Folio from an Arabic translation of De materia medica by Dioscorides (ca. 40-90 C.E.); recto: text; verso: Preparation of medicine from the flower of the wild vine

Detached folio from an Arabic translation of De Materia Medica by Pedanius Dioscorides; text: Arabic in black and red naskh script; recto: text, one column, 13 lines; verso: illustration and text, Preparation of medicine from the flower of the wild vine, one column, 7 lines; one of a group of 9 folios.

Maker(s)
Calligrapher: Abdallah ibn al-Fadl
Author: Pedanius Dioscorides (died 90 CE)
Historical period(s)
Abbasid period, 1224 (621 A.H.)
Medium
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
H x W (overall): 33.1 x 23.2 cm (13 1/16 x 9 1/8 in)
Geography
Iraq, Probably Baghdad
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1932.22
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Manuscript
Type

Manuscript folio

Keywords
Abbasid period (750 - 1258), De Materia Medica, flower, fruit, Iraq, medicine, naskh script, tree, vine
Provenance

Fredrik Robert Martin (1868-1933) [1]

To 1932
H. Sevadjian, Paris to 1932 [2]

From 1932
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from H. Sevadjian, Paris in 1932 through K. Minassian [3]

Notes:

[1] Object file, undated folder sheet note. See also Martin, F.R. The Miniature Painting and Painters of Persia, India and Turkey, London, 1912; vol. I.

[2] Object file, undated folder sheet note. See also Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List file, Collections Management Office.

[3] See note 2.

Previous Owner(s)

H. Sevadjian
Fredrik Robert Martin 1868-1933

Description

Detached folio from an Arabic translation of De Materia Medica by Pedanius Dioscorides; text: Arabic in black and red naskh script; recto: text, one column, 13 lines; verso: illustration and text, Preparation of medicine from the flower of the wild vine, one column, 7 lines; one of a group of 9 folios.

Label

One of the earliest illustrated texts from the Islamic world is the Arabic translation of the Materia Medica, a Greek scientific treatise. It was written in the first century C.E. by Dioscorides, a soldier attached to the Roman army who studied the flora of Asia Minor while in service. Divided into five chapters, the text provides the name, habitat, and pharmaceutical uses of some five hundred plants.

This folio is from a chapter entitled "Vines and Wines." According to Dioscorides, one of the many healing properties of the wild vine flower is the alleviation  of stomach pain, headaches, swollen eyes, and the inflammation of fingers and toes.

Arabic copies of the Materia Medica are notable for their lively narrative illustrations. In this example, a young apprentice prepares a remedy under the shade of a large fruit tree while an elderly physician probably explains the medication to his patient. Such compositions allowed painters to add pictorial interpretations to the text and transform it into more than just a scientific treatise.

Published References
  • A Greek English Lexicon. New York and Oxford, 1800 - 2006. part 7, p. 1206.
  • Pedanius Dioscorides, Robert T. Gunther. The Greek Herbal of Dioscorides: Illustrated by a Byzantine, A.D. 512. Oxford. vol. 5: p. 602 ff.
  • Sami K. Hamarneh. Arab Islamic Medicine and Public Health. vol. 10, no. 1, Spring/Summer 1985. p. 9.
  • H. Buchtal. Early Islamic Miniatures from Baghdad. vol. 5 Baltimore. pp. 16-39, fig. 11.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Art of the Arab World. Exh. cat. Washington, 1975. cat. 21, p. 56.
  • Dietrich Brandenburg. Islamic Miniature Painting in Medical Manuscripts., 2nd edition. Basel. p. 69.
  • Pietro Andrea Mattioli. De Plantis Epitome Utilissima. p. 609.
  • Ciba Symposia. vol. 6, nos. 5-6 Summit, New Jersey, August/September 1944. p. 1849.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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