HERBAL BOOKS BETWEEN SCIENCE AND ART. THE STRENGTH OF SARDINIAN HERBS
Aboca Museum, the cultural expression of Herbal Company Aboca, in collaboration with the Superintendence for the Cultural and Ethnoanthropological Heritage of Sardinia, presents an extraordinary event as part of Cagliari's Week of Culture: the exhibition of a valuable collection of ancient herbal books of the museum's library, scientific and artistic testimony to Italian and European culture from the Renaissance to the present day.
It will unfold as a historical itinerary following the evolution of medicinal botany: from the iconographic representation of the fifteenth century, simple and essential, responding to the sole requirement of plant identification, to the depiction of plants and flowers highlighting the beauty of their shape and the splendour of their colours, in the following centuries. Scientists and engravers interpret together, in herbal books, the idea of beauty, typical of a work of art, contributing to the mainly medical scope of these treatises.
The rise in major geographical explorations and requests by increasingly cultured customers, with growing expectations in terms of novelty and rarity, brought about a real flourishing of both herbal books and flower anthologies, the pride and embellishment of Princedoms and libraries, and also of medical-natural gardens, adornment of villas and cities, or places of study for universities and convents.
With the exhibition of rare volumes, amongst which of prime importance is the seventeenth-century Hortus Eystettensis by Basilius Besler, one will try and highlight the dynamic of naturalistic-scientific thought, which will lead, through its development, to modern science.
The display of herbal books between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries will highlight phytographic, bibliographic, taxonomic and iconographic aspects, with particular reference to the therapeutic 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.
The exhibit is enriched by the section "The strength of Sardinian herbs", curated by the Educational Services of the Museum and of the territory, responding to the Superintendence for the Historical, Artistic and Ethnoanthropological Heritage of Sardinia, in collaboration with the Department of Botanical Sciences of the University of Cagliari.
The book documentation on display, the result of generous loans from public, religious and private entities, confirms that Sardinia, so rich in extraordinary natural beauty, is also very rich in folk traditions that have made use of what nature offered them, and were able to discover and utilise the medicinal and cosmetic properties of endemic plants.