ʿAnqāʾ Mughrib: The Poetics of a Mythical Creature

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In early Arabic literature, ʿAnqāʾ Mughrib is the name of the quintessential mythical bird. The ʿAnqāʾ appears in a myriad of medieval sources of different genres: poetical, narrative, proverbial, scientific, philosophical, and mystical. This paper draws attention to the multiple ways in which this bird was represented and the functions it fulfilled in different literary contexts. It explores the intricate web of quotations, allusions, and literary innovations that facilitated its multifarious uses and re-uses. I explore the various manifestations of the ʿAnqāʾ to demonstrate the different and at times contradictory meanings ascribed to it and its diverse literary functions: as a creature of speculative zoology; as metaphor of scarcity or non-existence; as a metaphor of God; as a marker of fictionality; and more.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-103
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Abbasid Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2020.


  • allegory
  • ʿAnqāʾ Mughrib
  • fictionality
  • intertextuality
  • mythical creatures
  • translation
  • 'Anqā'Mughrib
  • mythicalcreatures


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