HERBAL BOOKS BETWEEN HISTORY, AGRICULTURE AND MEDICINE
Villa Chiozza di Scodovacca di Cervignano del Friuli, within a centuries-old and imposing natural park of 28 hectares, hosts the exhibit "Masterpieces of knowledge and art. Herbal books between history, agriculture and medicine".
The event was conceived within the cultural communication activities of Aboca Museum - The Museum of Herbs of Herbal Company Aboca - thanks to the collaboration of the Central Administration of Agricultural, natural, forestry and mountain resources of the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region, the regional Agency for rural development, the University of Udine and the Eichstatt- Ingolstad University Library (Germany).
The exhibit is aimed at deepening our knowledge concerning issues connected to the functional and didactic evolution of botanical communication between Renaissance and Enlightenment, a period that, after the invention of printing, saw the appearance in Europe of a significant number of descriptive and figurative works on the plant kingdom.
The rise in great geographical explorations and the pressure of ever more cultured and demanding customers, seeking rare or novel materials, resulted in a true flourishing both of herbal texts, pride and embellishment of libraries, and of medical-natural gardens, adornment of villas and cities. Botany, initially studied for its medical aspects, found itself investigated for its naturalistic and aesthetic aspects: from the fifteenth century vision, primarily descriptive and not very decorative, as aimed exclusively at health, plants then started to be appreciated for the beauty of their shapes and the splendour of their flowers. In this period, a real Botanical Renaissance, a significant number of illustrated herbal texts was published. Botany scholars of every nationality tried to make images closer to reality, resorting to the help of real artists for drawing, engraving and painting of the illustrations.
The exhibit, with the exposition of rare works, amongst which of prime importance is the seventeenth-century Hortus Eystettensis by Basilius Besler, will try and highlight the dynamics of naturalistic-scientific thought, which was a fundamental stage in reaching modern science. Highlighting also the artistic aspects, this will be an occasion of dialogue between cultures of different time periods and countries. It is aimed at the general public (but also to specialists) for the preciousness and rarity of the exhibited material, which includes incunables and ancient botanical documents, botanical collections from many different regions.
Through the exposition-presentation of herbal texts of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, the exhibition will tackle bibliological, philological, iconological, taxonomic and other aspects and will lay particular emphasis on the therapeutical uses of plants. It will trace, in summary, a unifying thread between medieval knowledge and modern science, between classic culture and experimental science, between archaic representation and artistic renaissance. At the end of the exhibition, beside the bookshop, a herbal tea shop offers the visitor a delightful place for refreshments and to taste Aboca's herbal teas.
IN DEPTH CULTURAL STUDY EVENTS
The exhibit will also be the backdrop for a series of seminars and events. Some of these will be aimed at doctors, pharmacists and herbalists on specific phytotherapy themes. Others, directed at cultural and amateur associations, will trace the popular traditions concerning the harvest and use of medicinal plants. Furthermore, the University of Udine has organised five public conferences on general interest themes connected to botany.
CONNECTED EDITORIAL EVENT
In occasion of the exhibition, the first facsimile edition, by Aboca Museum, of Hortus Eystettensis (Basilius Besler, 1613, three volumes), held that the Eichstatt-Ingolstad University Library (Germany). The work, which will be accompanied by a commentary, on one hand brings back its valuable iconographic heritage, and on the other it brings back its cultural and practical value.