20.06.2008 -

Medieval Manuscripts on Medicine and Pharmacy

Documentary heritage submitted by Azerbaijan and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2005

The Collection of Medieval Manuscripts on Medicine and Pharmacy   is kept by the Institute of Manuscript of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (IMANAS) named after Mahammad Fuzuli.
IMANAS possesses a rich collection of old manuscripts – a total of 12 000 manuscripts. The Institute has a number of valuable medieval manuscripts in the field of medicine in Persian, Arabic, Azeri, Turkish and other languages. The collection includes 363 old medical manuscripts, of which 222 are written in Persian, 71 in Turkish and 70 in Arabic. Hence, the majority of books are written in Persian. Some of these books were compiled or copied in the territory of Azerbaijan Republic; others were brought from other countries in different historical periods. For example, our collection includes one of the most ancient manuscripts of “Canon” by the famous Ibn Sina. This valuable manuscript was copied in 1143 in Baghdad. The Uzbek scholars who translated Ibn Sina’s book from Arabic into Uzbek and Russian languages widely used our manuscript.

The valuable medical manuscripts in Persian kept by the Institute of Manuscripts are as follows: Ikhtiyarat-i Badii” by Haji Zeynalabdin Attar (copied in the 18th century), “Kifayat al-Mujahida” by Mansur bin Ilyas (copied in 1653), “Tuhfat al-Muminin” by Muhammad Mu’min (copied in 1713), “etc. Some of the precious medical books in Persian were compiled by natives of different regions of Azerbaijan, including such monuments of the 14th-18th centuries as “Jam al-Baghdadi” by Yusif bin Ismail Khoyi (the original of this book was written in Arabic in 1311, but in our collection there is a medieval translation of this book into Persian), “Kitab al-Mudavat” by Abdul Majid Hakim, “Siraj at-Tibb” by Hasan bin Riza Shirvani, “Fava’id al-Hikmat” by Haji Suleyman Qajar Iravani, “Mualijat-i Munfarida” by Abulhasan Maraghayi, “Khirga” by Murtuza Gulu Khan Shamlu Ardabili, etc.

There are many copies of some Arabic, Persian, Azerbaijani and Turkish medical manuscripts in the Baku’s Institute of Manuscripts. They are as follows: “Tuhfat al-Muminin” (written in 1669) by Muhammad Mu’min – 33 complete and incomplete copies; “Zad al-Musafirin” (written in 1728) by Muhammad Mahdi – 13 copies; “Garabadin” by Muzaffar bin Muhammad Shafa’i (1586/7-1628/9) – 9 copies; Ikhtiyarat-i Badii” by Haji Zeynalabdin Attar (written in 1368) – 5 copies. There are some rare and valuable samples having world importance between these manuscripts.

 Three items are being nominated for inscription on the Register as a set of documents on a specific theme. These are the:
a) Zakhirai-Nizamshahi (Supplies Of Nizamshah) by Rustam Jurjani.
“Zakhirai-Nizamshahi” by Rustam Jurjani is the original work resembling “Zakhirai-Kharazmshahi” by Zeynaddin Ibn Abu Ibrahim Jurjani (12th century), the famous Central Asian author. The manuscript is unique and is not found in other manuscripts deposits in the world. In any case, its name is not shown in any known catalogues of the world. The date of compilation is not known, but the manuscript was copied in the 16th century (954 by Hijra). The book provides descriptions of pharmaceutical properties of medicinal herbs, animal substances, minerals and complex medicines. It influenced the development of medicine and pharmacology in Persian-speaking countries and those areas where Persian was in use. It was partially researched in Azerbaijan. The work is preserved as a manuscript and still is not translated and published.

The manuscript was written in the nasta’lik script on white paper in black ink. The titles are written in red ink. The binding is of black leather. The first page is decorated with an ornament.

b) Al-Qanun Fi at-Tibb (Canon Of Medicine, The Second Book) by Abu Ali Ibn Sina (Avicenna). It is the oldest manuscript of Canon in Azerbaijan and one of the oldest in the World The manuscript was copied in 537 Hijra (1143) in Baghdad. The “Canon of Medicine” is a famous work in the field of pharmacology and medicine. The second book is primarily devoted to pharmacology. It contains pharmaceutical descriptions of hundreds of natural medicines: plants, minerals and animal substances. The uniqueness of the manuscript is in that it is one of the most ancient manuscripts of “Canon” in the world which was copied only 104 years after the author’s death. During the Middle Ages, the “Canon of Medicine” influenced the development of medical sciences in the whole Muslim World and Christian Europe. The second volume of “Canon of Medicine” was translated into Uzbek and Russian basically from the abovementioned Baku manuscript (Tashkent, 1980-1982).

The manuscript is written on the thick white paper. The text is black, titles are written in red ink.

c) Al-Makala as-Salasun (Thirteen’s Treatise) by Abu al-Qasim al-Zahravi (Abulcasis).






"Book on Surgery and Instruments" by Abulkasim Zakhravi
(C) Institute of Manuscripts of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences

One of the tomes of a comprehensive book about “Surgery and Surgical Instruments” written in Arabic. This unique manuscript is one of the rarest and most ancient manuscripts of this book in the World. The book contains pictures of approximately 200 medieval surgical instruments. Zahravi (who died in 1013) is the only medieval author who provides pictures of so many surgical instruments, and explains methods of their application. This work influenced the development of surgery in the Muslim East and Europe. In medieval Europe Abu al-Qasim was known as Abulcasis. The facsimile of the Baku manuscript and its translation into Russian by Professor Ziya Bunyadov was published in Moscow in 1983.

The 13th century copy of the 11th century book. It was written in black ink on thin white paper with filigrees. The titles of chapters are made by bold type. One of the rarest manuscripts in the world, it contains pictures of many surgical instruments used in ancient times.

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