This detail of birds is from a decorated page in a breviary – a book of prayers – dating from about 1480. At the time of the Polynesian settlement of New Zealand (1250–1300), European understanding of the natural world was based largely on folklore and biblical traditions. Animals also featured in bestiaries (books about real and fabled creatures), and plants in books known as herbals. In Europe it would be another 200 years before a scientific revolution brought a more rigorous approach, based on accurate descriptions.
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Auckland City Libraries - Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero, Sir George Grey Special Collections
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