Sketchbook Page 34: A is for Al-mi’raj (Oryctolagus monoceros)
March 6, 2012 § Leave a comment
Bones from a Bestiary part 1: A is for Al-mi’raj
This is the first of a series of chimerical creatures; the aim is to create an alphabet of fabulous beasts over the coming months.
With recent advances in genetic engineering it should be possible to manufacture such creatures in the laboratory; although the results will not always be practical (or, indeed, humane) …
Al-mi’raj is a mythical beast from Islamic poetry said to live on a mysterious island called Jezîrat al-Tennyn within the confines of the Indian Ocean. Its name can be broken up several different ways, though is generally seem truncated as Mi’raj, Mir’aj or just Miraj. Its name is also synonymous with Muhammad’s ascent into heaven.
Al-mi’raj is a large, harmless-looking yellow rabbit with a single, 2-foot-long (0.61 m), black, spiraling horn protruding from its forehead, much like that of a unicorn.
Despite its docile appearance, Al-Mir’aj is actually a ferociously territorial predator known to be able to kill animals and people many times their own size with a few stabs of its horn. It also has an immense appetite and can devour other living things several times its size without effort. Al-Mir’aj frightens other animals and they will always flee from its presence due to this.
The people of the island were so terrified of Al-Mi’raj eating them and their livestock that they would turn to witches to ward them away as soon as the rumor of a Miraj met their ears. It was reported that only a true witch would charm the Miraj, rendering it harmless so the people could remove the Miraj from the area.
Splicing genes from the Narwhal* (Monodon monoceros) into those of a rabbit might serve to create a contemporary Al-Mi’raj – although its efficiency as a grazing animal might be somewhat compromised …
The Narwhal often grows a long, spiralling single tooth (hence the species name monoceros). Believed to be a cure for melancholia, they were traded as ‘unicorn horns’ during the middle ages.
See also: Anubis