Struthiocamelus: The Ostrich

Dublin Core


Struthiocamelus: The Ostrich


Struthiocamelus: Ostrich Illustration


On this page of "Arca Noë”, Kircher presents the reader with a depiction and description of an ostrich. The image is located in the top left corner of the page which is the first location a reader’s eyes look in the sequence of text. The ostrich image takes up about a quarter of the page, measuring approximately 7.5 x 11.1 cm. In the image the ostrich is standing with its left foot in front of the other as if it were about to walk. The animal has a large, rounded body atop of two long, spindly legs with two massive claw-like feet. Stretching out from the bulbous body is a tall, skinny neck and head. The bird is decorated with impressive feathers on the back of its body and on its wings. The neck, thighs, and head, however, are covered in tightly woven shorter feathers. The most magnificent aspect of the bird is its sheer size. This is demonstrated in the image by the size of the bird’s feathers and head in relation to the body as a whole. The rolling terrain in the background can also serve as a reference for the massive size of the bird. The bird appears stiff as its legs are not bent yet the bird appears to be in motion. The lack of proportion in image gives the reader the impression that it is a bulky bird.

In the description of the ostrich, Kircher is most interested in the monstrous size of the bird. He states that it is the biggest species of all birds and is four times the size of an average bird. It is necessary to convey the accuracy of the physical attributes of the creature through the description as the image does not contain a scale. Kircher describes the ostrich as a cross between bird and camel. He establishes his authority by describing the mannerisms and habits of the ostrich. He states that it has a very unsteady walk and uses both its legs and its wings when it moves. Kircher also mentions that the ostrich devours and digests a great deal of iron. This part of the description serves as a justification for the ostriches’ acceptance onto the ark and also serves as a source of information on this exotic bird.

The illustration is created by use of a woodcut technique. A woodcut is a technique used to mass produce printed images. It is a form of relief printing where an artist carves an image into a flat surface of wood. The parts of the image that are printed are raised up from the rest of the wood. After ink is rubbed over the wood, the wood is pressed into a page in order to create the image. Woodcuts take relatively little pressure to apply to a page in comparison to other forms of image production, allowing them to be easily added to pages containing text. The woodcut technique is easily identifiable by the thick, dark lines used in the image. The hills and background terrain of this image are composed of the characteristically heavy lines of woodcut images.


Athanasii Kircheri
(Athanasius Kircher)


Arca Noë

Page Number



Amstelodami, Apud J. Janssonium à Waesberge






This is a monograph page with a printed image of an ostrich. The ostrich illustration is made by use of a wood cut. The page is approximately 37.6 x 22.9 cm and the printed ostrich illustration is approximately 7.5 x 11.1 cm.


Dakota Goodchild Ortiz

Items in the Struthiocamelus: The Ostrich Collection

Arca Noe, Page_78_Illustrations.jpg
Description and illustration of a Struthiocamelus (Ostrich) on Arca Noë.