The Book of Medicinal and Nutritional Terms


This manuscript is a copy of Kitab Al-jami li-mufradat al-adwiya wa al-aghdhiya (The book of medicinal and nutritional terms), an alphabetical encyclopedia by the Andalusian author, ‘Abd Allāh ibn Aḥmad ibn al-Bayṭār al-Mālaqī (circa 1197–1248), containing the names and properties of more than 1,000 plants and substances of medicinal value.  The author quotes many earlier scientists, including Dioscorides, Galen, and Avicenna. Ibn al-Bayṭār was born in Malaga, hence the reference al-Mālaqī in his name, and the text contains numerous references to Andalusia and to Andalusian place-names such as Ronda. The present manuscript copy consists of 91 pages of 25 lines each and is incomplete, containing only a small fraction of the original. It concludes somewhat abruptly near the end of the entries starting with the letter , at the item bīsh. The original text of Ibn al-Baytār has at this point: “Some physicians have said that al-bīsh grows in the lands of China … they eat it while it is green in the land of Halāhal near the Sind." The last page of the present manuscript has a spurious ending with a modified text as follows: "They eat it while it is green, for seven days in the mornings and nights for it is beneficial as we have said." The alteration presumably was made to disguise the incomplete nature of the manuscript. The short colophon reads: “Prayers and peace upon our master Muhammad and upon his family and his companions. This book was completed through the aid of the Lord and the goodliness of His succor. Amen." The name of Ibrahim Pasha (1789–1848), the eldest son of Muhammad Ali Pasha, renowned governor of Egypt, appears on the cover as a previous owner of this manuscript.

Last updated: November 6, 2012