 
captivity and receiving cereal food from the hands of men. 
It appears that a regular trade was carried on by the Arabs 
in these animals who aroused so much curiosity and that 
Aden was the centre of this commercial activity. 

46 Field Museum op Natural History 

In the year 1430 Cheng Ho dispatched one of his com- 
panions to Calicut in southern India. Having heard that a 
trading vessel was to sail from that port to Arabia, he com- 
manded this officer to embark and take Chinese goods as 
presents for the native ruler along. The voyage lasted a 
year. The Chinese envoy purchased there fine pearls, 
precious stones, a giraffe (k'i-liri), a lion, and an ostrich. 

In 1431 giraffes were sent as tribute by embassies from 
"the countries of the Southern Sea." 

Fei Sin, who in 1436 wrote the Sing ch'a sheng Ian, an 
account of four voyages made in the Indian Ocean by 
imperial envoys during the first quarter of the fifteenth 
century, mentions giraffes under the name tsu-la-fa (Arabic 
zurdfa) among the natural products of Arabia, particularly 
of Zufar on the south coast of the peninsula. He observes 
that "the ruler of the country and his ministers are very 
grateful to the Heavenly Dynasty [that is, China], and 
that their missions are constantly bringing presents of lions 
and giraffes to offer as tribute." 

A noteworthy point is that the giraffes were not sent 
to China over the land route, as the ostriches, but were 
conveyed in ships over the maritime route from Aden by 
way of India. It is a pity that we have no detailed story 
as to how the animals were transported, for their trans- 
portation is a difficult problem even at the present time. 
Giraffes are very nervous and hence very awkward animals 
to transport, as they are liable to break their necks by sud- 
denly twisting about in their travelling boxes. It is still 
more deplorable that the Chinese have not preserved a 
record of how the animals were cared for in their country, 
how long they lived, etc. 

From an account in the Wu tsa tsu, written in 1610, it 
appears that under the reign of Ch'eng Tsu (1403-25) a 
painter was directed to make a sketch of a Kilin which had 
been captured; the artist's picture showed the animal's 
body shaped like that of a deer, but its neck was very long, 
conveying the impression that it was three to four feet in 

a 2 

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i- 3 


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The Giraffe in Chinese Records and Art 47 

length. As at that time giraffes were brought to China, it 
is possible that they served as models for this picture of a 

Fig. 13 is a woodcut reproduced, after A. C. Moule, 
from a Chinese book, entitled "Pictures of Birds and Beasts 
of Foreign Lands" (J yii k'in shou t'u), a copy of which is 
preserved in the University Library of Cambridge and 
which may have originated about or after 1420. The ani- 
mal is designated in the engraving as k'i-lin; it is equipped 
with a headstall, and is guided by a bare-headed foreigner 
clad only with a skirt. There is a little stump between the 
animal's ears; the spots are represented by short lines. On 

Fig. 13. 

Giraffe Guided by a Mohammedan. 

Drawing from a Chinese Book of about 1420. 

After A. C. Moule. 

the whole the artist seems to have endeavored to reproduce 
the general appearance of a deer; the neck is comparatively 
too short, the body is not correctly outlined, but the tail is 
fairly correct. 

A Chinese painting representing a giraffe is repro- 
duced in Plate III. It was obtained by me at Si-an fu in 
1908. It is a long paper scroll dyed a deep black from 
which the picture, of circular shape (eleven inches in di- 
ameter) is set off in a light brown color. The giraffe is 
surprisingly well done, the shape of the head with two 
horns and the outlines of the body are well caught, while 

48 Field Museum of Natural, History 

no attempt is made at delineating the markings of the skin. 
The animal is shown freely in nature, surrounded by trees 
and brushwork, — a unique conception which, as far as I 
know, does not occur elsewhere. 

The picture is inscribed at the top with a stanza of 
four lines, the characters being neatly written in gold ink. 
The poem is characterized as an "imperial composition" 
(yu ch'i). It reads, — 

With the tail of an ox and the body of a deer, the animal is seen 

walking through the wilderness. 
Auspicious clouds are facing the sun, and the prosperity of the 

government is clearly in evidence. 
The people will meet with great success, and there will be a 

year of abundant harvest. 
There will be plenty of food, and with songs they will praise the 

great peace. 

Although the animal is not named, it results from the 
characteristics ("tail of an ox and body of a deer") that 
the Kilin is implicitly understood. Like the Kilin, the gi- 
raffe is considered an auspicious omen, presaging a pros- 
perous government, a good harvest, abundance of victuals 
for all, and a peaceful reign. The poem, on its left side, is 
provided with a date which corresponds to our year 1485, 
and this may also be the date of the picture; or the latter 
may be somewhat earlier, and the poem was added to it in 
1485; at any rate, the picture is a production of the fif- 
teenth century, the age of the importation of giraffes. 

The Chinese painting of a giraffe, reproduced in Plate 
IV, is of an entirely different character. It was obtained 
in China by Mr. A. W. Bahr, who kindly placed it at my 
disposal. The picture is painted on old silk, the surface 
of which is much disintegrated, measuring 54 x 33^ inches. 
It is not signed or sealed, or in any way inscribed. The 
giraffe is of imposing size, and the unknown Chinese artist 
has with remarkable effect brought out its height in com- 
parison with its two Arab guides. The animal is provided 
with a green headstall, and the neck is adorned with a tas- 
sel of horse-hair dyed red and surmounted by metal-work. 
This tassel is of Chinese make, and was attached to the 

The Giraffe in Chinese Records and Art 49 

animal on its arrival in China. Horses and mules are still 
decorated with such tassels. The almost regular designs of 
hexagons covering the body allow the inference that this 
animal is intended to represent the reticulated species 
which has been described above with reference to a Persian 
miniature (p. 39). The two turbaned and bearded Arabs 
are clad in long, red, girdled gowns and high boots, and are 
types full of character. Each holds the end of a halter in 
both his hands. This picture is doubtless a production of 
the Ming period, and very probably of the fifteenth cen- 

C. R. Eastman, who in 1917 published this painting in 
Nature, advanced the theory that it had been copied in 
China from models brought over from Persia, as in his 
judgment it bears a striking resemblance to the Persian 
miniature in Plate II. This entire speculation decidedly 
misses the mark. The two pictures, as every one may con- 
vince himself from the reproductions here published, have 
but one point in common, — the design of hexagons on the 
skins of the animals. This is simply due to the fact that 
the Persian and Chinese artists independently endeavored 
to sketch the same species, a reticulated giraffe. For the 
rest, their productions in style, composition, and spirit are 
fundamentally different; the pose and the equipment of the 
animals are wholly at variance. Mr. Eastman is ignorant 
of the history of the giraffe in Persia and China, and knows 
nothing of the numerous importations of live giraffes into 
both countries. He invents a comfortable theory to suit 
his convenience, and insinuates to Chinese painters a work- 
ing method which they never followed. Nothing is known 
of Persian animal paintings imported into China and cop- 
ied there, but we know as a fact that the Chinese were 
always fond of exotic animals and that their artists were 
in the habit of portraying them, either voluntarily or by 
imperial command. 

It was customary with the Chinese emperors to have 
unusual animals which were presented by foreign poten- 

50 Field Museum op Natural History 

tates painted or even sculptured by their court artists. To 
cite only two specific instances which occurred during the 
Ming period, — a black horse with a white forehead and 
white feet was offered to the emperor in 1439 by Ulug Beg 
Mirza, chief of Samarkand and eldest son of Shah Rukh, 
son of Timur. The emperor ordered a picture of it to be 
made. In 1490 an envoy from Samarkand, together with 
an embassy from Turf an, arrived to present a lion and a 
karakal. When the envoys had reached the province of 
Kan-su, pictures were taken of these beasts and forwarded 
by a courier to the emperor. The ministers proposed to 
decline these presents, but the emperor overruled them and 
accepted the gift. 

For this reason I am convinced also that the Chinese 
paintings of giraffes of the fifteenth century were done 
from nature, from study of the live animals sent as gifts to 
the imperial court. The situation then was exactly the 
same in China as in contemporaneous Italy. It is indeed 
a curious coincidence that in the fifteenth century also live 
giraffes found their way into Italy and engaged the atten- 
tion of Italian artists, as is set forth in the chapter 
"The Giraffe in the Age of the Renaissance." Here again 
there is no mysterious coeval connection between Chinese 
and Italian or between Italian and Persian artists. The art 
of all countries creates new forms at all times from the ob- 
servation of nature. The activity of the Arabs supplied 
giraffes to Europe as well as to Persia, India, and China, 
but the interesting fact remains that the fifteenth century 
was the great age of the giraffe both in the East and West. 

It seems that the importations of giraffes into China 
were restricted just to the fifteenth century and ceased 
thereafter. During the sixteenth century and under the 
Manchu dynasty we hear nothing of giraffes being intro- 
duced into the country. Through a curious force of cir- 
cumstances the animal was brought again to the attention 
of the Chinese in the latter part of the seventeenth 

The Giraffe in Chinese Records and Art 51 

This revival is due to the early Jesuit missionaries 
who endeavored to acquaint their new disciples with the 
methods and results of European science and who success- 
fully diffused among them knowledge of geography, chrono- 
logy, mathematics, physics, astronomy, and technology. 
In the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries 
these indefatigable workers produced a remarkable litera- 
ture both in Chinese and Manchu, which exerted no small 
degree of influence on the thought of Chinese scholarship. 
He who is eager to understand the intellectual develop- 
ment of Chinese society during that epoch cannot afford 
to neglect the literary efforts of those humble and enter- 
prising pioneers. One of them, Ferdinand Verbiest (1623- 
88), who came to China in 1659, published about 1683 a 
small geographical work in Chinese, entitled K'un yii t'u 
shwo, which among other matters also contains illustrations 
with brief descriptions of some foreign animals. Eleven of 
these pictures have been reproduced in the great cyclopae- 
dia T'u shu tsi ch'eng, published in 1726, and this series 
includes the giraffe (Fig. 14). The accompanying text runs 
thus: "West of Libya there is the country Abyssinia 
which produces an animal called u-na-si-yo. Its head is 
shaped like that of a horse; its fore feet are as long as those 
of a big horse, while its hind feet are short. Its neck is 
long; from the hoofs of the fore feet up to the head it is 
over twenty-five feet in height. Its skin is variegated in 
color. It is fed on hay and grass, and is shown in gardens 
to people as a curiosity. It turns round to show off its 
beauty to spectators, as though enjoying being looked at." 

The source of Verbiest's illustration is Edward Top- 
sell's "Historie of Foure-footed Beastes" (London, 1607). 
Topsell's picture of the giraffe reproduced in Fig. 18 (p. 68), 
as stated by himself, was drawn by Melchior Luorigus at 
Constantinople in the year of salvation 1559, and was after- 
wards sent to Germany, where it was imprinted at Nurem- 
berg. A comparison of the two figures will show their close 
interrelation: the animal in outline and pose is identical 

Field Museum of Natural History 

Fig. 14. 

Chinese Woodcut of Giraffe Supplied by Ferdinand Verbioet. 

From T'u shu tsi ch'eng. 

The Giraffe in Chinese Records and Art 53 

in both, the Arab's head-dress has been changed into a 
cockade of two feathers in the Chinese engraving, and a 
landscape of Chinese style has been added to the latter. 
Verbiest has also drawn on Topsell's description. "When 
any come to see them, they willingly and of their own 
accorde, turne themselves round as it were of purpose to 
shewe their soft haires, and beautifull coulour, being as it 
were proud to ravish the eies of the beholders." This is 
the idea expressed by Verbiest in his concluding sentence. 
A similar observation was made by Vincent de Beauvais 
(p. 71). 

Topsell's influence is also visible in Verbiest's nomen- 
clature, for the curious word u-na-si-yo coined by him is 
not traceable to any African or Oriental language. Top- 
sell, enumerating the Arabic, Chaldaean, Persian, Greek 
and Latin names of the animal, says that Albertus adds the 
names Oraflus (hence the older French orafle) and Orasius 
(cf. p. 72). The latter was chosen by Verbiest and ana- 
lyzed into o-ra-si-o; as there is no equivalent for ra in 
Chinese, he substituted the syllable na, and may have felt 
that he was the more justified in so doing, as Topsell offers 
an alleged Chaldaean word Ana. 

The foreign word u-na-si-yo, introduced by Verbiest 
and only used by him, has never been adopted by the Chin- 
ese; but it is noteworthy that the Manchu coined from it a 
word for giraffe in the form unasu. This is contained in the 
Ts'ing wen pu hui, a Manchu-Chinese dictionary compiled 
in 1786. The Manchu word unasu is here explained by a 
Chinese gloss "u-na-si-yo, a strange animal from the 
country Ya-bi-si (Abyssinia)," briefly characterized with 
the words of Verbiest. Verbiest's term u-na-si-yo has 
nothing to do with the onager, the wild ass of Central Asia, 
as has been suggested by Sakharof and Moule. 

To cite another example of how Verbiest made use of 
Topsell's data, — he gives the illustration of a beaver, an 
animal unknown in China, under the name pan-ti, which 
for a long time was a puzzle to me, as it defies identification 

64 Field Museum of Natural History 

with any name for the beaver in Europe and elsewhere. 
Verbiest's picture is copied again from Topsell, who gives 
Cants ponticus as the beaver's Latin name, so that the 
Chinese rendering pan-ti is doubtless based on ponticus. 
Verbiest's hu-lo transcribes Latin gulo, the glutton; his 
animal su, which occurs in Chile in South America, is the 
Opossum described by Topsell (p. 660) as a "wild beast in 
the new-found world called Su." This native American 
name, together with the figure of the animal, was derived 
by him from A. Thevet's account of Brazil. 

The Japanese call the giraffe hyoda ("panther-camel") 
or kirin (corresponding to Chinese k'i-liri). 



In Art Institute, Chicago. 


It has been pointed out in the preceding chapter that, 
according to Chinese records, giraffes were sent to China 
in A.D. 1414 by Saifud-din, king of Bengal, and that other 
African animals like topi and zebra were shipped to China 
from the kingdom of Malabar as early as the thirteenth 
century. It is therefore credible that, as H. Schiltberger 
reports about 1430, giraffes were found at Delhi. He calls 
them surnasa (for surnafa) and describes them as being 
"like a stag, but a tall animal with a long neck, four fa- 
thoms in length or longer." These African animals were 
transported to India by Arabs from the Somali coast by 
way of the ports of southern Arabia. 

India has played a singular role in the historical rec- 
ords of the giraffe. To many ancient and mediaeval writers 
India was a rather vague notion, and was correlated with 
Ethiopia or confounded with other countries. Several 
ancient authors, as mentioned (p. 58), designated India as 
the home of the giraffe. During the middle ages a distinc- 
tion was made between India the Greater and India the 
Lesser (India maior et minor), but there was little concord 
as to their identity and boundaries, and Abyssinia was 
termed Middle India. According to a Byzantine chronicle, 
the emperor Anastasius in A.D. 439 received as a gift from 
India an elephant and two animals called "cameloparda- 
las." There is no doubt that "India" in this case must be 
equalized with Ethiopia. Cassianus Bassus, author of a 
work on agriculture (Geoponica, seventh century A.D.), 
narrates that he saw at Antiochia a camelopard which he 
says had been brought from India. "India," again, must 
be understood here as Ethiopia. 

Andre" Thevet (Cosmographie universelle, Vol. I, fol. 
388b, 1575) was the champion of the strange idea that the 
habitat of the giraffe was India. He even specifies it "in 
the high mountains of Cangipu, Plumaticq and Caragan 


56 Field Museum op Natural History 

which are in interior India beyond the river Ganges, some 
five degrees on this side of the tropic of the cancer." From 
there and several other localities giraffes were brought to an 
island which he calls Isle Amiadine or Anch^dine, and 
where they were kept by the lords of the country for their 
pleasure. The Turks found six giraffes there, seized them 
and forcibly loaded them on their vessels; two of the ani- 
mals died during the voyage, two others died when embarked 
at Aden, the two survivors landed safely at Cairo, where 
Thevet saw them during his three months' stay (compare 
below, p. 83). There is no doubt that owing to his igno- 
rance of Arabic Thevet misunderstood his informants or 
interpreters, who he says were "Abyssinians and other 
Africans." He denies expressly the occurrence of the giraffe 
in Ethiopia, adding that if it is found there at the courts 
of the kings and princes, it was transported into that 
country from India. 

Edward Topsell, in his "Historie of Foure-footed 
Beastes" (1607), defines the distribution of the giraffe thus: 
"These beastes are plentifull in Ethiopia, India, and the 
Georgian region, which was once called Media. Likewise 
in the province of Abasia in India, it is called Surnosa, and 
in Abasia Surnappa." Abasia, as will be seen (p. 74), is 
Marco Polo's designation of Abyssinia, and as Abyssinia 
was comprised under the term Middle India, the confusion 
with India proper arose in Topsell's mind, or was already 
contained in the source which he may have consulted. 

F. Bernier, who travelled in the Mogul empire dur- 
ing the years 1656-68, reports that he saw at the court of 
the emperor Aureng-Zeb the skin of a zebra which ambas- 
sadors from the king of Ethiopia had brought along. The 
zebra was alive when it left Africa, but died during the 
voyage, and the ambassadors had sense enough to preserve 
its skin. Bernier describes it as "a small species of mule: 
no tiger is so beautifully marked, and no striped silken 
stuff is more finely and variously streaked." In view 
of the fact that India maintained considerable r ^ 

The Giraffe in India 57 

with Guendar or Gondar, formerly capital of the Amharic 
kingdom of Abyssinia, it is quite possible that giraffes also 
came from there directly to India. 


The giraffe, being a strictly African animal, remained 
unknown to the civilizations of Western Asia in ancient 
times. In the period of the independence of Hellas the 
Greeks were not acquainted with it. Aristotle, the only- 
great zoologist of antiquity, does not describe it. It has 
been supposed that the hippardion or pardion mentioned 
by Aristotle (Historia animalium II, 1) as having "a thin 
mane extending from the head to the withers/'without 
further particulars, may be the giraffe, but this is highly 
improbable; at any rate, the evidence for such an identifi- 
cation is insufficient. In the epoch of Hellenism when the 
geographical horizon had widened and when giraffes were 
transmitted from Egypt to Rome, we meet the first de- 
scription of them in late Greek and Roman authors. There 
is, accordingly, no representation of the animal in Greek 
art, nor is it found on antique coins or engraved gems. 

In 46 B.C. the first giraffe arrived in Rome, and 
marched in Caesar's triumphal procession; it was subse- 
quently shown in the circus games held by Caesar. This 
event caused a great sensation, and is referred to by Varro, 
Horace, Dio Cassius, and Pliny. 

Ten giraffes appeared in the circus of Rome in A.D. 247 
under the emperor Gordianus III to take part in the cele- 
bration of the first millennium that had elapsed since the 
foundation of Rome. This was the largest number of live 
giraffes ever brought together at any time. Giraffes were 
also in the possession of the emperor Aurelianus (A.D. 
270-275). In A.D. 274, when he celebrated his triumph 
over Zenobia, queen of Palmyra, several giraffes appeared 
in the circus games. 

In regard to the habitat of the animal the notions of 
the ancients were vague. Some authors like Pausanias, 
Bassus, and others locate it in India; Artemidorus ascribes 



Photograph by Courtesy of Carl Hagenbeck. 

The Giraffe among the Ancients 59 

it to Arabia, Agatharchides to the country of the Trog- 
lodytes; Pliny and Heliodorus place its home in Ethiopia. 

Agatharchides of Cnidus, a Greek historian and geo- 
grapher, who lived under Ptolemy Philometor (181-146 
B.C.), is the author of a geographical treatise on the Red 
Sea, which has not been preserved, but extracts of which 
have been handed down by Diodorus (II, 51) and Photius. 
"The animals called camelopardalis by the Greeks," Aga- 
tharchides relates, "present a mixture of both the animals 
comprehended in this appellation. In size they are smaller 
than camels, but shorter in the neck; as to their head and 
the disposition of their eyes they are somewhat like a pard 
(pardalis). In the curvature of the back again they have 
some resemblance to the camel, but in color and growth of 
hair they are like pards (leopards). In like manner, as they 
have a long tail, they typify the nature of this animal." 

Strabo (XVI. 4, 16) describes the giraffe after Artemi- 
dorus, a geographer and traveller from Ephesus (about 
100 B.C.) as follows:— 

"Camelopards are bred in these parts, but they do not 
in any respect resemble leopards, for their variegated skin 
is more like the streaked and spotted skin of fallow deer. 
The hinder quarters are so very much lower than the fore 
quarters, that it seems as if the animal were sitting upon 
its rump. It has the height of an ox; the fore legs are as 
long as those of the camel. The neck rises high and 
straight up, but the head greatly exceeds in height that of 
the camel. From this want of proportion, the speed of the 
animal is not so great, I think, as it is described by Artemi- 
dorus, according to whom it cannot be overtaken. It is, 
however, not a wild animal, but rather like a domesticated 
beast; for it shows no signs of a savage disposition." 

Dio Cassius, in his Roman History (XLII), alludes to 
the fact that the camelopardalis was introduced into Rome 
by Caesar for the first time and exhibited to all. He de- 
scribes the animal "as being like a camel in all respects, 
except that its legs are not all of the same length, the hind 

60 Field Museum op Natural History 

legs being the shorter. Beginning from the rump it grows 
gradually higher, which gives it the appearance of mount- 
ing some elevation ; and towering high aloft, it supports the 
rest of its body on its front legs and lifts its neck in turn to 
an unusual height. Its skin is spotted like a leopard, and 
for this reason it bears the joint name of both animals." 
This plain and clear notice is doubtless based on a personal 
experience with the giraffe. 

In the same manner as the ostrich was believed to 
resemble the camel (Leaflet 23, p. 24), Pliny (VIII, 27) 
recognized an affinity of the camel with the giraffe. He 
describes it under the name cameleopardus and locates it 
correctly in Ethiopia, where, he says, it is called nabun. 
"It has a neck like that of a horse, feet and legs like those 
of an ox, a head like that of a camel, and is covered with 
white spots upon a red ground; hence it has been styled 
cameleopard. It was first seen at Rome in the circus games 
held by Caesar, the Dictator. Since that time it has been 
occasionally seen again. It is more remarkable for the 
singularity of its appearance than for its fierceness; for this 
reason it has obtained the name of the wild sheep." In- 
deed, the giraffe was called in Latin also ovis fera ("wild 

Horace (Epistles II, 1) reproaches his fellow-citizens 
for the pleasure they take in the circus games, and on 
this occasion paraphrases the name Camelopardalis: — 

Si foret in terris, rideret Democritus, seu 
Diversum confusa genus panthera camelo, 
Sive elephas albus vulgi converteret ora. 

"Democritus, if he were still on earth, 
would deride a throng gazing with open 
mouth at a beast half camel, half panther, 
or at a white elephant." 

C. Julius Solinus (Collectanea rerum memorabilium, 
30, 19) mentions the giraffe, but merely copies Pliny. 

The poem Kynegetika ("The Hunt"), ascribed to the 
poetOppianus (second century A.D.), but written by a poet 
from Apamea, contains a remarkably good description of 

The Giraffe among the Ancients 61 

the giraffe (III, 461 ; ed. of P. Boudreaux, p. 119). "Muse! 
May thy sonorous and harmonious voice sing also of the 
animals of mixed nature formed by a combination of two 
different races among which the leopard with speckled 
back is united with the camel. Father Jupiter, what mag- 
nificence shines in thy numerous works! What an abun- 
dant variety is revealed in plants, quadrupeds, and marine 
mammals! How many gifts didst thou bestow on the mor- 
tals! Thou whose power has clothed with the leopard's 
robe this species of camel embellished with the richest 
colors, — noble and charming animals tamed by man with- 
out effort! They have a long neck, their body is sprinkled 
with various spots; short ears crown their heads devoid of 
hair in the upper part. Their legs are long, and their feet 
are large, but these limbs are unequal in size. The fore 
legs are much more elevated than those behind which are 
considerably shorter. The lame have such legs. From the 
middle of the head of these animals issue two horns which 
are not of the nature of ordinary horns; their soft points 
surrounded by hair rise on the temples and close to the 
ears. This species, like deer, has a small mouth slightly 
split and provided with small teeth as white as silk. Its 
eyes are vividly lustrous, and its tail, as short as that of a 
gazelle, is furnished with a tuft of black hair at the end." 

Oppianus is the first author who mentions the horns 
of the giraffe, but curiously enough he does not mention 
its name. 

Heliodorus from Emesa, bishop of Trikka, who lived 
in the third or fourth century A.D., has given the most de- 
tailed description of the animal, which is embodied in his 
romance The Ethiopics (Aethiopica X, 27). The envoys of 
the Axiomites of Abyssinia presented a giraffe to the king. 
"These also presented gifts among which, besides other 
things, there was a certain species of animal, of nature 
both extraordinary and wonderful. In size it approached 
that of a camel, but the surface of its skin was marked with 
flower-like spots. Its hind parts and the flanks were low, 

62 Field Museum op Natural History 

and like those of a lion, but the shoulders, fore legs, and 
chest were much higher in proportion than the other limbs. 
His neck was slender, towering up from his large body into 
a swan-like neck. His head, like that of a camel, was about 
twice as large as that of a Libyan ostrich. His eyes were 
very bright and rolled with a fierce expression. His gait 
also was different from that of every other land or water 
animal, for his legs were not moved alternately but by 
pairs, those on the right side being moved together, and 
then, in like manner, those on the left together, one side at 
a time being raised before the other, so that in walking he 
always had one side dangling. For the rest he was so tame 
and gentle in disposition that his master led him wherever 
he pleased solely by a small cord fastened around his neck, 
and he followed him wherever he wanted, as though he 
were attached to him by means of a very large and strong 
fetter. At the appearance of this creature the multitude 
was struck with astonishment, and its form suggesting a 
name, it received from the populace, from the most pro- 
minent features of its body resembling a camel and a leo- 
pard, the improvised name of camelopardalis." 

When the sacrificial animals at the altars of Helios 
and Selene (the Sun and Moon) got sight of the odd beast, 
a stampede ensued ; four white horses and a pair of bulls 
were terrified as if they had beheld some phantom, freed 
themselves, and galloped wildly away. 

Heliodorus' description is picturesque and fairly accu- 
rate, save the remark about the fierce glances of the animal, 
and is apparently based on direct observation. It is note- 
worthy that he is the first who comments on the amble of 
the giraffe (see above, p. 8). 

A giraffe (reproduced in Fig. 15) is painted as a deco- 
ration on the wall of a mortuary vault (columbarium) of 
the Villa Pamfili at Rome. The animal is conducted by a 
young guide by means of a long bridle and carries a bell 
(tintinnabulum) around its neck, a symbol of its tameness. 
On the other side of the man there is an antelope. The 

The Giraffe among the Ancients 


original has been destroyed, but a copy of the picture is 
preserved in Munich. 

Two giraffes are represented in a mosaic now pre- 
served in the palace Barberini of Palestrina (the ancient 
Praeneste, 21 miles from Rome). They are shown grazing 
and browsing (Fig. 16). 

This mosaic was discovered in 1640 and purchased by 
Cardinal Barberini, who caused a careful drawing to be 
made of it, and then had it removed to Rome for repairs 
before having it relaid in his palace at Palestrina. It is said 
to have formed the pavement of part of the Temple of 

Fig. 15. 
Roman Mural Painting of a Giraffe with Guide. 
After Daremberg and Saglio. 

Fortune at Praeneste, but this view is contested by S. 
Reinach. The upper portion of the composition illustrates 
animals of the Egyptian Sudan; they show a striking re- 
semblance to those of the tomb of Marissa. 

In the Necropolis of Marissa in Palestine there is in 
one of the tombs a painted frieze of animals of Graeco- 
Egyptian style, among these, in the opinion of the discov- 
erers of the tomb, "what is evidently intended for a giraffe" 
(J. P. Peters and H. Thiersch, Painted Tombs in the 
Necropolis of Marissa, p. 25. Palestine Exploration Fund, 


Field Museum op Natural History 

London, 1905). They describe it as follows: "The neck is 
very long, but the head, with its rounded ears and large, 
prominent eye, is much too big. The hind quarters and tail 

Fig. 16. 

Giraffes in the Mosaic of Palestrina. 

After S. Reinach, Repertoire de Peintures. 

are those of the deer, the fore legs are as long as the hind 
legs, and the withers actually lower than the rump. The 
spotted skin is represented by little black and red spots. 

Fig. 17. 
Giraffe (?) from Painted Tomb at Marissa, Palestine. 
After Peters and Thiersch. 

The title above it seems to read : Kamelopardalos." If the 
latter statement were correct, there would be no doubt of 
the artist's intention, but in the colored plate (VII) repro- 

The Giraffe among the Ancients 65 

during this portion of the frieze I cannot recognize such a 
name. Be this as it may, the drawing itself is clumsy and 
rather represents a deer with a somewhat long neck, with- 
out any peculiar characteristics of a giraffe. The animal 
was probably known to the painter only from hearsay 
accounts (Fig. 17). 

The ancients have not done justice to the giraffe, and 
have not produced any really artistic representation of it. 


Menageries were established at Constantinople during 
the eleventh century when Cortstantinus IX received an 
elephant and a giraffe from the Sultan of Egypt. These 
animals were repeatedly shown in the theatre of Byzance 
and marvelled at as wonders of nature. The Greeks were 
passionately fond of circus games and combats of ferocious 
beasts. The capture of Constantinople through the crusa- 
ders in 1203 and the subsequent pillage of the city un- 
doubtedly led to the destruction of the amphitheatre which 
is no longer mentioned after that date. Notwithstanding, 
the Byzantine emperors continued to keep exotic animals. 
In 1257 Michael Paleologus received from the king of Ethi- 
opia a giraffe which he paraded for several days through 
the streets of the city for the diversion of the Byzantines. 
This event was regarded as of sufficient importance that 
Pachymerus, the contemporaneous chronicler of the reign 
of Michael, took the opportunity of inserting in his work 
a detailed description of the animal. He emphasizes its 
gentle disposition and writes that it is so tame that it 
allows even children to play with it; it lives on grass, but 
also likes bread and barley no less than a sheep. 

Philostorgius (A. D. 364-424), author of an ecclesiastic 
history (III, 11), speaks of the animals which had come 
from Ethiopia to Constantinople, and mentions drawings 
representing giraffes which he had seen at Constantinople 
himself. He gives a very brief description of the animal, 
comparing it with a large stag. According to Gyllius, au- 
thor of a Topography of Constantinople, there were in that 
city stone statues of giraffes publicly exhibited, together 
with those of unicorns, tigers, and vultures, but they have 
since disappeared. It appears from these data that the 
giraffe must have played a certain role in Byzantine picto- 
rial and plastic art. 

The menagerie of Constantinople was visited and de- 
scribed by Pierre Belon in 1546, but no giraffe is mentioned 


The Giraffe at Constantinople 67 

by him. Thirty years later the menagerie was enriched by 
a giraffe which took part in the festivities occasioned by the 
circumcision of Mahomet III. Baudier (Histoire generate 
du Serrail, Lyons, 1659) attended these festivities, and 
describes a giraffe exhibited on this occasion in the hippo- 
drome. He makes the curious statement that its fore legs are 
four or five times higher than the hind legs. When con- 
ducted through the streets, he says, its head reached into 
the windows of the houses. 

English travellers made the acquaintance of the gi- 
raffe at Constantinople. This accounts for the fact that 
the first English picture of the animal was secured by way 
of Constantinople. 

Fig. 18 is a reproduction of the giraffe inserted in 
Edward Topsell's "Historie of Foure-footed Beastes," pub- 
lished in London, 1607. In regard to the source of his 
illustration, Topsell gives the following information: "The 
latter picture here set down was truely taken by Melchior 
Luorigus at Constantinople, in the yeare of salvation 1559. 
By the sight of one of these, sent to the great Turke for a 
present: which picture and discription, was afterwarde sent 
into Germany, and was imprinted at Norimberge." 

Fynes Moryson, author of the History of Ireland, 
offers in his "Itinerary" (1597) the following story: — 

"Here (at Constantinople) be the mines of a pallace 
upon the very wals of the city, called the palace of Con- 
stantine, wherein I did see an elephant, called philo by the 
Turkes, and another beast newly brought out of Affricke 
(the mother of monsters), which beast is altogether un- 
knowne in our parts, and is called surnapa by the people of 
Asia, astanapa by others, and giraffa by the Italians, the 
picture whereof I remember to have seene in the mappes of 
Mercator; and because the beast is very rare, I will de- 
scribe his forme as well as I can. His haire is red coloured, 
with many blacke and white spots; I could scarce reach 
with the points of my fingers to the hinder part of his 
backe, which grew higher and higher towards his fore- 

68 Field Museum op Natural History 

Fig. 18. 

Giraffe from E. Topsell's Historic of Foure-footed Beaates (1607). 

Drawn in 1559 by Melchior Luorigus at Constantinople. 

The Giraffe at Constantinople 69 

shoulder, and his necke was thinne and some three els long. 
So as hee easily turned his head in a moment to any part or 
corner of the roome wherein he stood, putting it over the 
beams thereof, being built like a barne, and high for the 
Turkish building, not unlike the building of Italy, by rea- 
son whereof he many times put his nose in my necke, when 
I thought myselfe furthest distant from him, which famili- 
arity of his I liked not; and howsoever the keepers assured 
me he would not hurt me yet I avoided these his familiar 
kisses as much as I could. His body was slender, not great- 
er, but much higher then the body of a stagge or hart, and 
his head and face was like to that of a stagge, but the head 
was lesse and the face more beautifull: he had two homes, 
but short and scarce halfe a foote long; and in the forehead 
he had two bunches of flesh, his ears and feete like an ox, 
and his legges like a stagge." 

Of the oriental words given by Moryson, his philo for 
elephant is Turkish, which is derived from Persian pil 
(Aramaic pil, Arabic fil). His word surnapa for the giraffe 
is Persian surnapa or zurndpa. 

John Sanderson, a London merchant, visited Constan- 
tinople about the year 1600, and thus relates his impres- 
sions at the first sight of a giraffe: — 

"The admirablest and fairest beast that ever I saw 
was a jarraff, as tame as a domesticall deere, and of a red- 
dish deere colour, white brested and cloven footed: he was 
of a very great height, his fore-legs longer then the hinder, 
a very long necke, and headed like a camell, except two 
stumps of home on his head. This fairest animall was sent 
out of Ethiopia, to this great Turkes father for a present; 
two Turkes the keepers of him, would make him kneele, 
but not before any Christian for any money." 


After the fall of the Roman Empire the giraffe re- 
mained unknown in most parts of Europe for about a 
thousand years. Even that small sum of knowledge which 
the late Greeks and Romans possessed of the animal was 
lost during that period, and the few mediaeval writers who 
refer to it are content to quote Solinus; thus Isidorus of 
Seville (Etymologiarum libri XX, XII, 19, and Origines 
XII, 2), who wrote about A.D. 636, and who confounds 
the camelopard with the chameleon and for the rest copies 
Solinus, and likewise Rabanus Maurus (De universo VIII 
B), abbot of Fulda and archbishop of Mayence (about 
A.D. 844). 

A new impetus to knowledge was received from the 
Arabs after their conquest of Spain. The Arabs were fond 
of animals, and an animal park belonged to the essentials 
of every Muslim court. When Abderrahman III (A.D. 
912-961) in A.D. 936 founded the city Zahra, one mile north 
of Cordova, in Spain, he established there a garden where 
rare animals and birds were kept in cages and fenced en- 
closures. This was the first zoological garden in Europe. 

In southern Europe the first great menageries were 
installed at the court of Frederick II (1212-50), king of the 
Two Sicilies. This prince, born in Sicily, rather Italian 
than German, had inherited from his Neapolitan mother a 
taste for oriental manners and a veritable passion for ani- 
mals. He made a study of birds, especially those used for 
the chase, observed them, even dissected them, and wrote 
a treatise on ornithology. He had an elephant sent to him 
from India, and he presented to the Sultan of Egypt a 
white bear in exchange for a giraffe. At Palermo, his usual 
residence, he created a sort of zoological garden which has 
been described by Otto von St. Blasio. Frederick was on 
such good terms with the Muslims that his tolerance gave 
rise to suspicions of his orthodoxy. He was in correspon- 


The Giraffe during the Middle Ages 71 

dence with the Arab philosopher Ibn Sabin. An Arab his- 
torian confesses that "the emperor was the most excellent 
among the kings of the Franks, devoted to science, philo- 
sophy, and medicine, and well-disposed toward Muslims." 

In 1261 a giraffe was presented to Manfred, a son' of 
Frederick, by the Sultan Beybars (above, p. 36). 

It was accordingly the Arabs who acquainted Euror 
pean nations with the live giraffe. This fact is also borne 
out by our word for the animal, which is derived from the 
Arabic zarafa or zurdfa. The old Spanish form azorafd has 
even preserved the Arabic article al (al-zarafa). In modem 
Spanish and Portuguese it is girafa, in French girafe (older 
French orafle or girafle), Italian giraffa. During the middle 
ages it was sometimes identified with seraph: thus E. Top- 
sell (Historie of Four-footed Beastes, 1607) still gives the 
Arabic name as Sarapha, and B. von Breydenbach's pic- 
ture of the animal is inscribed seraffa (p. 76). In Purchas 
(Pilgrims) the form ziraph occurs. Yule thinks it is not 
impossible that seraph, in its Biblical use, may be radically 
connected with the giraffe, but this hypothesis is very im- 

Vincent de Beauvais, author of the Speculum naturale 
(thirteenth century) refers to the giraffe in three different 
chapters of his work under three different names, without 
noticing that these names apply to the same animal. First, 
he describes it under the name Anabulla (evidently based 
on Pliny's Ethiopic word nabun) as having the neck of a 
horse, feet and legs of a bull, the head of a camel, and a 
skin pale red and white in color. Second, he mentions it as 
camelopardus, copying Solinus or Isidorus. Finally he 
describes it under the name Orasius, saying that in his time 
it had been transmitted to the emperor Frederick by the 
Sultan of the Babylonians. He remarks that the animal 
seems not to be ignorant of its own beauty, for when it sees 
people standing around, it turns completely so that it may 
be admired from every side, for nature has ornamented it 
with finer colors than all other beasts. 


Field Museum op Natural History 

Albertus Magnus (1193-1280), in his work De quad- 
rupedibus (XXII, 2, 1) mentions the giraffe twice, under 
the name Anabula and again under that of Camelopardu- 
lus, without recognizing the identity of the two. He gives 
Seraph as Arabic and Italian name, and writes that the 
skin, on account of its decoration, is sold at a high price; 
he also mentions the giraffe of Frederick II. Neither Vin- 
cent nor Albertus alludes to the horns. 

The Latinized form oraflus (hence older French orafle) 
is distilled from old Spanish azorafa, and the form orasius 
occurring in Vincent de Beauvais and Albertus Magnus is 
due to a misreading of / (/) for s (/), which letters were 
very similar in ancient manuscripts and printed books. 

Fig. 19. 

Cameleopardua (Alleged Giraffe). 

From the Dialogus Creaturarum Moralisatus (1486). 

The climax of all these confusions was finally reached 
by the creation of a picture of the Camelopardus recon- 
structed entirely on the basis of mediaeval literary notices 
and bearing no resemblance whatever to a giraffe. The 
animal shown in Fig. 19 is reproduced from the Dialogus 
creaturarum moralisatus, a collection of moralizing ani- 
mal fables published in Dutch (Gouda, 1480, 1481, 1483, 
and Antwerp, 1486) and translated into English under the 
title "The Dialogues of the Creatures Moralized" (London, 
1813, with the animal pictures). Our illustration is based 
on a photograph taken from an original edition of the work 
in the University Library of Leiden. The text begins, 

The Giraffe during the Middle Ages 73 

"Cameleopardus is an animal which has a hoof like a camel, 
a neck like a horse, feet and legs like a buffalo, and many 
spots as the animal pardus has on its body." Then follows 
a conversation of this fictitious creature with Christ, which 
is not of interest in this connection. A similar fantastic 
creature accompanies the early editions of Sir John Maun- 
deville's Travels as an illustration of the giraffe (p. 75). 

In contrast with this crude ignorance there are a few 
mediaeval travellers who had occasion to see giraffes and 
wrote of them somewhat sensibly. Cosmas, a Christian 
monk from Alexandria, called Indicopleustes ("the Indian 
Navigator"), in the course of his travels, visited Ethiopia 

Fig. 20. 

Camelopardalis of Cosmas Indicopleustes. 

After J. W. McCrindle, Christian Topography of Cosmas. 

about A.D. 525, and in book XI of his "Christian Topo- 
graphy" (written about A.D. 547) gives a brief description 
of the animals of the country. The giraffe is thus treated 
by him under the name Camelopardalis: "Camelopards 
are found only in Ethiopia. They also are wild creatures 
and undomesticated. In the palace [in the capital Axum] 
they have one or two that, by command of the king [Eles- 
boas], have been caught when young and tamed to make a 
show for the king's amusement. When milk or water to 
drink is set before these creatures in a pan, as is done in the 
king's presence, they cannot, by reason of the great length 
of their legs and the height of their chest and neck, stoop 

74 Field Museum op Natural History 

down to the earth and drink, unless by straddling with 
their fore legs. They must therefore, it is plain, in order to 
drink, stand with their fore legs wide apart. This animal 
also I have delineated from my personal knowledge of it." 
Like Herodotus of old, Cosmas was ever athirst after 
knowledge and possessed of some skill in drawing; he took 
much delight in covering his manuscript with sketches illu- 
strative of what he had observed, especially types of people 
and animals. His giraffe, reproduced in Fig. 20, may be 
designated as a fairly correct outline of the animal. 

A giraffe (orafle) of crystal as a gift of the Old Man of 
the Mountain to the king of France is mentioned by Jean 
Sire de Joinville (Histoire de Saint Louis, written between 
1304 and 1309). 

Marco Polo alludes to giraffes in three passages of his 
famous narrative, — for Madagascar, the island of Zanghi- 
bar (that is, the country of the Negroes), and for Abyssinia. 
Polo never visited Madagascar, and his hearsay account 
of the island contains many errors, among these the giraffe 
which never occurred in Madagascar and does not occur 
there. The interesting point, however, is that Polo is the 
first who recognized a wider geographical distribution of 
the giraffe and looked for it beyond the limits of Abyssinia 
to which all former travellers had confined it. With refer- 
ence to Zanghibar he informs us, — 

"They have also many giraffes. This is a beautiful 
creature, and I must give you a description of it. Its body 
is short and somewhat sloped to the rear, for its hind legs 
are short, while the fore legs and the neck are both very 
long, and thus its head stands about three paces from the 
ground. The head is small, and the animal is not at all 
mischievous. Its color is all red and white in round spots, 
and it is really a beautiful creature." 

In the Latin and French versions the animal's name 
is spelled graffa ; in Ramusio's Italian version, giraffa. Abys- 
sinia is called by Polo Abash (Italian spelling: Abascia; 

The Giraffe during the Middle Ages 75 

Latin: Abasia), based on Arabic Habash. He writes that 
giraffes are produced in the country. 

The knight, Wilhelm von Bodensele, whose itinerary- 
was written in 1336 at the request of the Cardinal Talley- 
rand de Perigord, saw a giraffe at Cairo, calling it geraffan. 

The earliest notice of the giraffe in English literature 
occurs in the Travels of Sir John Maundeville of St. Albans 
(chap. 94), written about the year 1356: — 

"In Araby is a kynde of beast that some men call 
Garsantes [giraffes], that is a fayre beast, and he is hyer 
than a great courser or a stead [steed], but his neck is nere 
XX cubytes long, and his crop and his taile lyke a hart and 
he may loke over a high house." The numerous manu- 
scripts of Maundeville's Travels, owing to the great popu- 
larity of the book (scarcely two copies agree to any extent), 
show many divergences, and in some of them giraffes under 
the name orafles are ascribed to Chinese Tartary, with the 
addition, "There also ben many Bestes, that ben clept 
Orafles. In Arabye, thei ben clept Gerfauntz, that is a Best 
pomelee or spotted." 

As is well known, Maundeville is a fictitious person, 
and the book going under his name was compiled by a 
physician of Liege from various sources. 

The first printed illustration of a half-way realistic 
giraffe (Fig. 21) is found in the Peregrinationes in Terram 
Sanctam ("Peregrinations into the Holy Land") by Bern- 
hard von Breydenbach, dean of Mayence. This work was 
first published in the same city in 1486, and represents the 
first illustrated account of a pilgrimage undertaken into 
the Holy Land in 1483-84, that contains views of places 
seen en route from Venice to Mount Sinai and drawn by 
Breydenbach's companion, the painter Erhard Reuwich. 
The animals sketched by him are the giraffe, inscribed 
Seraffa, crocodile, rhinoceros, capre de India ("Indian 
goat"), unicorn (a horse with narwhal's tusk), camel, sala- 
mander (gecko), and a great ape of unknown name (Simia 
sylvanus), accompanied by the statement that "these ani- 

76 Field Museum op Natural History 

Fig. 21. 

Giraffe (Seraffa) by Edward Reuwich. 
From B. von Breydenbach's Peregrinationes in Terrain Sanctam (.I486). 

The Giraffe euring the Middle Ages 77 

mals are truly depicted, as actually seen by us in the Holy 
Land"(hec animalia sunt veraciter depicta sicut vidimus 
in terra sancta). Hugh Wm. Davies, in his Bibliography of 
Breydenbach (1911), remarks that "this can be believed 
in regard to the figures of the giraffe and dromedary, which 
are admirably drawn and probably the earliest printed." 
I cannot quite approve of this charitable attitude, for the 
horns of the animal are entirely wrong; in fact, they are 
not those of a giraffe, but of an antelope or oryx, very like 
those of Oryx leucoryx, the algazel. The tail is also misrepre- 
sented; the spots are indicated by small circles. I am in- 
clined to presume that Reuwich drew the picture of the 
giraffe from memory and that in his effort to remember it 
visions of the oryx may have crossed his mind; at any rate, 
some mishap has occurred to him. 

Breydenbach's work found a wide distribution: other 
editions with the woodcuts of the animals are in Flemish 
(Mainz, 1488), in French (Lyons, 1489), in Latin (Speier, 
1490), in Spanish (Zaragoza, 1498), and some later editions, 
which go to show that in the latter part of the fifteenth 
century the giraffe was known on paper in most countries 
of Europe. Not all editions, however, contain the illustra- 
tions; thus the Newberry Library of Chicago has a Latin 
edition printed at Speier, 1486, and a French edition of 
Paris, 1522, which are minus the woodcuts. 

The whole plate of Reuwich's animal pictures was 
taken over by Nicole le Huen and reproduced in his book 
"Des sainctes peregrinations de JheYusalem et des avirons 
et des lieux prochains," published at Lyons, 1488. Joly 
and Lavocat have copied this plate and erroneously as- 
signed the giraffe and other animals to the ingenuity of 
Nicole le Huen, as Breydenbach's work was not accessible 
to them. 

A tolerably accurate sketch of a giraffe was therefore 
known in central Europe toward the end of the fifteenth 
century, but artistic representations of the animal we owe 

78 Field Museum op Natural History 

to Italian painters of about the same time, as will be seen 
in the following chapter. • 

In his famous edition of Marco Polo's Travels Henry- 
Yule comments that "the giraffe is sometimes wrought in 
the patterns of mediaeval Saracenic damasks and in Sicili- 
an ones imitated from the former." An inquiry addressed 
to the Victoria and Albert Museum of London in regard 
to these designs elicited the following information from 
Mr. S. L. B. Ashton, in charge of the Department of Tex- 
tiles: "I am afraid Yule is misleading on this question; the 
animals on these silks represent some form of deer and 
could not be taken for giraffes. I imagine that owing to the 
fact that they are usually represented in confronted pairs 
with their heads upturned, Yule mistook this length of 
neck to indicate that they were giraffes." 


The civilization of the Renaissance in Italy is char- 
acterized by the awakening of great interest in natural 
sciences, particularly in botany and zoology, and by a zeal 
for collecting curious plants and animals. During the fif- 
teenth century, botanical gardens and animal parks (Itali- 
an serraglio) were founded in many places in Italy. The 
joy of exotic beasts led to the importation of live lions, 
leopards, elephants, camels, giraffes, ostriches, and even 
crocodiles from the ports of the southern and eastern Medi- 
terranean. Arabs and Turks then were the active pur- 
veyors of menagerie animals, in the same manner as the 
Near East had played this role in the time of the ancient 

One of the chroniclers of Florence relates that in the 
year 1459, when the Pope Pius II and Maria Sforza were 
received in that city, bulls, horses, boars, dogs, lions, and a 
giraffe were enclosed on a public square, but that the lions 
lay down and refused to attack the other animals. From 
letters of contemporaries we learn that they observed that 
lions kept in captivity abandoned their ferocity; and it 
once happened, as a letter-writer remarks, that a bull 
drove them back "like sheep into their fold." 

Of the collections of exotic animals maintained by the 
princes of Italy, the most famous was the menagerie of 
Ferrante, duke of Naples, which contained a giraffe and a 
zebra, — two animals hitherto not seen in Europe. The 
duke had received them as a gift from the Caliph of Bag- 
dad, toward the end of the fifteenth century. 

Under Lorenzo di Medici the luxury in exotic animals 
reached its climax at Florence. He had, first of all, leo- 
pards trained for hunting whose fame spread into France; 
moreover, tigers, lions, and bears which he caused to com- 


80 Field Museum op Natural History 

bat with bulls, horses, boars, and greyhounds; elephants 
which, together with lions, appeared in a triumphal proces- 
sion, and finally a giraffe presented in 1486 by El-Ashraf 
Kait-Bey (1468-96), the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt. This 
animal was eulogized by the poets Angelo Poliziano and 
Antonio Costanzo, and was painted in one of the frescoes 
of the Poggio Cajano Palace in 1521. 

Poliziano took matters rather easily, and in his poem 
confined himself to the remark that he had seen Lorenzo's 
giraffe; then he proceeds to translate literally the text of 
Heliodorus cited above (p. 61). Costanzo, however, shows 
that he really observed the animal, and his data betray 
the mind of an original thinker. He criticizes Strabo for 
questioning the animal's fleetness, and reproves Pliny, 
Solinus, Diodorus, Strabo, Varro, and Albertus Magnus 
for having suppressed the fact that it is provided with 
horns. In a Latin epigram addressed by him to Lorenzo 
the giraffe is introduced as speaking to the latter and 
lodging a complaint at having thus been deprived of its 
horns by the writers of the past. Lorenzo's giraffe was so 
gentle, he says, that it would eat bread, hay, or fruit out 
of a child's hand, and that when led through the streets, it 
would take whatever food of this kind was offered to it by 

Lorenzo's giraffe met with a singular fate: it aroused 
the envy of Anne de Beaujeu, daughter of Louis XI, king 
of France, who died in 1483. Anne inherited from her 
father the love for animals, for she purchased a hundred 
and fifty-six siskins for the large aviary of the castle. She 
had dreams of owning some day a giraffe, which at that 
time was the object of curiosity at the Court of Florence 
and which she alleged Lorenzo di Medici had promised her. 

Her letter addressed to him on the 14th of April, 1489, 
from Plessys du Pare is a document curious enough to be 
placed here on record. "You know," she wrote, "that 
formerly you advised me in writing that you would send 
me the giraffe (la girafle), and although I am sure that you 

•" at 

< -g 

< b 

r o 

< 5 

x O 

The Giraffe in the Age of the Renaissance 81 

will keep your promise, I beg you, nevertheless, to deliver 
the animal to me and send it this way, so that you may 
understand the affection which I have for it; for this is 
the beast of the world that I have the greatest desire to 
see. And if there is any thing on this side I can do for 
you, I shall apply myself to it with all my heart. God be 
with you and guard you." Signed "Anne de France." 

The Medicean, however, remained deaf to this prayer 
and kept his giraffe. It seems that breach of promise suits 
were not yet instituted at that time. 

Giraffes were also kept at other Italian courts; for in- 
stance, by Alphonso II, duke of Calabria, in his villa 
Poggio Reale, and by Duke Hercules I in the Barco 
Park at Ferrara. 

A giraffe is introduced into the background of Gentile 
Bellini's painting "Preaching of St. Mark at Alexandria," 
which is in the Brera Gallery of Milan (good photograph 
in the Ryerson Library of Art Institute, Chicago). G. 
Bellini (1426-1507) was court painter to the Sultan at Con- 
stantinople from 1479 to 1481, and brought back many 
sketches on his return to Italy, doubtless also the sketch 
of a giraffe. The painting in question was left unfinished 
at his death, and was completed by his brother Giovanni. 
It is an elaborate composition: a throng of monks and tur- 
baned Orientals listening to the sermon of St. Mark on a 
huge square bordered by Moorish buildings and a cathe- 
dral in the background. At the foot of the stairway is 
planted a solitary and harmless two-horned giraffe, well 
outlined in its general features. 

In 1487 the Sultan of Turkey presented to the Sig- 
noria of Florence a giraffe which caused a profound sensa- 
tion. It was glorified in many painted portraits. Thus a 
giraffe figures in an "Adoration of the Magi" painted in the 
school of Pinturricchio (1454-1513) and now in the Pitti 
Palace of Rome. 

Andrea Vannucchi, called Andrea del Sarto (1486- 
1531), has inserted a giraffe in the procession of the Three 

82 Field Museum of Natural History 

Kings painted by him on a fresco of the Church of the 
Annunciation (Santissima Annunziata) at Florence (exe- 
cuted about 1510). He did so again in his Tribute to 
Caesar, dated 1521. 

Leo Africanus, an Arabic traveller from Granada (be- 
ginning of the sixteenth century), writes, "Of the beast 
called Giraffa. — This beast is so savage and wilde, that it 
is a very rare matter to see any of them: for they hide 
themselves among the deserts and woodes, where no other 
beasts use to come; and so soone as one of them espieth a 
man, it flieth foorthwith, though not very swiftly. It is 
headed like a camell, eared like an oxe, and footed like a... 
[a word is wanting here in the original]: neither are any 
taken by hunters, but while they are very yoong." 

Pierre Gilles of Albi (or Latinized Gellius) was sent 
in 1544 to the Orient by command of king Francois I, in 
order to "search for and amass ancient books for the king's 
library." He stopped at Constantinople and Cairo, and in 
the latter city visited the menagerie of the castle, where 
the Pasha of Egypt resided. He tells us that he found 
there three giraffes which he describes thus (in his book De 
vi et natura animalium XVI, 9) : — 

"On their foreheads are two horns six inches long, and 
in the middle of their forehead rises a tubercle to the height 
of about two inches, which appears like a third horn (in 
fronte media tuberculum existebat, velut tertium cornu, 
altum circiter duos digitos). Its neck is seven feet long. 
This animal is sixteen feet high from the ground, when it 
holds up its head. It is twenty-two feet long from the tip 
of the nose to the end of the tail; its fore legs are nearly of 
an equal height, but the thighs before are so long in com- 
parison to those behind, that its back inclines like the roof 
of a house. Its whole body is sprinkled with large spots, 
which are nearly of a square form and of the color of a deer. 
Its feet are cloven like those of an ox; its upper lip hangs 
over the under one; its tail is slender, with hair on it to the 
very point. It ruminates like an ox, and, like cattle, feeds 

The Giraffe in the Age of the Renaissance 83 

upon herbage and other things. Its mane is like that of a 
horse and extends from the top of the head to the back. 
When it walks, it seems to limp, first moving the right feet 
and then the left ones and simultaneously its sides. When 
it grazes or drinks, it is obliged to spread its fore legs very 

The interesting point is that Gilles is the first who 
mentions the third horn on the head of the Nubian giraffe. 

Andre* Thevet, who introduced tobacco into France 
(see "Introduction of Tobacco into Europe," Leaflet 19, 
p. 48), and who accompanied Gilles during part of his 
travels, likewise noticed the giraffes at Cairo, and gives a 
sketch of one in his book "Cosmographie de Levant" 
(Lyons, 1554), reproduced in Fig. 22. He writes, "I do not 
wish to pass over with silence two giraffes (girafles) which 
I saw there (at Cairo). Their necks are larger than that of 
a camel; they have on their heads two horns half a foot 
long, a small one on the front. The two fore legs are large 
and high, the hind legs are short, as may be seen in the 
accompanying figure represented as naturally as possible. 
This beast is the image of the learned and educated men, 
as Poliziano says; for these, at first sight, seem to be rough, 
rude, and peeved, although by virtue of the knowledge 
they have they are far more gracious, human, and affable 
than the others who have no knowledge whatever of sci- 
ences and virtue or who, as is commonly said, have greeted 
the Muses only at the threshold of the gate." In his "Cos- 
mographie universelle" (Vol. I, fol. 388b, Paris, 1575), 
Thevet has given a more extensive notice of the giraffe 
with a very interesting drawing (reproduced in Plate V), 
but it teems with so many errors and absurdities that it is 
not worth placing on record. He locates, for instance, the 
giraffe in India and denies its occurrence in Ethiopia. The 
giraffe (Plate V) is guided by two Arabs and driven by 
a third man; another giraffe in the background freely 
browses under palms. The bodies of the animals are un- 
fortunately misdrawn. % 


Field Museum op Natural History 

Pierre Belon (1518-64), a prominent French traveller 
and naturalist, reputed for the exactness of his observa- 
tions, saw in Cairo the same giraffes as Gilles and Thevet, 
and has given a more accurate description of them, which 
is accompanied by the quaint picture of a giraffe drawn by 
himself from life (Fig. 23). He writes, — 

"Formerly the grand lords, whatever barbarians they 
may have been, rejoiced in having beasts of foreign coun- 
tries presented to them. In the castle of Cairo we saw 

Fig. 22. 

Giraffe with Guide. 

From Andre Thevet's Cosmographie de Levant (1554). 

several of those which had been brought there from all 
parts of the world, among these the animal commonly 
called Zurnapa, by the ancient Romans Camelopardalis. 
This is a very beautiful beast of the gentlest possible dis- 
position, almost like a lamb, and more amiable or sociable 
than any other wild animal. Its head is almost similar to 
that of a stag, save that it is not so large, and bears small, 
obtuse horns»six inches long and covered with hair. There 

The Giraffe in the Age of the Renaissance 


is a distinction between the male and the female inasmuch as 
the horns of the males are longer; for the rest, both sexes 
have large ears like a cow, a tongue like an ox and black, 
and lack teeth in the upper mandible. They have long, 

Portraift de la Giraffe. 

Fig. 23. 
From Pierre Belon's Observations de Plusieurs Singularitez et Choses 
Memorables (An vers, 1555). 

straight, and graceful necks and fine, round manes. Their 
legs are graceful, high in front, and so low behind that the 
animal seems to stand erect. Its feet are like those of an 
ox. Its tail hangs down over the hocks, being round and 

86 Field Museum op Natural History 

with hair three times coarser than that of a horse. It is 
slender in the middle of the body. Its hair is white and 
red. In its gait it resembles the camel. In running, the two 
front feet go together. It sleeps with the paunch on the 
ground, and has a callosity on the chest and thighs like a 
camel. It cannot graze standing without straddling its fore 
legs, and even then feeds with great difficulty. Therefore 
it is easily credible that it lives in the fields solely on tree- 
leaves, its neck being so long that it can reach with its 
head to the height of a spear." 

Aside from exaggerating the proportion of fore and 
hind legs and the erroneous definition of the gait, Belon's 
description is fairly exact. 

A curious utilization of the hair of the giraffe is men- 
tioned in the Travels of Nicolo dei Conti of the fifteenth 
century. Conti was a pioneer of European commerce in 
the East and travelled extensively in Egypt, Arabia, Per- 
sia, and India from 1419 to 1444. At his return to Italy he 
gave an account of his journey to Poggio Bracciolini, secre- 
tary of the Pope Eugenius IV. Bracciolini interpolated in 
his manuscript some information received from emissaries 
of the Pope to Ethiopia, and the notice of the giraffe ema- 
nates from this source. Curiously enough, the animal's 
name is not given. We read in Conti's Travels, "They 
informed me that there was also another animal, nine cubits 
long and six in height, with cloven hoofs like those of an 
ox, the body not more than a cubit in thickness, with hair 
very like to that of a leopard and a head resembling that of 
the camel, with a neck four cubits long and a hairy tail: 
the hairs are purchased at a high price, and worn by the 
women suspended from their arms, and ornamented with 
various sorts of gems." 

It is a curious coincidence that a similar allusion to 
giraffe-tails occurs in the Tractatus pulcherrimus by an un- 
known author, written in the second half of the fifteenth 
century and published together with the famous letter of 
Prester John (see note on p. 97). The giraffe has hitherto 

The Giraffe in the Age of the Renaissance 87 

not been recognized in this passage, but comparison with 
Conti's account leaves no doubt of the giraffe being in- 
tended. In enumerating the animals of Ethiopia, among 
these elephant and rhinoceros, this text mentions "another 
animal in Ethiopia, as they relate, the largest; the hairs 
of its tail are sold at a great price, and are used by their 
women as a great ornament." In the same manner as in 
Conti's notice, the animal is not named, and it is certain 
that the passage must emanate from the same source, — the 
Pope's ambassadors to Ethiopia. We remember that gi- 
raffe-tails were offered as presents to King Tutenkhamon 
(above, p. 23), and it is interesting to observe how such old 
practices have been perpetuated through centuries down 
to modern times (above, p. 6). The Masai of East Africa 
still preserve the long hairs of giraffe-tails, and their girls 
use these hairs as threads to sew the beads on to their 
clothes. The natives of Kordofan still make bracelets of 
such hairs, which are traded over the Sudan. 

In H. Goebel's "Wandteppiche" (Plate 226) is repro- 
duced a carpet from the beginning of the sixteenth century, 
doubtfully referred to the manufacture of Oudenarde in 
Flanders. In this carpet are represented five giraffes 
equipped with headstalls and collar bands apparently 
decorated with jewels; one of the animals is provided 
with three horns. Their necks are straight and too long 
proportionately; anatomically incorrect and fantastic, 
they evidently were copied from drawings. 

The Art Institute of Chicago owns an interesting print 
said to be Portuguese and to date from the eighteenth cen- 
tury. It is a gift of Mr. Robert Allerton. A section of it is 
reproduced in Plate VI. The design, a giraffe guided by 
an Arab and surrounded by floral patterns, is repeated 
many times. It is a continuation of the tradition inaugu- 
rated by Thevet and Topsell. 


The first live giraffes received in France and England 
were gifts of Mohammed Ali, Pasha of Egypt, who also 
dispatched a live specimen to the Sultan at Constantinople 
and to the court of Vienna. 

In 1826 he presented a giraffe to the king of France 
who had it placed in the Jardin des Plantes of Paris, which 
had been established in 1635. This was the first living 
giraffe who made its appearance in France. Its arrival was 
a great event and caused a sensation throughout the 
country. This giraffe was a female, about two years old, 
eleven feet and six inches in height, originating from Sen- 
naar. She was about six months old when captured by 
Arabs, and was sold to Muker Bey, governor of Sennaar, 
who presented her to the Pasha. She was embarked at 
Alexandria, wearing around her neck a strip of parchment 
inscribed with several passages from the Koran and pur- 
ported as an amulet to safeguard her health and welfare. 
She was accompanied by four Arabs to guide her and by 
three cows to supply her with milk. She landed at Mar- 
seille in November, 1826, sixteen months after leaving 
Sennaar, and arrived in Paris in June of the following year 
(1827). She was introduced to the king, Charles X, who 
then resided in the castle of Saint-Cloud, and was sub- 
sequently shown to an ever-increasing multitude of people. 
Every one was eager to see her, thousands waited in line 
for hours to catch a glimpse of the animal, the whole press 
busied itself about her. Articles and poems (chansons) 
were devoted to her, and she became so popular that she 
penetrated into the realm of fashion which seized her forms 
and colors, creating dresses a la girafe, hats and neckties 
a la girafe, and combs a la girafe. At Nevers she was 
modeled in faience, at Epinal she was glorified in colored 
pictures. She even entered the sanctum of politics, and a 


The Giraffe in the Nineteenth Century 89 

bronze medal was cast, showing a giraffe who addresses 
these words to the country: ''There is nothing that has 
changed in France, there is only another beast here." This 
giraffe gladdened the hearts of Parisians for nearly twenty- 
years. It may now be seen stuffed in the Natural History 
Museum of the Jardin des Plantes. It is a curious coinci- 
dence that it is just a hundred years since this first live 
giraffe arrived in Paris, and an Associated Press dispatch 
from Paris of July 30, 1927, announces that this centenary 
will be duly celebrated. In 1843 a giraffe was presented 
by Clot Bey to the menagerie of the same museum in 

In 1827 Mohammed Ali, Pasha of Egypt, presented a 
Nubian giraffe to George IV, king of England. This was 
the first giraffe received alive in Britain. Unfortunately, it 
survived but a few months at Windsor. The animal, in its 
surroundings at Windsor; was painted by James Laurent 
Agasse; this picture is preserved in the Royal Collection 
and reproduced by Lydekker (in Proceedings of the Zoolo- 
gical Society of London, 1904, Vol. II, p. 340). A portrait of 
Mr. Cross, the animal-dealer, together with two Arabs, is 
introduced into the scenery. Owing to the immature con- 
dition of the animal, the frontal horn was not fully devel- 
oped; the animal, as shown in the painting, displays all the 
characteristics of the typical Nubian race of Giraffa camelo- 
pardalis, such as the net-like style of the markings, the 
white "stockings," and the comparatively large size of the 
spots on the upper part of the legs. 

Another painting in the Royal Collection, represent- 
ing a group of giraffes, is by R. B. Davis, a well-known 
painter, and is dated "September, 1827." It is described 
as "two giraffes belonging to George IV," and on the back 
it is titled "portrait of the Giraffe belonging to his Ma- 
jesty." According to Lydekker, this species is intended for 
the Southern or Cape form, as the old bull has no frontal 
horn, while the markings are of the blotched, instead of 
the netted, type, and the lower parts of the legs are spotted, 

90 Field Museum op Natural History 

although not quite so fully as they ought to be. Lydekker 
thinks that Davis might have taken Paterson's specimen 
of a Cape giraffe in the British Museum as his model; if 
this conclusion be correct, the painting is of very con- 
siderable interest, as that race now appears to be extinct. 

Lieutenant W. Paterson (Narrative of Four Journeys 
into the Country of the Hottentots and Caffraria in 1777- 
79, p. 127, London, 1790), who was commissioned by Lady 
Strathmore to botanize in the then unknown region of 
Caffraria, offers an excellent copper-plate representing a 
"Camelopardalis" shot by him in South Africa and de- 
scribes it as follows: "The color of these animals is in 
general reddish, or dark brown and white, and some of 
them are black and white; they are cloven footed; have 
four teats; their tail resembles that of a bullock; but the 
hair of the tail is much stronger, and in general black; they 
have eight fore teeth below, but none above; and six 
grinders, or double teeth, on each side above and below; 
the tongue is rather pointed and rough; they have no foot- 
lock hoofs; they are not swift; but can continue a long 
chase before they stop; which may be the reason that few 
of them are shot. The ground is so sharp that a horse is in 
general lame before he can get within shot of them, which 
was the case with our horses, otherwise I should have pre- 
served two perfect specimens of a male and female. It is 
difficult to distinguish them at a distance, from the short- 
ness of their body, which, together with the length of their 
neck, gives them the appearance of a decayed tree." 
Paterson sent home an immature male specimen of a 
Southern giraffe which he had shot and which was pre- 
sented by Lady Strathmore to John Hunter, the distin- 
guished surgeon. The animal's skull with some of the bones 
is still preserved in the Museum of the Royal College of 
Surgeons. The giraffe itself was finally acquired by the 
British Museum, where it was still extant in 1843, though 
in bad condition. 

The Giraffe in the Nineteenth Century 91 

In 1836, four young giraffes from Kordofan, about 
two years old, were safely received at the London Zoolo- 
gical Gardens. The animals — three males and a female — 
flourished, and became the progenitors of a long line of 
English-bred giraffes, the first calf being born in June, 
1839. It was followed by two others, the old female dying 
at the age of eighteen years. The animals continued to 
breed, and during the period between 1836 and the death 
of the last of the old stock in 1892, no less than thirty 
individuals were exhibited in the Regent's Park menagerie, 
seventeen of which had been born there. A pair of young 
animals, presented by Col. Mahon and likewise obtained 
from Kordofan, arrived in London in the summer of 

The first living example of the Southern giraffe was 
imported into Europe in 1895 for the Zoological Garden 
of London at the price of £500. It had been captured on 
the Sabi River in Portuguese territory and brought down 
to Pretoria, whence it was conveyed to Delagoa Bay and 
shipped to Southampton. 

In 1863 Lorenzo Casanova, an adventurous traveller 
and animal collector, returned from the Egyptian Sudan to 
Europe with a transport of six giraffes, the first African 
elephants, and many other rare mammals. In 1864 he 
entered with the firm Carl Hagenbeck into a contract 
according to which all animals to be secured on his future 
expeditions to Africa should be ceded to the latter. In 
1870 the largest consignment of wild animals that ever 
reached Europe arrived at Trieste, consisting of fourteen 
giraffes, ninety other mammals, and twenty-six ostriches. 
The giraffes were distributed over the zoological gardens of 
Vienna, Dresden, Berlin, and Hamburg. About that time 
the itinerant menagerie-owners and showmen also began 
to keep giraffes; thus Carl Kaufmann, famous animal- 
trainer and disciple of Gottlieb Kreutzberg, who always 
endeavored to gather novel and interesting beasts, had a 
superb collection of trained lions, tigers, elephants, hippo- 

92 Field Museum of Natural History 

potamus, rhinoceros, and giraffes. Renz, the celebrated cir- 
cus-director, utilized giraffes, antelopes, buffalo, and many 
other creatures for the equipment of his pantomime "The 
Festival of the Queen of Abyssinia." 

An inquiry addressed to the firm Carl Hagenbeck at 
Stellingen near Hamburg elicited the information that 
during the period 1873-1914 this firm imported a total of 
a hundred and fifty giraffes in four species, — Giraffa camelo- 
pardalis of Lower Nubia and Abyssinia, G. capensis of the 
Cape territory, G. hagenbecki from Gallaland, and G. 
tippelskirchi from former German East Africa. The largest 
specimen imported by Hagenbeck, about eleven and a half 
feet in height, came from the Galla country, and was trans- 
mitted to the Zoological Garden of Rome. Prior to 1914 
Hagenbeck maintained at the foot of the Kilimanjaro in 
Africa a station for captive animals, where the captured 
young giraffes moved freely in a larger kraal, as shown in 
Plates VIII-IX made from photographs due to the 
courtesy of the firm Carl Hagenbeck. In its wonderful 
park at Stellingen the giraffes occupy a large stretch of 
land with a fine building of Arabic style. Like other ani- 
mals, giraffes can be perfectly acclimatized almost every- 
where, and do not suffer from the inclemencies of the 
European winter. Among the numerous interesting 
observations recorded by Carl Hagenbeck in his memoirs 
we read also that the hairs of the giraffes adapt them- 
selves to the new conditions of life and that toward the 
end of the winter their hairs were found to be one and a 
half times longer than they usually are. 

Only young animals of about eight feet in height are 
captured. They are hunted and lassoed by horsemen. 
This is comparatively easy, but the task of accustoming 
them to their new life, caring for them and rearing them, 
above all, their transportation presents difficult problems. 
On their way to the coast the animals must run. A strap 
is placed around the base of their neck, and they are 
governed by means of two halters, one in front and one 

The Giraffe in the Twentieth Century 93 

behind. On board ship or train they are stowed in large 
boxes which in size must correspond to the height of the 
animal with its neck outstretched. The average price for 
a young giraffe before the war was about $1500-2000. At 
present when giraffes but very seldom are offered on the 
market, prices are arbitrary and fluctuating, and vary 
between $5000 and $7500. 

The Zoological Society of Philadelphia keeps records of 
all the animals that have arrived there for the zoological 
garden which is the oldest in the United States. The 
earliest record there relating to the arrival of giraffes is an 
entry under August 11, 1874, when five males and one 
female were purchased. 

The zoological garden in Lincoln Park, Chicago, re- 
ceived two giraffes, a male and a female, two years old, in 
October 1913, as a gift from Mrs. Mollie Netcher New- 
berger. The female died in December, 1915; the male, in 
May, 1919. Both were mounted, and are now on exhibi- 
tion at the Boston Store. A giraffe in the Bronx Zoological 
Garden, New York, according to newspaper reports, is 
said to have given life to three young ones. 

The London Zoological Garden now has only two 
giraffes — Maudie and Maggie. Maudie is a Nubian giraffe 
from the Sudan; and Maggie, a Kordofan giraffe, born in 
the menagerie, who has weathered twenty years of capti- 

In modern applied and commercial art the giraffe has 
not been entirely forgotten. It is familiar to our newspaper 
cartoonists. T^he advertisement of a well-known throat 
remedy is accompanied by a giraffe's head and neck. The 
British Uganda Railway displays a poster with a very 
effective colored picture of a giraffe. In the London Illus- 
trated News of May 29, 1926 appeared a series of eleven 
comical sketches of giraffes from the hand of J. A. Shep- 
herd under the title "Humours of the Zoo: Studies of Ani- 
mal Life, No. XV." As to art-crafts, I have noticed metal 

94 Field Museum of Natural History 

figures of giraffes as radiator caps on automobiles. Yet, a 
wider application might be made of this motif; for in- 
stance, in pen-racks and lamp-holders, an electric bulb being 
carried between the horns. Carl F. Gronemann, who has 
drawn the giraffe-heads for the cover and vignette of this 
leaflet, has thereby furnished excellent examples of how 
such animal designs may be employed in the graphic arts, 
for book-ornaments, bindings, or book-plates. Our sculp- 
tors and artists in oil have almost neglected this subject. 
While we have excellent photographs of both wild and 
tame giraffes, a really artistic painting or statuette of them 
remains to be done, and the inspiration coming from the 
works of the ancient Egyptians and Chinese may be help- 
ful to the modern artist. 

A very artistic picture of four giraffes browsing 
among acacias, by the American artist, Robert Winthrop 
Chanler, is now in the Mus6e du Luxembourg, Paris; 
it is reproduced in The American Magazine of Art, 1922, 
No. 12, p. 535. 


In regard to the role of the giraffe in Hottentot folk-lore (p. 29) 
compare the stories recorded by L. Schultze, Aus Namaland und Kala- 
hari (Jena, 1907), pp. 405, 417, 489, 531. The Masai of East Africa 
have a good story of the Dorobo and the Giraffe (A. C. Hollis, The 
Masai, Their Language and Folk-lore, 1905, p. 235). 

Page 35. Quatremere (Histoire des Sultans Mamlouks de 
l'Egypte, Vol. I, 1840, pp. 106-108) has extracted from Arabic manu- 
scripts quite a number of records referring to presentations of giraffes. 
Only those which are of importance on account of their historical asso- 
ciations have been mentioned by me. In regard to al-Mahdi (p. 35), 
see T. K. Hitti, Origins of the Islamic State, Vol. I, p. 381 (Columbia 
University Press, 1916). The essential point is to recognize that the 
Muslim rulers of mediaeval Egypt were exceedingly active in sending 
giraffes as gifts into many parts of the world. The Abbassid Caliphs 
had an animal park at Baghdad which has been described by a 
Greek embassy in A. D. 917 (see G. Le Strange, Journal Royal 
Asiatic Society, 1897, p. 41). — The giraffe occurs also among 
Egyptian shadow-play figures of Cairo. One of these is illustrated by 
P. Kahle, Der Islam, Vol. II, p. 173 (possibly a giraffe in Fig. 34, Vol. I, 
p. 294). — In regard to the derivation of the Arabic word zarafa from 
the Ethiopic and the relations of these words to Egyptian, compare F. 
Hommel, Die Namen der Saugetiere bei den sudsemitischen Volkern 
(1879), p. 230. — Masudi is not the first Arabic author who wrote about 
the giraffe. There is an earlier lengthy account by Al-Jahiz (who died 
in A.D. 869) in his Kitab al-hayawan ("Book of Animals"), Vol. VII, 
p. 76 of the edition published at Cairo, 1907; but the text is partially 
corrupt and very abstruse, and as its essential points are all con- 
tained in the authors cited above, I have not reproduced it. — The 
Persian story of the young giraffe (p. 39) meets with a curious parallel 
to what the Arabs say about the young rhinoceros: the period of gesta- 
tion of the mother rhino is four years, the young one stretches its head 
out of the mother's womb and browses at the trees around; at the 
lapse of four years it leaves the womb and runs away with lightning 
speed, for fear that its mother might lick it with her tongue which is so 
rough that once it licks an animal, the latter's flesh will separate from 
the bones in a moment (compare G. Ferrand in Journal asiatique, 1925, 
Oct.-Dec, p. 267). 

As Prof. Sprengling kindly informs me, one of the earliest Arabic 
references to the giraffe occurs in Bashshar Ibn Burd, the blind, de- 
formed poet of the late Omayyad and early Abbassid period, who died 
in A.D. 783. In a satire on the early Mutagilite Wasil Ibn Ata, named 
Abu Hudhaifa, nicknamed al-Ghazzal, the weaver (because he fre- 
quented the weavers to observe the chastity of their women) , when the 
latter made a derogatory exclamation about the poet's neck, he says: — 


96 Field Museum of Natural History 

Why should I be bothered by a weaver, who, if he turns his 

back, has a neck 
Like an ostrich of the desert; and if he faces you, 
The neck of the giraffe? What have I to do with you? 

Some Arabic philologists regard zarafa as a purely Arabic word 
and derive it from the Arabic root zrf, which means "assembly." 
Hence Sibawaih, the great grammarian of the Arabs, who died in A. D. 
793 or 796, writes, "God created the giraffe with its fore legs longer 
than its hind legs. It is named with the name of the assembly, because 
it is in the form of an assembly of animals. Ibn Doraid writes it zurafa 
and doubts that it is an Arabic word." Ibn Doraid, of course, is 
justified in his doubt; he was a celebrated philologist of Basra and lived 
from A. D. 837 to 934. 

The giraffe in Chinese records (p. 42) was first pointed out by H. 
Kopsch {China Review, Vol. VI, 1878, p. 277), who translated the de- 
scription of a Kilin with reference to Aden from a Chinese biography 
of Mohammed. This text, however, has no independent value, but is 
literally copied from Ma Huan's account. This brief notice induced 
De Groot to contribute to the same journal (Vol. VII, p. 72) an article 
on "The Giraffe and The Kilin," in which he tries to show that the 
Kilin of ancient Chinese tradition may be identical with the giraffe. 
This, of course, is a reversion of logic. It is impossible to assume that 
the ancient Chinese were acquainted with the giraffe, which in the 
present geological period did not anywhere occur in Asia; nor do the 
ancient descriptions of the Kilin, as assumed by De Groot, fit the 
giraffe. The climax of sinological romance is reached by A. Forke (Mu 
Wang und die Konigin von Saba, p. 141), according to whom the 
Chinese were acquainted with the giraffe in the earlier Chou period 
through the travels of King Mu to the west. The giraffe, on the other 
hand, was not recognized by Bretschneider (China Review, Vol. V, 
1876, p. 172) in the Kilin of Arabia purchased by a Chinese envoy in 
1430. O. Munsterberg (Chinesische Kunstgeschichte, Vol. II, p. 65) 
sees a "wounded giraffe" on a Han bas-relief of Teng-fung, Ho-nan. 
The animal in question is simply a deer. The alleged "giraffe-like 
Kilin" on a bronze basin of the Han period (cf. A. C. Moule in the 
article cited in the Bibliography) is the so-called spotted deer (Cervus 
mandarinus), called by the Chinese met hua lu ("plum-blossom stag"). 
Its spots are represented either by small circles or even by plum- 
blossoms of realistic style. 

The reader interested in the relations of the Chinese with the east 
coast of Africa may consult F. Hirth, Early Chinese Notices of East 
African Territories, Journal American Oriental Society, Vol. XXX, 
1909, pp. 46-57. 

The animal a-t'a-pi (p. 43) is referred to by W. W. Rockhill (T'oung 
Poo, 1914, p. 441) with the remark, "I have no means of determining 
what animal is meant." Damaliscus jimila, according to Roosevelt, 
extends from Mount Elgon and the northern highlands of Uganda 
southward over the Man Escarpment and Victoria Nyanza drainage 

Notes 97 

to what formerly was central German East Africa; westward as far as 
the Edward Nyanza and Lake Kivu; also near the coast from the Sa- 
kaki and Tana Rivers northward as far as the Juba River. The topi is 
one of the most conspicuously colored of all antelopes, being inversely 
countershaded. The body coloration is a bright cinnamon-rufous over- 
laid everywhere by a silvery sheen which gives the coat a resplendent 
effect. The red color is deepest on the head, throat, and sides and 
lightest on the rump, hind quarters, and tail, where it fades to pure 
cinnamon. The shoulders are marked by a broad black patch which 
extends down on the fore legs as far as the knees and completely circles 
the upper part of the leg. The hind quarters are marked by a much 
larger black patch which extends down on the limbs as far as the 
hocks above which it forms a complete band around the leg. 

Ma Huan's account of Aden containing the description of the 
giraffe (p. 45) was first translated by G. Phillips in Journal Royal 
Asiatic Society, 1896, pp. 348-351, and subsequently by A. C. Moule 
in the article cited in the Bibliography. 

In regard to the opossum (p. 54) cf. C. R. Eastman, Early Figures 
of the Opossum, Nature, Vol. 95, 1915, p. 89. 

Page 58. The learned S. Bochart, in his famous Hierozoicon (Vol. 

I, col. 908, 1675) rejected the opinion that Aristotle was acquainted 
with the giraffe, but subsequently Pallas, Allamand, G. Schneider in his 
translation of Aristotle's History of Animals, as well as Joly and Lavo- 
cat, have championed the opposite view, which, however, is untenable. 
O. Keller (Die antike Tierwelt) offers little on the giraffe; he does not 
place the accounts of the ancients on record, nor does he discuss them. 
H. Rommel (Die naturwissenschaftlich-paradoxographischen Exkurse 
bei Philostratos, Heliodoros und Tatios, 1923, p. 61) gives a brief 
critical evaluation of the texts. 

An interesting essay on the former statues in Constantinople 
(p. 66) was written by R. M. Dawkins, Ancient Statues in Mediaeval 
Constantinople, Folk-lore, Vol. XXXV, 1924, pp. 209-248. 

The text of Jean de Joinville (p. 74) is as follows: "Entre les autres 
joiaus que il envoia au roy, li envoia un oliphant de cristal mount bien 
fait, et une beste que Ton appelle orafle, de cristal aussi, pommes de 
diverses manieres de cristal, et jeuz de tables et de eschiez; et toutes ces 
choses estoient fleuretees de ambre, et estoit li ambres liez sur le cristal 
a beles vignetes de bon or fin." — Natalis de Wailly, Histoire de Saint 
Louis par Jean Sire de Joinville (1878), p. 163. 

The complete title of this curious little work ( p. 86 ) is Tractatus 
pulcherrimus de situ et dispositione regionum et insularum tocius 
Indiae, nee non de rerum mirabilium ac gentium diversitate. A 
critical editon of the text is given by F. Zarncke (Der Priester Johannes 

II, pp. 174-179). 

B. Laufer. 


Bryden, H. A. — On the Present Distribution of the Giraffe South 
of the Zambesi. Proceedings Zoological Society of London, 1891, 
pp. 445-447. 

Great and Small Game of Africa. London, 1899. Giraffe: 
pp. 488-510. 

Burckhardt, J. — Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien. 2 vols. 12th 
ed. Leipzig, 1919. 

Eastman, C. R. — Early Representations of the Giraffe. Nature, Vol. 
94, 1915, pp. 672-673. 

Illustration of the giraffe of Pamfili (incomplete) after O. 
Keller and an Egyptian design from Thebes after Ehrenberg. 

More Early Animal Figures. Nature, Vol. 95, 1915, p. 589. 

Two Egyptian figures, one after Wilkinson, another from 
Hierakonpolis after Quibell. 

Chinese and Persian Giraffe Paintings. Nature, Vol. 99, 
1917, p. 344. 

Chinese painting of A. W. Bahr representing giraffe and 
accompanied by erroneous conclusions (see above, p. 49). 

Giraffe and Sea Horse in Ancient Art. American Museum 
Journal, Vol. XVII, 1917, p. 489. 

Same matter as preceding article. 

Ferrand, G. — Le nom de la giraffe dans le Ying yai cheng Ian. Jour- 
nal Asiatique, July-August, 1918, pp. 155-158. 

In this very interesting article G. Ferrand makes the point 
that the Chinese name k'i-lin for the giraffe is based on Somali 
giri or geri. This ingenious supposition is not entirely convincing for 
several reasons. First, a direct contact of the Chinese with the 
Somali is unproved. Second, the old Chinese pronunciation gi-lin 
holds good only for the T'ang period, not for the fifteenth century 
when the Chinese actually made the acquaintance of the giraffe and 
when the word was articulated k'i-lin as at present. Third, the name 
k'i-lin was applied to the animal in China when it arrived there as 
early as 1414, the Chinese naturally believing that it virtually was 
the k'i-lin of their ancient lore. Ferrand insists that Ma Huan heard 
the Somali word giri at Aden, but Ma Huan himself did not visit Aden; 
his account of Aden is based on the report of the eunuch Li who 
was at Aden in 1422, but at least eight years earlier the giraffe 
was designated k'i-lin on Chinese soil. For these reasons the So- 
mali hypothesis appears to me unnecessary. The question is 
merely of an adaptation of an old name to a novel animal, not of 


Bibliography 99 

an attempt at transcribing a foreign word. The Somali name was 
not transmitted anywhere; it was the Arabic name zurafa which 
was conveyed both to China and to Europe. 

Grabham, G. W. — An Original Representation of the Giraffe. Nature 
Vol. 96, 1915, pp. 59-60. 

Reproduction from G. A. Hoskins, Travels in Ethiopia (1835), 
of a giraffe from an Egyptian monument, with reference to East- 
man's articles in Nature. 

Hagbnbeck, C. — Von Tieren und Menschen, Erlebnisse und Erfah- 
rungen. Berlin, 1908. 

Joly, N., and Lavocat, A. — Recherches historiques, zoologiques, ana- 
tomiques et pateontologiques sur la girafe. Memoires de la Soci- 
6t6 des sciences naturelles de Strasbourg, Vol. Ill, 1846, pp. 1-124 
in quarto. 17 plates. 

This is the most extensive monograph on the giraffe ever 
published and particularly good in the historical section. The authors 
give the complete texts of Greek, Latin, Byzantine and mediaeval 
writers on the giraffe, but English authors are neglected, and 
Oriental lore was unknown at that time. 

Loisel, G. — Historie des menageries de l'antiquite a nos jours. 3 vols. 
Paris, 1912. 

Lydekkbr, R. — On Old Pictures of Giraffes and Zebras. Proceedings 
of the Zoological Society of London, 1904, Vol. II, pp. 339-345. 
Refers to the English paintings of giraffes mentioned on p. 89. 

Maxwell, W. — Stalking Big Game with a Camera in Equatorial 
Africa. New York, 1924. Chap. VI: Camera Incidents with the 
Masai Giraffe. 

Moule, C. A. — Some Foreign Birds and Beasts in Chinese Books. 
Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1925, pp. 247-261. 

The value of this article rests on the fact that for the first 
time illustrations of animals from a Chinese book of the fifteenth 
century are given, but the data are not critically digested. 

Phipson, Emma. — The Animal-lore of Shakespeare's Time, pp. 130- 
133. London, 1883. 

Renshaw, G. — Natural History Essays. London, 1904. The North- 
ern Giraffe, pp. 99-113; 5 illustrations. 

Roosevelt, T. and Heller, E. — Life-histories of African Game Ani- 
mals. 2 vols. New York, 1914. Chap. XI: The Reticulated and 
Common Giraffes. 

100 Field Museum op Natural History 

Salze. — Observations faites sur la girafe envoyee au roi par le Pacha 
d'Egypte. Memoires du Museum d'histoire naturelle, Paris, Vol. 
XIV, 1827, pp. 68-84. 

This is the first description of the giraffe in France based on a 
live specimen and enriched by information given by the Arab 
guides of the animal. 

Winton, W. E. de. — Remarks on the Existing Forms of Giraffe. 
Proceedings Zoological Society of London, 1897, pp. 273-283. 

Yule, H.— Hobson-Jobson. London, 1903. "Giraffe": pp. 377-378. 

The quotations given are mere extracts and not complete; 
the translations from Greek authors are very inexact.