Les légendes relatives à l'origine hybride et à la naissance des girafes selon les auteurs arabes

Abstract : Two legends concerning the hybrid nature and the birth of giraffes are frequently cited in Arabic sources. The first legend explains that the giraffe is a hybrid of the camel, the ox and the hyena, sometimes appearing after two generations. This legend was probably influenced by Ancient Greek zoology, especially that of Timotheus of Gaza. Because of the supposedly hybrid nature of the camel, its alimentary status under Islamic dietary laws was a subject of long debate amongst religious scholars. As the hybrid off-spring of a hyena, the giraffe would be unclean; as the off-spring of a ruminant such as cattle, its flesh would be pure and fit to be eaten. Another legend, related to the dangerous birth of baby giraffes, indicates that they may be attacked and killed by their mothers just after giving birth. The legend was not seen as a contradiction to the story of their hybrid nature. Observation of the birth of giraffes in captivity in Cairo menageries did not undermine the theory that giraffes were hybrids which had a long afterlife in 'books of marvels', encyclopaedias and geographic treaties up until the Ottoman period.
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Thierry Buquet. Les légendes relatives à l'origine hybride et à la naissance des girafes selon les auteurs arabes. Bulletin d'Etudes Orientales, Institut Français du Proche-Orient (IFPO), 2014, 62 (2013), pp.125-147. ⟨halshs-00990680⟩

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