The Little Canon


This book contains the Arabic text of Mahmud ibn Muhammad al-Jaghmini’s medical book, the Qānūncha, or Qānūnja. The title refers to Avicenna's seminal work on medicine, al-Qānūn (The canon). The suffix -cha is a diminutive in Persian, so the title of al-Jaghmini's work can be translated as the Little Canon or Mini-Canon. The name al-Jaghmini refers to the place of origin of the author in modern-day Uzbekistan (known during al-Jaghmini’s time as Khwarazm). The author of the Qānūncha has been occasionally identified with the 13th-century astronomer Mahmud ibn Muhammad ibn ʻUmar al-Jighmini (died circa 1221), who wrote a hugely popular work, the Mulakhkhaṣ fi al-hay’a (Epitome of astronomy), though such an identity is controversial. A popular medical work, Mahmud al-Jaghmini’s Qānūncha inspired a large number of commentaries. A marginal note in one such commentary by Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn al-Tabib al-Misri (Gotha 1930) lists al-Jaghmini's year of death as 745 AH (1344−45), which, if correct, would preclude a unitary identity for the two authors in question. The Qānūncha is written in ten chapters: 1. On Natural Philosophy; 2. On Anatomy; 3. On the Explication of the States of the Body; 4. On the Pulse; 5. On Health and Sickness; 6. On Diseases of the Head; 7. On Diseases of Organs Housed Between the Chest and the Navel; 8. On the Diseases of the Remaining Organs; 9. On the Visible Afflictions of the Body and Protection Against These; and 10. On the Properties of Food and Drink. Each of these chapters is further divided into sections. For example, Chapter 5, On Health and Sickness, has ten sections: 1. Management of Food and Drink; 2. On Exercise and Massage; 3. On Bathing; 4. Management of Sleep and Wakefulness; 5. On the Joints, 6. Management of Pregnancy and Nursing; 7. Management of Childhood, Youth, and Old Age; 8. On the Treatment of Joint Disease; 9. On Bloodletting and Cupping; and 10. On Vomiting, Diarrhea, and Enemas. Chapter 6, On the Diseases of the Human Head, contains 13 sections: 1. Headaches; 2. Vertigo; 3. Melancholia; 4. Seizures; 5. Stroke; 6. Palsy; 7. Rheum; 8. Ophthalmia; 9. On the Weakness of the Eye and the Flowing of Tears; 10. On Earaches; 11. On Diseases of the Nose; 12. On Toothaches; and 13. On Tonsillitis. The manuscript contains numerous marginal notes in Turkish and Persian. The pages leading up to the main text include a poem and a list of contents for the Qānūncha, both of which are in Persian. The colophon begins in Arabic: "This copy of the medical work called the Qānūncha, which is one of the compositions of Maḥmūd b. Muḥammad al-Chaghmīnī, was completed on the fourth of Ramadan of the year 1275." It continues in Persian: "It was rendered by the hand of Mullā Muḥammad Sāliḥ ibn Mullā Muḥammad Naẓar the Turkmen from Lab-i āb, in the dependencies of Kermine." Kermine refers to present-day Navoiy, Uzbekistan, which at the time was under the rule of the Emirate of Bukhara.

Last updated: July 6, 2015