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Kitâb al-Diryâq (Thériaque de Paris) - Facsimile edition



Kitab -1This fascinating Arab manuscript, which we are presenting in facsimile as a collector's item, describes theriac, the ancient medicinal compound that was initially used as a specific cure for bites given by poisonous snakes and wild animals (in ancient Greek, thèrion) and which later became widely used as a panacea.

The extraordinary illuminated and gilded illustrations transform each of the 72 pages into a valuable work of art redolent of the fascination of the Oriental world.

The work of Muhammad ibn Abi al-Fath and dated 1199, the manuscript is of certain interest to scholars of botany and the history of medicine. It includes illustrations of the medicinal plants used in the Arab world in the recipes drawn up by the most important physicians in the Greek tradition, such as Galen of Pergamum and Andromachus.
The number of ingredients used to create the medicine increased progressively with the passing of the centuries until it exceeded one hundred.
Theriac originated in Graeco-Roman antiquity and its popularity was furthered in the Islamic world, giving rise to a vast literature on the subject. This particular manuscript is the earliest and most impressive of these treatises, and was probably produced for a very special patron of the arts who wished to know more of the medicine, but also to gaze on the beautiful coloured illustrations.

Conserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris (arabe 2964), this treatise is called the Paris Kitâb al- Diryâq to distinguish it from other copies in Beirut, Cairo, St Petersburg and Vienna. These latter codices are similar but were compiled at a later date.
The growing popularity of theriac in Europe was partly due to the in uence exercised by Latin translations of Arab treatises and to the development of trade in the Mediterranean: rare and unknown ingredients such as aromatizing "spices" and medicinal drugs were included in the composition of the preparation in the medical centres of Venice, Paris, Montpellier and others.

But the Kitâb al-Diryâq is not only a medical treatise: it is also an engaging series of tales and anecdotes about the nine Greek physicians of antiquity who contributed to the development of the medicine.

 

Work Description

The work that has been handed down to us, written in ancient Arabic and with notes in Persian, consists of 36 sheets (72 pages) embellished with magnificent miniatures featuring traditional Arabizing motifs that only in a few cases have lost their details and brightness of colour.
The introductory pages (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), which feature decorations and drawings, are devoted to the general contents and precede the two amazing pages of the frontispiece (6, 7) dedicated to the moon and its astrological and magical myths.
The calligraphic pages that follow (from 8 to 49) are individual works of art in which the Kufic script is also used as a decorative feature.
Following the title of the work, which is repeated several times, are the portraits of the nine medical scholars (Andromachus the Elder, Heraclides, Philagrius, Proclus, Pythagoras, Marinus, Magnus of Mesa, Andromachus the Younger and Galen), each with his own theriac recipe, and four anecdotes relating to Andromachus the Elder, Heraclides, Philagrius and Proclus.
The long presentation of the categories of poisonous snakes and "viper esh" is linked to Andromachus the Younger.
Then follow twelve pages (50 to 61) with the illustration of the plants used in the preparation of theriac: these include rocket, liquorice, cardamom, opium, white pepper, incense, capers, acacia, valerian, black pepper, garlic and wild leek.
The final pages (62 to 73) contain a group of eleven medicamentous recipes based on poorly identified cooked meat.


Description of the facsimile

36 plates;
Size cm. 28,5 x 37;
Print 4/4 + satinized gold foil;
Miniatures engraved with satinized gold foil;
Flyleaves 4/4 + offset gold, on 200g Munken Pure paper;
Punched pages with manual punching of 3 inserts;
Gilt edges, perfected by hand, on three sides;
Hard cover binding in Cabra leather with gold and turquoise foil embossed;
Run of 999 numbered and certifified copies;
Language: Arabic.

Size cm. 28,5 x 37
Paperback binding
Cabra leather pasteboard hard cover with satinized gold foil
pp. 72 ill. 156
Languages: Italian, German, Spanish ISBN 978-88-95642-26-0
Languages: French, English, Arabic ISBN 978-88-95642-27-7

 

 

SLIPCASE

The precious slipcase consists of the facsimile and the critical essay which contains useful information to understand the work.
Lined with silk with 2 printed plates (4-colour and satinized gold foil), and gold print on the spine.
Drawing ribbon.
Every slipcase consists of the critical essay with hard cover binding in Cabra leather.
Size cm. 29,5 x 39 x 6,5

 

 

THE CRITICAL ESSAY(Kitâb al-Diryâq)

The comments on the manuscript, translated in six languages, are written by five expert Arabists who between them explain everything there is to know on the subject. Jaclynne Kerner, a historian of Oriental art at California State University Long Beach, presents A Descriptive Reconstruction and a Classification of the Paris Kitâb al- Diryâq, describing the subject of each individual page.

Marie Geneviève Guesdon, a bibliologist at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, gives an accurate History of the Manuscript and Codicological Presentation. In his An Essay in Interpretation, Oleg Grabar, a professor of Islamic art at the universities of Princeton and Harvard, places the work in its historical and literary contexts and carries out an artistic analysis of the decorative work and illustrations.
Françoise Micheau, a lecturer in the Medieval History of Islamic Countries at the Sorbonne, expounds on the use of the medicine in the Graeco-Roman and Arab worlds, linking it with its use in the West, in her essay The Medical Purpose of the Book of Theriac.
Anne Caiozzo, an Arabist at the Université Paris-Diderot, dedicates her monograph The Three States of the Moon to an analysis of the superb title page, describing with fervour the magical and astrological myths and interpretations linked to this celestial body in the Arab world.


Description of the critical essay, the version which is inside the slipcase, together with the facsimile

Size cm. 28,5 x 37
Paperback binding
Cabra leather pasteboard hard cover with satinized gold foil
pp. 72 ill. 156
Languages: Italian, German, Spanish ISBN 978-88-95642-26-0
Languages: French, English, Arabic ISBN 978-88-95642-27-7

 

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Gallery
Kitâb al-Diryâq (Thériaque de Paris)
Kitâb al-Diryâq (Thériaque de Paris)
Kitâb al-Diryâq (Thériaque de Paris)
Kitâb al-Diryâq (Thériaque de Paris)
Kitâb al-Diryâq (Thériaque de Paris)
Kitâb al-Diryâq (Thériaque de Paris)
Kitâb al-Diryâq (Thériaque de Paris)
Kitâb al-Diryâq (Thériaque de Paris)
Kitâb al-Diryâq (Thériaque de Paris)
Kitâb al-Diryâq (Thériaque de Paris)
Kitâb al-Diryâq (Thériaque de Paris)
Kitâb al-Diryâq (Thériaque de Paris)
Kitâb al-Diryâq (Thériaque de Paris)
Kitâb al-Diryâq (Thériaque de Paris)
Kitâb al-Diryâq (Thériaque de Paris)
 

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Video
  • Intervista a Françoise Micheau

    03 June 2011 | Min. 11:29

  • Kitâb al-Diryâq - Geo&Geo -

    13 February 2013 | Min. 6:08

  • Kitâb al-Diryâq

    27 December 2010 | Min. 1:57

  • Kitâb al-Diryâq - Uffizi

    29 June 2011 | Min. 4:51

 

 
The works in facsimile, and all our editions can be viewed and purchased at bookstores or fiduciary Aboca www.abocashop.com on the site.
If you would like clarification or information, please call the number 0575/733 589 from 9.00 to 13.00 and from 15.00 to 18.00 (Monday to Friday) and our friendly staff will be available to provide any clarification.
 

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