Anka

Giant Bird of West Asia.

Etymology: Turkish word, originally from the Arabic 'anka'. (Incidentally, anka means "sparrow hawk" in the Quechuan language of the Andes.)

Variant names: Angka, Anka ku┬žu, Anka-mo-grel, Zumrut anka.

Physical description: Female has eight wings. Male is multicolored with a white ring around its long neck. Wingspan is the breadth of five elephants (roughly 20 feet).

Behavior: Terrifying call. Preys on large mammals, birds, and humans. Carries off children.

Habitat: High mountain peaks. Distribution: Caucasus Mountains, Russia. Significant sightings: The prophet Hanzala ibn Safwan saved his people by killing the Anka, to whom a youth was sacrificed every day.

An Anka was said to have been housed in the zoological gardens of the Fatimid dynasty in the eleventh century (possibly in the capital at al-Mahdiyah, Tunisia).

Possible explanation: Based originally on a species of heron in Egypt, possibly a surviving Giant heron (Ardea bennuides), which may have inspired the Bennu Bird symbol.

Present status: After the introduction of Islam, the Anka became associated with the SlMURGH.

Sources: M. Th. Houtsma et al., eds., The Encyclopaedia oflslam (Leiden, the Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1913), vol. 1, p. 356, and new ed., 1960, vol. 1, p. 509; Joe Nigg, A Guide to the Imaginary Birds of the World (Cambridge, Mass.: Apple-Wood, 1984), pp. 45-47.

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