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‘ali ibn al-‘abbas al-majusi (latinised as 'haly abbas', d.circa 995
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Arabic manuscript on polished paper, 251 leaves, plus 4 flyleaves, 14 lines to the page, written in black ink, headings in larger elongated Kufic script, 4 pages with marginal annotations in Hebrew, later brown morocco binding, with flap   \nThis is an important and extremely rare manuscript of Majusi's 'Complete Book of the Medical Art', also known as 'The Royal Book', and latinised in the West as Liber Regalis. The manuscript appears to have been written during the reign of the Buyid ruler 'Adud al-Daulah (r.949-83 AD) and during the lifetime of the author, rendering it, to the best of our knowledge, the earliest copy of the work known. The author\nAl-Majusi (Latinised as 'Haly') was a Persian physician and psychologist who is considered one of the three greatest physicians of the Abbasid Caliphate along with Razi and Ibn Sina (latinised in the West as 'Avicenna'). He was a Muslim but his forebears were Zoroastrian hence the name al-Majusi. He was born in Ahvaz, Southwestern Persia but lived in Shiraz for most of his life and was a pupil of Abi Maher Ibn Sayyar. It is possible he never left Persia, and died circa 995 AD.\nThe ruler\nFana Khusrau was given the title ’Adud al-Daulah by the Abbasid Caliph in 948-9 AD. He was born in Isfahan in 936 and became ruler in 949. He kept his court in Shiraz and visited Baghdad frequently. He had several Zoroastrian statesmen who served him and who held the name al-Majusi as ‘Ali ibn al-‘Abbas did. ‘Adud al-Daulah spoke and wrote Arabic and studied science in Arabic including astronomy and mathematics and had many religious and secular works dedicated to him. He was also a great patron of medicine and founded a hospital in Shiraz and the al-‘Adudi hospital in Baghdad in 981. He died in Baghdad in 983 at the age of 53. The fact that the benedictory phrase rahima-hu Allah ('may God give him mercy') is not used in reference to either the author al-Majusi, nor the patron 'Adud al-Daulah, indicates that they were both still alive at the time of writing. Indeed, the phrase that can be found following the name of 'Adud al-Daulah - naddara Allah wajha-hu ('may God brighten his face') - refers, in Islamic literary context, to a living person.\nThe text\nAl-Kitab al-Malaki, which al-Majusi completed circa 980 AD, is considered a more systematic and concise encyclopaedia than Razi’s Hawi, and more practical than Avicenna’s 'The Canon of Medicine' by which it was superseded. The work emphasises the need for a healthy relationship between doctors and patients, and the importance of medical ethics. It also provides details on a scientific methodology that is similar to modern biomedical research. The work comprises two books: the first juz’ is on medical theory in ten sections (maqalahs) and the second on therapeutics, also in 10 sections. Each section is divided into babs (chapters) which vary in each maqalah. The text of this manuscript is from juz’ I and starts in bab VI, maqalah I and ends abruptly in bab XXX, maqalah V.\nThere are two fascinating aspects to this manuscript regarding those who have seen or owned it. The first is the presence of Hebrew inscriptions on four separate leaves, giving the name of 'Abus'ad son of Joseph Ha-Cohen', presumably a Jewish physician. Medicine was a very important element of medieval Jewish learning, and Jewish doctors were very involved in the transfer of medical knowledge from the Arabic to the Latin world. Indeed, "One reason for this devotion of Jews to medicine was that the study of medical science was looked upon as a sort of religious duty" (Jewish Chronicle, 19 November 1926, p.17). A Hebrew version of this same text was sold in Sotheby's New York, 17 December 2013, lot 96. The second important aspect is the inclusion of the many reading remarks at the end of chapters which read balaghtu 'ala al-sheikh, literally 'I have reached the sheikh' (see f.81b for example). In the realms of Islamic science and medicine the title Sheikh or al-Sheikh al-Ra'is is reserved for the great Persian polymath Ibn Sina (d.1037 AD). Given the importance of this work, this copy's early date of production and royal patron, we can surmise that these phrases refer to him, suggesting that this manuscript may once have even been read by the 'leader of the wise men' himself.\nThere are seven copies of the work in the Bodleian Library, none of which are complete and are dated from 1161 to 1535 AD (see E. Savage-Smith, A New Catalogue of Arabic Manuscripts, volume I, Oxford, 2011, pp.193-206, entry no.50). There is one copy written in Baghdad and dated 999 AH/1590 AD in the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha (MS.575.OL). There is a further copy dated 841 AH/1437 AD with details of contents of books I and II in Arabic, the Haddad Collection, WMS Arabic 409, see N. Serikoff, Arabic Medical Manuscripts of the Wellcome Library: A Descriptive Catalogue of the Haddad Collection, Leiden, 2005, pp.66-94. Eight more copies dated from 1303 to 1855 AD are in the Wellcome Library, see A. Iskandar, A Catalogue of Arabic Manuscripts on Medicine and Science, London, 1967, pp.119-124. Seven copies dating from 1145 to the fourteenth century are housed in the Chester Beatty Library (see A. Arberry, A Handlist of the Arabic Manuscripts, Dublin, 1959, p.83, no.3995). Another copy of the work dated 1138 AH/1726 AD exists in the Army Medical Library, see Schullian and Sommer, A Catalogue of Incunabula and Manuscripts, New York, n.d., pp.305-306, no.A26, whilst finally there are seven copies dated from 1153 AD to the eighteenth century in the British Library (see C. Baker, Subject Guide to the Arabic Manuscripts, London, 2001, M.3, pp.364-365). See also Brockelmann: GAL, i. 237 (273) and S., i. 423. All of the abovementioned manuscripts post-date the present tenth-century copy.\nThis manuscript is accompanied by a radiocarbon analysis certificate confirming the given date of manufacture.
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condition

In good overall condition, minor smudges and some water staining to opening and closing pages, minor paper repairs to corresponding leaves, pages generally clean, as viewed. "In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."

dimensions

20.5 by 17cm.

provenance

Ownership inscription on f.1b giving the name of Sheikh Baha' al-Din al-'Amili (d.1621), the eminent Islamic scholar and polymath, dated 994 AH/1585 AD Various ownership inscriptions in Hebrew naming Abus'ad son of Joseph Ha-Cohen, probably pre-16th century


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