STUDY SERIES No.3

IBN BAKLARISH’S BOOK OF SIMPLES: MEDICAL REMEDIES BETWEEN THREE FAITHS IN TWELFTH-CENTURY SPAIN

edited by Charles Burnett, 2008

Description

This book focuses on the most important manuscript of a medical work written in Arabic by an early twelfth-century Jewish physician in Spain. Ibn Baklarish’s work, called the Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī in honour of its dedicatee, al-Musta‘in bi-llah Abu Ja‘far Ahmad (ruler of Saragossa 1085–1110), sets out in tabular form the properties and uses, and alternative names in several languages, of over 700 medicinal substances, drawing on a wide range of Greek and Arabic authorities and on local knowledge. The recently acquired manuscript belonging to the Arcadian library, written in 1130 A.D., is the earliest surviving witness to the text, and provides unique information about the state of medicine in medieval Spain at the time. The book, introduced and edited by Charles Burnett, contains eight papers by an international team of experts on the history of scholarship on the Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī, the Arabic text of the work in the Arcadian Library manuscript, the abundant Latin and Romance synonyms and glosses (which attest to the Iberian readership of the text), the Syriac synonyms (which attest to Ibn Baklarish’s use of sources from the Middle East), the use of animal parts as medicines, the Jewish culture of Ibn Baklarish, other significant manuscripts of the text, and the text’s relationship to other medical texts in tabular format.

The Arcadian manuscript gives a snapshot, as it were, of the intercultural dialogue that was taking placing in medieval Spain, where Muslims, Jews and Christians were all involved in studying and disseminating medical knowledge.

Contents

The Contributors
Preface by Charles Burnett
Ibn Baklarish’s Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī: The Historical Context to the Discovery of a New Manuscript by Ana Labarta
The Manuscript Transmission of the Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī and the Contributions of the Arcadian Library Manuscript by Joëlle Ricordel
Towards the Study of the Romance Languages in the Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī by Juan Carlos Villaverde Amieva
The Leiden Manuscript of the Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī by Jan Just Witkam
The Syriac Words in the Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī in the Arcadian Library
Manuscript by Geoffrey Khan
Ibn Biklarish – Isra’ili by David J. Wasserstein
Ibn Baklarish in the Arabic Tradition of Synonymatic Texts and Tabular
Presentations by Emilie Savage-Smith
The Zoological-medicinal Material in the Arcadian Library Manuscript
by Anna Contadini
Bibliography
Index
Plates: the Arcadian Library Manuscript, pp. 1–52

Author Information

Charles Burnett - Professor of the History of Arabic/Islamic influences in Europe, Warburg Institute, University of London
Ana Labarta - Professor of Arabic, University of Valencia
Joëlle Ricordel - Private scholar, Paris
Juan Carlos Villaverde Amieda - Professor of Arabic, University of Oviedo
Jan Just Witkam - Professor of Palaeography and Codicology of the Islamic World, Leiden University
Geoffrey Khan - Professor of Semitic Philology, University of Cambridge
David J. Wasserstein - Professor of History and Jewish Studies, Vanderbilt University
Emilie Savage-Smith - Professor of the History of Islamic Science, University of Oxford
Anna Contadini - Senior Lecturer in the Arts and Archaeology of Islam, School of Oriental and African Studies, London

Review Highlights

‘… a delightfully well-produced and informative volume. It serves as a paradigm for how such manuscripts should be brought to the attention of both the wider scholarly community and the general public.’
Siam Bhayro in Medical History

‘In an age of mass-produced paperbacks, this volume with its beautiful dust jacket, elegant cloth binding and fine paper is also a reminder that the making of good books is a craft, and bearing that in mind the price is actually quite reasonable. It seems that a critical edition of Ibn Baklarish's Kitab al-Muta'ini, announced twice before and overdue, is now being seriously tackled.’
Oliver Kahl in Annals of Science

Sample Text

Preface: In October 2003 the Arcadian Library acquired an Arabic manuscript consisting entirely of a previously unnoticed copy of the Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī of Ibn Baklarish, an important book of materia medica written in the Iberian peninsula at the turn of the eleventh to the twelfth century. It is reported that the manuscript was bought in Paris in the 1960s by a Middle Eastern historian of medicine and thence came by family descent to the United Kingdom. Its earlier history is unknown. It excited attention not only because it was a complete and clearly written copy of the work, but also because in the colophon the anonymous scribe states that he completed his copy on 18 January 1130 A.D., that is within a generation of the composition of the original text. It was decided that a group of scholars should be brought together to share their expertise on the content of this manuscript and to assess its significance in relation to other manuscripts of the Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī and within the context of eleventh- and twelfth-century medicine in Islamic Spain. The symposium took place on 10 September 2005, and the participants willingly revised their articles for inclusion in this volume. ...

Before proceeding to the individual papers, most of which concentrate on the content of the manuscript, it would be helpful to consider the appearance of the manuscript as a whole. It is a codex of 140 folios, paginated in a modern hand, bound in gatherings of eight paper folios, with no sign of an original cover. On p. 1 is a title, kitāb al-adwiya al-mufrada li-l-Isrā‘īlī (‘the book of simple medicines by the Israeli’) written in the hand of the main scribe of the text in ornate black letters with vowels marked in red ink surrounded by later notes on a variety of subjects, including metrology, which have been partially obliterated. These notes continue on pp. 2–3, while the text proper of the Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī begins at the top of p. 4. The long Introduction extends from p. 4 until the top of p. 30. It is written with titles in a thicker stroke and materia medica in rubric. The rest, and major part, of p. 30 and the whole of p. 31 are blank. Then the synoptic tables fill almost all the rest of the manuscript, pp. 32 –273. The headings of the columns are written in alternate brown and red ink, and red ink is also used for the abjad numerals and the names of authorities.

The colophon, which includes the date—‘the middle ten days of the month of yannayr which is Safar of the year 524 [= 18 January 1130 A.D.]’—occurs on p. 273. A grid for a table had been prepared on the following page (p. 274) but was not needed for materia medica. In the central cell on the top row is written kamāl bi-‘awni’llāh (‘finished with the help of God’) and in the central cell on the lowest row there is a recipe for making ink with lead and gold (including a word in Latin script, possibly ‘istanu’ = ‘stannum’, ‘tin’) written in the same hand as the rest of the text. An incomplete classification of medical simples according to their effects, which is not part of the Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī, but, again, is written in the same hand, fills pp. 275–8 (headings are in rubric). Later notes in several hands have added further recipes and some magical signs on pp. 279 and 280. On the last page (p. 280) these are mostly obliterated, but a passage in Latin and Arabic has been written at the top of the page in the hand of the main scribe, and may have had some apotropaic significance (I shall return to this below).

The paper is a smooth, cream, lightly burnished Spanish laid paper with five laid lines to the centimetre and with full-length chain lines occasionally visible at intervals of 25 mm. It is similar to the Spanish paper of MS Oxford, Bodleian Library, Marsh 292, which contains part of the Sunan of Ibn Abi Da’ud al-Sijistani and is dated 22 Ramadan 585 (3 November 1189 A.D.). Another manuscript written on ‘bright and yellowish’ paper with chain lines clearly visible is the well-known Leiden Arabic–Latin glossary. The pages of the Arcadian manuscript are 29.8 x 22 cm, while the writing space for the Introduction is 23.5 x 16.1 cm, and for the tables is 20.9 x 15.4 cm. The manuscript is stained by damp and mould and it has suffered some small losses, tears and worm damage.

The interest of this manuscript is enhanced by the number of words in Latin script that are found throughout the text, and that attest to the composition and reception of the manuscript in contexts in which Latin was used alongside Arabic (see Villaverde, pp. 72 –4 below). The Latin words within the text have been written on the same line and in the same ink as the Arabic, and are presumably by the same scribe as the Arabic text itself; they appear in Visigothic script (p. 92 ‘sanguinis canis’ [Fig. 1], p. 118 ‘triticum’, p. 150 ‘bettonica’; also a marginal gloss on p. 94), Carolingian script (p. 258 ‘furmentu’ [Fig. 2], p. 284 ‘istanu’), and in a mixture of the two (p. 258 ‘falernum’). In Carolingian script have also been added synonyms for the materia medica (in the margins on pp. 21, 32, 34, 38, 40, 44, 58, 94, 96, 102, 182, 208, 210, 214, 216, 220, 224, 264). The Visigothic script closely resembles that of the Leiden glossary, while the script in the margins is not unlike that of an early manuscript of a translation from Arabic made by Hugo of Santalla, who used the library of the Saragossa royal family, the Banu Hud, in the 1140s. A bold hand has written numerous synonyms in Latin script from the beginning of the tables up to p. 146, using a thick pen and bold strokes. This script is distinctive because it includes ticks indicating the stressed syllable within a word [Fig. 3]. It is quite crude, and favours capital letter forms. It may be the same hand as that of the Arabic script used in the glosses on pp. 36, 80, 124, if not the hand of the Arabic entries naming the materia medica written with a thicker pen in the first columns of the tables. Other Arabic glosses evidently were added by different, later, hands. The gloss in Greek letters ἀετίτης (derived from the transcription in Latin script which was definitely written before it: ‘aetítis’) on p. 134 must be later, but the Arabic gloss in Hebrew characters on p. 236 ([Fig. 4]; see also p. 108 below) may be early.

The early Carolingian hand also wrote the mysterious passage on the final page of the manuscript (p. 280; [Fig. 5]. The Arabic equivalent that follows it is likely to have been written after the Latin, although it is fuller than the Latin. But that it was written in the same context (perhaps by the same person) is indicated by the facts that both the Latin and Arabic are written in the same black ink, and that the scribe of the Latin text has added ‘pe’ above most of the occurrences of the free-standing ba’ in the Arabic. So this bilingual text neatly corroborates the evidence scattered throughout this manuscript of the Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī of an origin in a mixed Arabic and Latin-Romance culture. Unfortunately not all the words of the Arabic or Latin text can be read because this last page has been subject to the most wear and a corner of the page is missing. Nevertheless, the Latin word can sometimes be reconstructed from the Arabic, and vice versa. The whole text may be a commentary on the row of ‘p’s which follow rows of capital ‘r’s and ‘m’s respectively, immediately above. The central portion of this text reads: pe ante pe pe post pe magister legi pe si legis pe laudo te et si non legis pe error erit … which may be translated:

 

The p before the p, the p after the p. Master, read the p! If you read the p, I praise you. If you do not read the p, it will be wrong [Arabic: I will regard you as ignorant because of the mistake].

The articles follow in order. Ana Labarta, to whom we are indebted for the first edition and translation of a substantial part of the Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī, namely the Introduction, summarizes the history of scholarship concerning Ibn Baklarish, and compares the data provided by the Arcadian manuscript with what is already known about Ibn Baklarish and his book. She also briefly runs through the sources used by Ibn Baklarish. Mention is made of two proposed editions of the Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī which never saw the light of day. The first was undertaken by Henri Renaud, who was a pioneer in the study of Arabic medicine in the 1930s, and was the first scholar to realize the importance of Ibn Baklarish’s work. Another edition and translation was announced as being prepared by Amador Díaz García in 1981, and this was the reason why Ana Labarta herself did not continue to edit the complete work, having completed her edition and translation of the Introduction as her licentiate dissertation (1972). Now we are fortunate in that a critical edition is being prepared by Joëlle Ricordel.

In the second article in this book Ricordel discusses her forthcoming edition and shows how the Arcadian manuscript can contribute to establishing the text. She shows that the diffusion of Ibn Baklarish’s work was entirely in the western part of the Islamic world, and that the Arcadian manuscript is closest to the Madrid manuscript.

While Ricordel is concerned with the edition of the Arabic text, Juan Carlos Villaverde Amieva explores the considerable Romance elements in the transmission of the work, both in the main text and in the glosses. He points out that the Romance lexicon varies from manuscript to manuscript, in density, in variety and in linguistic affinity. This fluidity from manuscript to manuscript makes it difficult to identify the ‘original’ form of the text; and perhaps suggests that it is inappropriate to look for such a form. The Romance (‘ajamiyya) words cited in Arabic script in the text which may be regarded as closest in time and place to the author are unlikely to represent the Romance dialect spoken in Ibn Baklarish’s milieu (as has been assumed in the past), but are rather there by the chance selection of the different sources brought into service in the book, while the glosses in Latin script attest to the use of the text in various parts of the Iberian peninsula and beyond the Pyrenees. He hypothesizes that the peculiar language mix of the Arcadian manuscript, and in particular the simultaneous presence of Latin and Arabic in the manuscript, point to its being written in Toledo, the centre of the translations from Arabic into Latin in the period.

Jan Just Witkam describes the Leiden manuscript of the Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī and reveals the existence of at least two further copies of the text, against which al-Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī was collated. He compares the format and some of the readings of the Leiden manuscript with the Arcadian one. His findings attest to the popularity of the work in North Africa in the seventeenth century, and its appeal to Jacobus Golius, the renowned Dutch Orientalist and mathematician (1596–1667), who wanted to have his own copy of the work.

Geoffrey Khan’s article considers the 31 citations of ‘Syriac’ (suryāniyya) synonyms for the materia medica in the Arcadian manuscript and shows that they belong to different dialects, thus corroborating the findings that Ibn Baklarish used a variety of written sources (in which these Syriac synonyms were included), rather than his own direct experience.

David Wasserstein returns to the possible connection of ‘Biklarish’ with ‘Biclaro/Valclaro’, raised but dismissed by Labarta, and examines the significance of the epithet ‘Isra’ili’ applied to Ibn Baklarish. He sees little evidence of Ibn Baklarish being involved in Hebrew culture in Spain, but considers that his work should be seen as forming part of the Islamic cultural tradition.

Emilie Savage-Smith, drawing on her wide experience of cataloguing Arabic medical manuscripts and assessing the doctrine contained in them, explores the place of the Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī in the didactic tradition of presenting medical material in synoptic tables, and the concern for establishing synonyms for a medicinal substance. After showing how several texts adopt the same format, but differ quite considerably in content, she raises the question of whether the similarities shared uniquely by Maimonides and Ibn Baklarish might suggest some connection between Jewish doctors within al-Andalus.

Finally, Anna Contadini catalogues and classifies the references in the Kitāb al- Musta‘īnī to medicaments taken from animals, and compares recipes using these ingredients to what is found in encyclopedias concerning animals. She shows that, although the general format of the recipes is the same, there is little correspondence in the details, and the professed sources of the material are different.

Ibn Baklarish’s Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī: The Historical Context to the Discovery of a New Manuscript by Ana Labarta:

The Arcadian Library’s recently acquired manuscript of the Kitāb al-adwiya al- mufrada li-l-Isrā‘īlī (‘The Book on Simple Medicines by al-Isra’ili’), dealing with simple medicines, i.e., with the individual natural substances used to heal (as opposed to books on compound medicines), is in two different parts: a substantial introduction and more than 100 folios of synoptic tables (jadāwil). If we start reading the Introduction, we soon find a more exact title and the explanation for it: the author decided to name his book ‘al-Musta‘īnī’ because he dedicated it to ‘al-Musta‘īn bi-llāh Abu Ja‘far Ahmad, the son of al-Mu’tamin bi-llāh ibn Hūd’. He also says that he saw al-Musta‘in when he had reached the peak of his glory, and he wishes God to make his rule last. As we know, Abu Ja‘far Ahmad al-Musta‘in bi-llah, the son of al-Mu’tamin bi-llah, of the Banu Hud dynasty, was a tā’ifa king who ruled in Saragossa from 1085 to 1110. The book must therefore have been written between these two dates, during the lifetime and reign of the king. The author adds that he had already written a Risālat al-tabyīn wa-l-tartīb, i.e. a book on dietetics. But what else do we know about the book and its author? …

The Manuscript Transmission of the Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī and the Contributions of the Arcadian Library Manuscript by Joëlle Ricordel:

Although it has been studied relatively little in recent years, the Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī by Ibn Baklarish is of particular interest for the history of science in al-Andalus at the end of the eleventh century. This interest is due as much to its presentation as to its contents. The work is dedicated to Abu Ja‘far Ahmad al-Musta‘in bi-llah, the fourth representative of the Banu Hud dynasty which reigned in the Upper March with Saragossa as its capital. Ibn Baklarish, the prince’s personal physician, composed his manual with an originality which makes it exceptional in the medical-pharmaceutical tradition of al-Andalus. Indeed, these are the first tables of simple medicines to have been written in this country, concentrating, on facing pages for each medicinal substance, all the information transmitted by the treatises on synonyms, substitutes and materia medica. To the practical advantage of rapid consultation—the reader can look up the names of the simple drugs alphabetically —is added the great diversity of the material presented, particularly where the substances of mineral and animal origin are concerned. The Tables, moreover, are preceded by an Introduction in four chapters containing the theories of simple and compound medicines ...

Towards the Study of the Romance Languages in the Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī by Juan Carlos Villaverde Amieva:

The treatise on simple medicaments entitled Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī, apparently composed in Almeria by the Jew Ibn Baklarish (eleventh–twelfth centuries), is one of the most remarkable works to emerge from the abundant production of repertories on medicine in al-Andalus. It is consequently surprising to find how seldom the author is mentioned in later treatises. This hardly corresponds to the success and diffusion of his work in al-Andalus and the Maghreb, attested by a good dozen surviving manuscript copies, to which we can now add the codex recently acquired by the Arcadian Library in London.

Although Ibn Baklarish has not been entirely neglected by historians of Arabo-Islamic medicine and pharmacology, it is only lately that specialists have drawn attention to the scientific value of his work, and only in our own day that a complete edition and translation of this remarkable treatise has been attempted …

The Leiden Manuscript of the Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī by Jan Just Witkam:

The Leiden copy of the tabular pharmacopoeia, the Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī by Yusuf b. Ishaq Ibn Baklarish al-Isra’ili (c. 500/1106), is one of the oldest Oriental possessions of Leiden University Library. It is associated with Jacobus Golius (1596–1667), who acquired the manuscript while participating in a diplomatic mission to Morocco in 1622–4, before his scholarly and academic career had even started. In 1629 the manuscript was incorporated in the Library, together with the other manuscripts which Golius had collected by that time, not only in North Africa, but above all in Aleppo and Constantinople.

The sudden influx of more than 200 Oriental manuscript volumes in the Library made it necessary to organize these materials. The University librarian decided to create an Oriental manuscripts section and to place the new arrivals together, with a separate system of class-marks. These are the well-known Cod. Or. numbers of Leiden University Library, a system which is in use to this day. That moment in 1629 can be regarded as the foundation of the Oriental collection within the Leiden Library. Oriental manuscripts had already been available in Leiden, albeit in small numbers, but it was the sheer bulk of Golius’ acquisitions which made this novel approach necessary. The Golius manuscripts were simply and roughly arranged according to their size, and then numbered from Cod. Or. 1 onwards. Since the binding of the Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī is of considerable size (30.5 cm high), it became the fifteenth entry in the inventory in order of size, and the volume consequently received the class-mark Or. 15, by which it has been known in scholarly literature ever since. The most important catalogues containing references to the manuscript are De Jong and De Goeje’s of 1865 (pp. 246–9), and Voorhoeve’s Handlist, p. 243 …

The Syriac Words in the Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī in the Arcadian Library Manuscript by Geoffrey Khan:

In the third column in the synoptic tables of Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī Ibn Baklarish presents synonyms of the Arabic names of the simple medicines in a variety of languages, including Persian, Greek, Latin, Berber, ‘Roman vernacular’ (‘ajamiyya rūmiyya [Byzantine Greek]), ‘common vernacular’ (‘ajamiyya ‘āmmiyya) and Syriac (suryāniyya). He says in his introduction to the work: ‘I mentioned all that I could gather from different books about each drug whenever I found it necessary to enlighten people about it in case they come across unknown names in prescriptions.’ The presentation of synonyms, therefore, would seem to have had a practical purpose of facilitating the identification of drugs.

Little is known about the life of Ibn Baklarish. He was associated with the court of Ahmad al-Musta‘in, the Hudid ruler of Saragossa from 1085 to 1109. The work is dedicated to his patron al-Musta‘in. Ibn Baklarish does not speak about journeys or first-hand observations. It appears that the material that he presents in his work is based largely on books that were at his disposal in Spain. Some of the synonyms in different languages may have been gathered orally from informants, though this could have been done within the Iberian peninsula. This was, of course, the case with the ‘common vernacular’ (‘ajamiyya ‘āmmiyya), which referred to the local Romance vernacular. On some occasions he referred specially to the vernacular of Saragossa (‘ajamiyyat Saraqusta). The Berber words also could have been collected within Spain, where there were numerous Berber-speaking immigrants at that period …

Ibn Biklarish – Isra’ili by David J. Wasserstein:

We have now quite a respectable number of copies of Ibn Biklarish’s work. I stress this only to draw attention to the fact that it is fairly rare to have more than a single manuscript, or at most a couple, of Arabic texts of the Middle Ages. Of some, it is true, we have lots, but not of very many, and the fact that we have some half a dozen of this one should tell us something of its popularity and even, perhaps, of its importance. That it is by a Jew makes this all the more striking. Ibn Biklarish was a Jew, and he was active in a period of extraordinary variety and productivity among Jews of the medieval Islamic world, and of al-Andalus, Islamic Spain, in particular. However, there is, I think, more (or perhaps rather less) to be said about his activity as a Jew in the time and place of his work.

Let me begin with a glance at his name. He is called ‘Yunus b. Ishaq Ibn Biklarish’. The first two names, whether we give them an Arabic, as I have done here, or a Hebrew dress, are clearly recognizable. They present no problems and might easily be those of a Jew (or, for that matter, of a Muslim, even, at a pinch, of a Christian) of the general time and area. But it is worthy of note that all our sources uniformly give them an Arabic dress, not a Hebrew one …

Ibn Baklarish in the Arabic Tradition of Synonymatic Texts and Tabular Presentations by Emilie Savage-Smith:

The most immediately distinctive feature of the treatise on medicinal substances written in the city of Almería by Ibn Baklarish al-Isra’ili at the turn of the eleventh to twelfth century is its tabular format. In the course of 121 synoptic tables, Ibn Baklarish discussed the properties and uses, as well as alternative names, for 704 medicinal substances. An example of one of the tables can be seen in Figure 35, an opening from the copy recently acquired by the Arcadian Library that was, according to the colophon, completed on ‘Saturday in the middle ten days of the month of Safar of the year 524’ [= 18 January 1130 A.D.]. The purpose of this paper is to explore where Ibn Baklarish fits into the didactic tradition of presenting medical material in synoptic tables and the concern for establishing synonyms for a medicinal substance.

The origin of synoptic tables is unknown, though their occurrence in an Arabic jawāmi‘, or summary, of the treatise by Galen (d. c. 216 A.D.) on simple drugs, Peri kraseōs kai dunameōs tōn haplōn pharmakōn, known in Latin as De simplicium medicamentorum temperamentis et facultatibus libri XI, suggests they may have been devised in Alexandria. The so-called ‘Alexandrian Summaries’ (Jawāmi‘ al-Iskandaraniyyīn) of Galenic treatises were originally written in Greek, though they survive only in Arabic, Hebrew, and Latin translations, and they (or at least their Arabic versions) employed various popular didactic devices such as branch-diagrams and synoptic tables …

The Zoological-medicinal Material in the Arcadian Library Manuscript by Anna Contadini:

Although the manner of presentation is quite different, the zoological material in the twelfth-century Kitāb al-Musta‘īnī of Ibn Baklarish is clearly capable of being related to the more specifically zoological-medicinal literature of the period. However, its affiliations are difficult to establish, and the following notes must be viewed as a preliminary contribution. They attempt to characterize the nature of this material, and to compare it to the equivalent manāfi’ material found in the manuscripts of Ibn Bakhtishu‘’s Kitāb Manāfi‘ al-hayawān (The Book on the Usefulness of Animals).

‘Ubayd Allah ibn Jibra’il ibn Bakhtishu‘ was a member of an illustrious family of physicians who ran the school of medicine at Jundishapur and later were personal physicians to a number of Abbasid Caliphs. The last known member of this line, he lived in the eleventh century, and it is likely that the material preserved in his zoological-medicinal writings represents the culmination of a lengthy experimental and textual tradition. Ibn Bakhtishu‘’s Book on the Usefulness of Animals is extant in several copies in Arabic and Persian, and three of the Arabic ones are illustrated. The earliest known copy, in the British Library, has the title Kitāb Na‘t al-hayawān (The Book of the Description of Animals). In this work the discussion of each animal is divided into two parts. The first is a general introduction, in which the principal characteristics of the animals are treated, as well as their habits and their reactions to different situations. This part, according to the earliest extant copy, derives from Aristotle’s De animalibus. The second part, attributed to Ibn Bakhtishu‘ himself, deals with the different parts of the animal and how they may be used to beneficial effect, principally to cure various human illnesses …

 

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