MS. Arab. d. 138 (Bodleian Library, Oxford University)
Dioscorides’ Greek treatise on materia medica (Περὶ ὕλης ἰατρικῆς), composed of five books, was translated several times into Arabic. The version most widely circulated was that by Iṣṭafān ibn Bāsil and slightly revised by Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq (d. 260/873 or 264/877). In the fourth/tenth century an interpretation of the Greek terms left unexplained in the Iṣṭafān/Ḥunayn version was undertaken in Spain, while in Iran (or possibly Samarqand), the Iṣṭafān translation was revised by al-Ḥusayn ibn Ibrāhīm ibn al-Ḥasan al-Khurshīd al-Ṭabarī al-Nātilī about 374/985. In the sixth/twelfth century, another translation was prepared by Mihrān ibn Manṣūr ibn Mihrān (fl. c. 545/1150) working in Diyārbakr from a Syriac version made in the third/ninth century by Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq.
Contains a depiction of Dioscorides and 289 illustrations of medicinal plants.
Written in one column throughout; 15 lines per page; the text area has been frame-ruled.
Script: The text is written in a medium-large professional and consistent Naskh with occasional vocalization, with dark-brown ink and headings in red. The letters ḥāʾ and ʿayn frequently have minuscule letters underneath. Háčeks occur frequently over the letter rāʾ and occasionally over sīn; the letter ﻫ, when an attached pronoun, frequently has a minuscule letter over it. Scribe: al-Ḥasan ibn Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad al-Nashawī.
- Marginalia: There are scattered marginalia, mostly written in the same hands as annotated many of the illustrations. The fifth book (maqālah) also has a separate numbering of the individual leaves written in red ink in the upper left corner. On Folio 1a there are later pious statements and invocations written near the illuminated roundel.
- Catchwords: There are no catchwords.
The volume is bound in a European restored binding incorporating older pasteboard covers. The older covers are covered with dark-red leather, having a blind, oval medallion (floral arabesques and scalloped edges), with pendants; the design on each cover is framed by two gilt fillets enclosing a gilt braid. Part of the original fore-edge flap remains on one of the covers; the envelope flap is now missing. The edges and spine are of recent dark-brown leather. The doublures are of plain brown leather with two gilt frames, and the endpapers are modern.
Provenance and Acquisition
On folio 1a there are one obliterated owner’s stamp and two owners' notes, now illegible or obliterated except for the date on one of Rabīʿ I 867 (Nov.−Dec. 1462).
The volume entered the collections of the Bodleian Library on 26th August 1926 as a bequest of Sir William Osler (d. 1919).
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