The corpus of the Qanun is divided into five books dealing with different aspects of the human body and its cures: the first kitab deals with general medical principles, anatomy and the effects of the environment on human health. This particular volume contains the first two sections of book I, the second section starting on f.38a. In between the two chapters a later non-anatomical drawing depicts two men, one patient injured around the shoulder, and his companion, visiting a doctor sitting in front of a tree of frankincense (al-liban).
But it is the other four anatomical drawings which make this manuscript particularly rare and exceptional. Anatomical drawings are found on many medical treatises but the only other recorded Qanun by Ibn Sina with four drawings is now in the Wellcome Library (inv.no. WMS.Or.155, published in Djebbar 2005 p.159 and Iskandar 1967 Pl.I). The Wellcome Library manuscript was copied in Isfahan, dated 1042 AH/1632 AD and appears to have all the drawings on four pages without text (fll.123-6). In the present manuscript they appear in the margins and are dated to the Safavid/early Qajar period. It is interesting to note that in most of the manuscripts with anatomical drawings, the figure of the skeleton is usually represented as viewed from the back, with the mouth on top of the head. The others figures are represented as viewed from the front, and this structure is the same found in the Wellcome Library’s copy as well as other contemporaneous manuscripts on medicine (see, for example, the drawings in a Persian Tashrih al-badan dated 951 AH/1544 AD published in De Guise 2018, p.80-83).
The illustrations are listed as follows:
F.17b: a drawing of the skeleton
F.25a: a drawing of the venous system
F.31b: a drawing of a pregnant woman with foetus
F.37b: a later drawing of a doctor visited by two patients
F.43a: a drawing of the nervous system
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