Folio from a copy of the De Materia Medica by Dioscorides (ca. 40-90 C.E.); recto: text and illustration: Autumn crocus; verso: text and illustration: Mushrooms

Detached folio from an Arabic translation of De materia medica by Dioscorides; text: Arabic in brown and red naskh script; recto: illustration and text, autumn crocus, 5 lines; verso: illustration and text, mushrooms, 8 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 and opaque watercolor on paper
Dimensions
H x W: 32 x 22.5 cm (12 5/8 x 8 7/8 in)
Geography
Iraq, Probably Baghdad
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1943.2
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Manuscript
Type

Manuscript folio

Keywords
Abbasid period (750 - 1258), botany, crocus, De Materia Medica, Iraq, medicine, naskh script, WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Description

Detached folio from an Arabic translation of De materia medica by Dioscorides; text: Arabic in brown and red naskh script; recto: illustration and text, autumn crocus, 5 lines; verso: illustration and text, mushrooms, 8 lines; one of a group of 9 folios.

Label

One of the most celebrated Arabic translations of a Greek text was Dioscorides' Materia Media, a study of the flora of Asia Minor. Written in the first century C.E., it was first copied into Arabic in ninth-century Iraq and subsequently revised and edited in Spain, Iran, and other parts of the Islamic world. Divided into five chapters, the text provides the names, descriptions, and botanical properties of some five hundred plants.

The Materia Medica was also frequently illustrated. The Autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale) from a thirteenth-century copy belongs to the fourth chapter, which describes herbs and roots. According to the text, the plant produces a saffron-like white flower, here represented in blue. The author also provides exact measurements of the stalk's span and mentions the edible part of the root.

Published References
  • Edward Lee Greene. Landmarks of Botanical History. 2 vols., Stanford, CA. vol. 1: fig. 129.
  • H. Buchtal. Early Islamic Miniatures from Baghdad. vol. 5 Baltimore. fig. 42.
  • Laura Schnieder. Landscape in Islamic Art. vol. 7, no. 3, March 1967. p. 13.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Art of the Arab World. Exh. cat. Washington, 1975. cat. 19, p. 54.
  • Dietrich Brandenburg. Islamic Miniature Painting in Medical Manuscripts., 2nd edition. Basel. pp. 131-132.
  • Richard Ettinghausen, Archibald Gibson Wenley. Aus der Welt der Islamischen Kunst: Festschrift fur Ernst Kuhnel. Berlin. p. 174, fig. 2.
  • Dr. Ananda K. Coomaraswamy. Early Persian Paintings in America. vol. 3, no. 3 New York, March 1923. p. 179.
  • Nigel Allan. La Medecine au Temps des Califes: a L'Ombre d'Avicenne. Paris. p. 232.
  • Jose Pijoan. Arte Islamico. vol. 12, Summa artis, historia general del arte, 1st ed. Madrid. p. 337, figs. 468-9.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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