Lot 68
  • 68

Abu'l-Hasan Ahmed Ibn Muhammad al-Turunji al-Tabari, Kitab al-Mu'alajat al-Buqratiyyah ('The Book of the Hippocratic Treatments'), chapters IX and X, Iraq or Western Persia, circa 1000 AD

220,000 - 320,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Arabic manuscript on buff paper, brown leather binding
Arabic manuscript on buff paper, 247 leaves plus 2 flyleaves, 18 lines to the page, written in neat and angular naskh script in black ink, bab headings and key words written in larger and bolder eastern Kufic script, occasional marginal glosses, brown leather binding with tooled central roundels, repaired, with flap


In reasonably good overall condition, binding worn and repaired, stains and marginal paper repairs to opening and closing leaves, otherwise pages generally clean and ink bold, minor water staining to leaf edges, some leaves coming loose in binding requiring consolidation, as viewed.
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Catalogue Note

This is an important Buyid medical manuscript written shortly after the death of the author Al-Tabari. Savage-Smith describes Kitab al-Mu'alajat al-Buqratiyyah as a "comprehensive textbook of medicine in ten chapters. The opening section on principles of medicine includes a fragment of Galen’s treatise on ethics which is lost in the Greek original". The present text comprises chapters IX and X of the original ten, and can be considered one of the earliest known copies of the work.

The author

Abu'l-Hasan Ahmed Ibn Muhammad al-Turunji al-Tabari flourished circa 970 AD, although the exact date of his death is unknown. Al-Tabari was court physician to the Buyid ruler Rukn al-Dawlah (r.932-76 AD) in Ray, Western Persia, and a contemporary of 'Ali Ibn 'Abbas al-Majusi (d.circa 995 AD, see Sotheby's 8 October 2014, lot 34). This copy was not written in the lifetime of Al-Tabari nor his patron (the words rahmat Allah 'alayhi appear after his name on the title page), but appears to have been copied shortly afterwards, pre-dating the other known versions of the work.

Al-Tabari has been credited with the discovery of Sarcoptes Scabiei (the scabies mite, see R. Friedman, 'At Tabari: Discoverer of the "Acarus Scabiei"', Medical Life, New York, 1938, pp.163-176) and praised for his contribution to medicine, particularly in relation to eye and skin diseases (see J. Hirschberg, Geschichte der Augenheilkunde bei den Arabern, Leipzig-Berlin, 1905, pp.107-8 and M. Rihab, 'Der Arabische Arzt at-Tabari, Übersetzung einzelner Abschnitte aus seinen Hiporatischen Behandlungen, von Mohamed Rihab', Archiv für Geschichte der Medizin, 19, 1927, pp.123-168 and 1928, pp.27-81). Al-Tabari's other important works include Risala fi Dhikr al-Qarura (a treatise on urology); Kitab 'Ilaj al-Atfal (a compendium on the treatment of children); Maqalah fi Tibb al-'Ayn (a discourse on opthalmology); Kitab al-'Ayn fi al-Mu'alajat (on opthalmological treatments); Al-Aqrabadin (on Pharmacopoeia) and Kitab al-Fasd (on phlebotomy).

The text

Kitab al-Mu'alajat al-Buqratiyyah ('The Hippocratic Treatments') is a medical encyclopaedia, and was described by the thirteenth-century Arab physician Ibn Abi Usaybi'a, in his Lives of the Physicians, as "among the best and most useful ones mentioning diseases and their treatments completely and including many chapters." This manuscript includes only maqalah IX in 52 babs on disorders occurring in the stomach and the oesophagus, and maqalah X in 49 babs on the diseases of the liver, spleen and intestines.

Maqalah IX is on disorders occurring in the stomach and the oesophagus including the loss of appetite, hunger, thirst, digestion, spasms and cramps, stomach worms, bloating, heartburn, reaction of the stomach to poisons and medicines. Maqalah X is on the diseases of the liver, spleen and intestines including hepatitis (al-kubad), scarring of the surface of the liver (tabathur), treatment of jaundice (yarqan), stones in the liver, tumours, fevers, inflammation and stiffening of the spleen and intestinal ulcers.

There are three copies in the Bodleian Library, Oxford: MS Marsh 690, contains the fourth maqalah on the eye only, copied in Shiraz and dated 14-23 January 1310; MS Marsh 158 (item 1), a complete copy of the work written in Tabriz and dated 15-25 December 1478 and MS Marsh 547, contains the fourth maqalah on the eye only, dated 5 April 1631, see E. Savage-Smith, A New Catalogue of Arabic Manuscripts, volume I, Medicine, Oxford, 2011, pp.183-9. There is one copy in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, no. 3994, containing maqalahs IV, V and VI, dated 674 AH/1275 AD, see A.J. Arberry, A Handlist of the Arabic Manuscripts, volume IV, Dublin, 1959, no.3994, p.83. There is one copy in the British Library, London, no. IO ISL 1296, dated 1119 AH /1707 AD, see C.F. Baker, editor, Subject-Guide to the Arabic Manuscripts in the British Library, London, 2001, M3, p.367. See also Brockelmann, GAL, i. 237 (272) no. 13 and GAL S, i. 422 no.15.