The Anvār-i Suhaylī or Lights of Canopus — commonly known as the Fables of Bidpai in the West — is a Persian version of an ancient Indian collection of animal fables called the Panchatantra.
The tales follow the Persian physician Burzuyah on a mission to India, where he finds a book of stories collected from the animals who live there. Much like in the Arabian Nights (which actually uses several of the Panchatantra stories), the fables are inter-woven as the characters of one story recount the next, with up to three or four degrees of narrative embedding.
Many of the fables offer insightful glimpses into human behaviour, and emphasise the power of teamwork and loyalty: one passage describes how a hunter catches a group of pigeons in a net, only for them to be saved by a mouse who gnaws through the rope.
The version celebrated in this post hails from nineteenth-century Iran and is particularly notable for its exquisite illustrations — scenes of tortoise-riding monkeys, bird battles, conversing mice, delicate purple mountains — 123 in total.
The artist behind the images is not mentioned, but the creator of the equally elegant nasta’liq style writing which they serve, is named by The Walters Art Museum (who hold the manuscript) as one Mīrzā Raḥīm.
While in Krabi, Thailand, Philadelphia-based photographer Will Strathmann captured an astonishing image of how bioluminescent phytoplankton surrounds swimmers in circles of blue light.
He posted the photo to Your Shot with the caption: “Sometimes you get lucky and stumble upon an experience that truly rocks your world… [I] heard that the bioluminescence were beginning to peak under the new moon.
Imagine swimming through the ocean as thousands of microscopic plankton light up at your finger tips, flickering blue as you move through the water.
While this photo doesn’t come close to the actual experience, I am proud I was able to capture, and now share this magical moment.
Image Credit: Photograph by Jamil Bin Mat Isa/Shutterstock.
Contributor Becky Crew .
This plucky little bird belongs to the treeswift family, alongside the very dapper moustached treeswift and the crested and grey-rumped treeswifts.
Hailing from India and South East Asia, including Indonesia, New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands, treeswifts inhabit all kinds of environments, from mangroves and woodlands, to dense, tropical forests.
A few have even made it to Australia, but they’re classified as vagrants, which means they’ve never managed to establish an actual population here.
Unlike members of the true swift family, which – oddly enough – are incapable of perching, treeswifts can perch, and are arguably prettier birds, with more noticeable markings and more elaborate colouring.
They’re also not social like true swifts are, but that doesn’t mean they don’t take family very seriously.
During the breeding season, between February and August, whiskered treeswifts will pair up, and the male and female will build a little nest in the shape of a half-saucer up in the forest canopy.
This nest is so tiny, it can only hold a single egg, which the parents will manoeuvre into an upright position in the nest, as if it’s sitting in an eggcup made of twigs, feather down, and saliva.
If you’re lucky enough to have spent a few months bouncing among the 7000 islands that make up the vast oceanic territory we call the Philippines, you’ll have doubtless noticed something extraordinary about this civilization whose artifacts date back some 60 thousand years: there is virtually no ancient architecture.
But if you drop into the meandering ethnographic art museum here called the Quai Branly, you will find a stunning array of exquisite and intimate pre-colonial objects from the daily lives of the islands’ kings, queens and warriors.