Lot 33
  • 33

Abu'l-Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Biruni (973-1048 AD), Hikmat Abi Rihan, Treatise on Medicine, Persia, 11th/12th century

30,000 - 50,000 GBP
58,850 GBP
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  • Ink on Paper
  • 18.3 by 14cm.
Arabic manuscript on paper, 72 leaves, 12 lines to the page written in Naskhi script in black ink, later brown morocco binding with ebru covers, with flap

Catalogue Note

Abu'l-Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Biruni (973-1048 AD) was one of the most famous men of science in Medieval Islam, born in Kath, the old capital old capital of Khwarizm (presently the town of Beruni named in his honour in Qara-Qalpaq, Republic of Uzbekistan). He was a pupil of Ibn Iraq, and worked in Kath at the court of Afrigid Khwarizmshah Abdallah Muhammad (until 995 AD); in Gurgan at the court of Ziyarid Shams al-Ma'ali Qabus ibn Wushmagir (978-1012 AD), in Gurgani, the new capital Khwarizm; at the court of Ma'mun (1009-1017 AD), and in Ghazna at the courts of Mahmud Ghaznawi (998-1030 AD); Mas'ud (1031-1041 AD) and Mawdud (1041-1050 AD). Al-Biruni lived in India for some years whilst accompanying the campaigns of Mahmud. In Medieval Europe Al-Biruni was known as "Maitre Aliboron", writing extensively on India, the Mas'udic Canon, geometry, arithmetic, cyclometry, astronomy, astrology, the astrolabe, mineralogy and medicine. He also wrote a critic on some of the works of Ibn Sina.

This present work is not recorded, but it is clear that it is a very early work in relation to the lifetime of Al-Biruni. A radiocarbon dating test has confirmed that the manuscript dates from between the end of the tenth century and the mid-twelfth century, and combined with the fact that the style of the writing is in keeping with a circa eleventh century date of production, this work can be considered an early work of Al-Biruni, probably within only a few decades of his death.

For further reading see Rosenfeld and Ihsanoglu, Mathematicians, Astronomers and other Scholars of Islamic Civilzation and their works (7th to 19th Century), Istanbul, 2003, pp.144-156, no.348, and S.H. Nasr, Islamic Science - An Illustrated Study, World of Islam Festival Publishing Company Ltd., 1976.