Wikipedia:BorgiaMap page gives this detail,

The Borgia map includes a legend referring to Ebinichibel, who is described as "the Saracen Ethiopian king with his dog-headed people".

Is this related to any historical/legendary figure?

I don't know of any Ethiopians who ruled Saracens or vice versa, except Abraha of Axumite Kingdom who ruled a small portion of Yemen for a brief period.

Searching this term just gives links to the same map with the same detail.

  • 4
    Various early travel writers believed that dog-headed men existed. I think Ethiopian here indicates 'African' or 'Black' rather than someone from modern Ethiopia. Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 10:42
  • Documenting preliminary research will improve both the probability of an answer and the quality of the answer(s) All of the mentions of Ebinichibel I can find refer to the Borgia map. This may be our only record of the myth, other than as KateBunting mentions
    – MCW
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 13:13
  • 3
    Saracen was at one point just the word used to describe anyone adhering to the Islamic faith.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 14:08
  • Pliny the Elder writes about dog-headed people somewhere in India or Ethiopia, though from context it is more likely that India is meant.
    – Jan
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 18:40
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    Tracing the citations from Wikipedia leads to Harley & Woodward's The History Of Cartography (1987), p. 332, note 226: it gives the exact quote "Ebinichibel rex est sarracenos ethiopicos cum populo suo habiens caninam" and cites "Almagià, Vaticana, 1:27–29 and plate XI (note 83)." Sadly at that point the trail leaves the Internet, AFAICT. Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 3:44

1 Answer 1


John Block Friedman in The Monstrous Races in Medieval Art and Thought, Syracuse 2020, p.67 (via google books) treats it as a fictional name (in a league with stuff from the Alexander romance) and claims that Ebinichibel is a distorted transliteration of the Arabic "Banu Kalb", "sons of a dog". Which one may or may not find entirely convincing, especially regarding the relative positions of the "l" and the "b". But it certainly does look somewhat plausible.

There actually was an Arabic tribe called Banu Kalb in the early Middle Ages, but it does not seem that there is an obvious relation.

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