Farah’s Encyclopedia of Nature

This Persian manuscript contains the text and accompanying illustrations of Faraḥ nāmah (Farah’s encyclopedia of nature), also known by the title Ajayib al-dunya (Wonders of the world). The work is a treatise on natural history by al-Muṭahhar ibn Muḥammad al-Yazdi (flourished circa 1184). The manuscript was copied in the 17th century in a large Taliq script, and is illuminated with detailed multicolored illustrations of animals, birds, plants, rocks, and humans. Persian miniature painting was becoming a fine art genre in the 12th–13th centuries, and portrayal of the human figure was permitted in Islamic countries in lay contexts. The images here are in bright fresh colors, mostly in two dimensions, but occasionally with the suggestion of perspective. The very varied layout, with illustrations large and small in differing positions on the page and sometimes breaking through the text frame, gives the work great liveliness. The manuscript is at the Medical Historical Library in the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library, Yale University.

The Complete Art of Medicine

Kitāb Kāmil al-ṣināʻah al-ṭibbīyah: al-maʻrūf bi-al-Malaki (The complete art of medicine) is the only known work by Ali Ibn al-Abbas al-Majusi (died 994), also known by his Latinized name, Haly Abbas. Al-Majusi was born near Shiraz, Persia (present-day Iran), early in the 10th century. Little is known about his background, but his nickname, al- Majusi, suggests that he or his father was originally a Zoroastrian. He trained as a physician and served King Adud al-Dulwa (died 983), to whom the Kitab Kamil is dedicated. The work consists of 20 treatises: ten on the theory and ten on the practice of medicine. Al-Majūsī is noted for his accurate description of pleurisy; his understanding of veins, arteries, and the circulatory system; and his recognition of the importance of diet, rest, and physical exercise in maintaining health. Kitab Kamil was partially translated into Latin as early as 1089 and was widely circulated in Europe in manuscript and later in print editions. The manuscript is copied in a clear small Naskh script, 29 lines per page. The text is ruled with blue and gold lines. Headings and other catchwords, which appear below the text, are in red. A table of contents precedes the text. The date in the colophon, 841 AH (1437–38 AD) is questionable, as it was added at the end of the text in a different hand. 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.

A Compendium of Medicine

The author of this untitled medical treatise is unknown. The introduction states that the work consists of four chapters: 1) on the basic principles of classification of medical sciences; 2) on medication and nutrition; 3) on diseases that infect certain parts of the body; and 4) on diseases that infect other parts of the body. The main text is in Arabic, and some notes are in Persian. The manuscript, written in a Nastaliq script with nine lines per page, is difficult to date because the colophon is missing. A printed note, probably clipped from an old catalog, is mounted on the last blank page and states: "A very fine and unpublished Persian [sic] manuscript on medicine in red leather binding of 17th century." It cannot be confirmed whether the treatise in fact dates from the 17th century or that it was ever published. The manuscript is at the Medical Historical Library in the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library, Yale University.

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.

A Treasury of Medicine

Thābit ibn Qurrah al-Ḥarrānī (died 901) was born in Harran, present-day Turkey, and died in Baghdad. A member of the Sabian religious sect, he was an astronomer, physician, mathematician, and fluent in Syriac, Arabic, and Greek. Kitāb al-Dhakhīrah fī ʻilm al-ṭibb (A treasury of medicine) contains 31 chapters, starting with hygiene and ending with sexual intercourse. This manuscript was probably copied in the 16th century and is bound with Sharḥ Urjūzat Ibn Sīnā fī al-ṭibb by Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad ibn Rushd (1126–98), known also by the Latinized version of his name, Averroës. There is no title page. The work itself is written in a neat medium-sized naskh script. Some interlinear and marginal corrections are present and catchwords appear on the bottom of the pages. The off-white paper is glazed, and the book’s leather binding flap is blind stamped. 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.

On Anatomical Procedures

The Greek physician Galen (Jālīnūs in Arabic, circa 131–201) was one of the greatest medical writers in classical times, and one of the most prolific. He was born in Pergamon, in present-day Turkey, and spent much of his life in Rome, where he promoted the ideas of Hippocrates. He emphasized dissection (of apes and pigs), clinical observation, and thorough examination of patient and symptoms. Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq al-ʻIbādī (circa 809–73), a renowned translator of Greek medical texts, translated Galen's major work, On Anatomical Procedures, from Greek into Arabic under the title Kitāb Jālīnūs fī 'amal al-tashrīh. This copy of the translation may date from the 16th century. The script appears in a neat, medium-sized naskh on paper that is brittle and is light brown with some glazing. 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.

Tables of the Body for Treatment

Between 1050 and 1150, a new medical literary form was espoused by several physicians living in different cities in the Arab world—the tabular form. One of these physicians was Yaḥyá ibn ʻĪsá ibn Jazlah, a Christian born in Baghdad, who converted to Islam in 1074 and died in Baghdad in 1100. In this work, Taqwīm al-abdān fī tadbīr al-insān (Tables of the body for treatment), Ibn Jazlah divides diseases into 44 categories. Each category comprises eight conditions, and each condition is discussed in 12 columns, with the following titles: Name of the condition or the disease, Humors, Age, Seasons, Countries, Prognosis, Causes, Signs, Diaphoresis, Royal treatment, Simple treatment, and Remarks. This manuscript probably was copied in the 16th century and is mostly in clear medium-sized naskh and nastaʻlīq scripts, with large thuluth in the headings. There are 27 lines per page of beige laid paper, which is lightly glazed, and the work has a cardboard binding. 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.

The Sea of Gems

Muḥammad ibn Yūsuf al-Harawī, who flourished in the late 15th–early 16th centuries, was a physician and author of at least two medical treatises, including this lexicon Baḥr al-jawāhir (The sea of gems). It is a medical dictionary arranged alphabetically, covering anatomical and pathological terms and concepts and medicinal substances. The colophon gives the composition date as 924 AH (1518 AD). This manuscript was copied in 1601 in a clear medium-sized naskh script with some rubrication. 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.

The Comprehensive Book on Medicine

One of the earliest pioneers in the history of medicine, Abū Bakr Muḥammad ibn Zakarīyā al-Rāzī  (also known by the Latinized version of his name, Rhazes or Rasis, circa 865–circa 925) was a Muslim Persian polymath, physician, and philosopher. He was born in the city of Rayy, near present-day Tehran, Iran, and spent most of his life between his birthplace and Baghdad, the capital city of the Abbasid caliphate. He taught medicine and was the chief physician in both cities. He made major and lasting contributions to the fields of medicine, music, philosophy, and alchemy and was the author of more than 200 books and treatises. Kitāb al-Ḥāwī fi al-ṭibb (The comprehensive book on medicine), also known in Latin as Continens Liber and in English as The Virtuous Life, is a large medical encyclopedia. It contains notes on diseases, therapy, and pharmacology, as well as al-Razi's notebooks on his reading and his clinical observations. This copy is in a rather small naskh script and was made in about 1674 by the order of Sulaymān I, shah of Iran (reigned 1666–94), for his chief physician Muḥammad Riz̤ā Ḥakīm. Red ink is used in catchwords and headings, with small blue and gold titles on glazed paper. 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.

Manṣūr’s Anatomy

The Persian physician Manṣūr ibn Muḥammad ibn Ilyās, who flourished around 1384, came from a family of physicians and other intellectuals living in the city of Shiraz in present-day Iran. Tashrīḥ-i badan-i insān (The anatomy of the human body), usually known as Tashrīḥ-i Manṣūrī (Manṣūr’s anatomy), is his best-known work. It contains the earliest surviving Islamic anatomical illustrations of the whole human body. They include full-page figures, drawn in pen using various colors of ink. The treatise consists of an introduction followed by chapters on the bones, nerves, muscles, veins, and arteries. A concluding chapter is on compound organs, such as the heart and brain, and on the formation of the fetus, and includes a figure representing the arterial system of a pregnant woman. The work is dedicated to Sulṭān Pīr Muḥammad ibn ʻUmar ibn Tīmūr, ruler of the Fars region of Persia circa 1393–1409 and grandson of Timur, known to Europeans as Tamerlane. This manuscript was copied in 1709 in a medium-sized naskh script on brown laid paper with catchwords and headings in red. There is some Indian stylistic influence. The manuscript was a gift of John Farquhar Fulton and forms part of the Cushing collection of rare books at the Medical Historical Library in the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library, Yale University.