The Canon of Medicine


Al-Husayn Ibn Abdullah Ibn Sīnā (980–1037), commonly known by the Latinized version of his name Avicenna, was born near Bukhara in Persia (present-day Uzbekistan). He was the most famous and influential of the many Islamic scholars, scientists, and philosophers of the medieval world. He was foremost a physician but was also an astronomer, chemist, geologist, psychologist, philosopher, logician, mathematician, physicist, and poet. His Al-Qānūn fī al-ṭibb (The canon of medicine) became the authoritative reference on medicine in the Middle Ages, not only in the Islamic world but, in Latin translations, in Europe as well. Presented here is a manuscript of the complete canon, in five parts. The colophon indicates that the copy was made in 1006 AH (1597 AD) by Abd al-Karim al-Qutbi al-Hanafi. The manuscript is in a medium-sized Nakshi script. The text is gilt ruled, 39 lines per page. Catchwords and headings are in red, blue, and gold. Two leaves of notes in Arabic and Persian appear at the end. The manuscript was a gift of Harvey Cushing (1869–1939), a Yale-educated neurosurgeon, whose collection of rare medical books forms a key part of the Medical Historical Library in the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library, Yale University.

Last updated: October 24, 2012