- Gallery Text
Translations into Arabic of scientific and philosophical treatises from the Greco-Roman world laid a critical foundation for the advances made by Muslim physicians, scientists, and mathematicians. De materia medica, on the therapeutic properties of natural substances — plants, minerals, and animals — was written about two thousand years ago by the Greek author Dioscorides. Widely translated, emended, and supplemented, the text served as the basis for writing on pharmaceuticals and herbs until the end of the sixteenth century in Byzantium, western Europe, and the Middle East.
The manuscript from which these folios come has attracted considerable scholarly attention for its inclusion of animal and human figures. Although extraneous to the text, the figures provide a view of medieval Muslims in the last decades of the Abbasid caliphate. On one page, the plant Kestron (betony) is flanked by two men — presumably a physician wearing a hooded cloak and his youthful companion shouldering a spear. The text advises on ways to prepare the plant for use as an emetic, purgative, or antidote. On the other page, two birds create a symmetrical composition on the leaves of the plant Verbascum (mullein), which, properly concocted, soothes coughs, toothaches, eye inflammations, and ulcers.
- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
- Warrior and Physician with the Plant Kestron (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the De Materia Medica of Dioscorides
- Other Titles
- Series/Book Title: De Materia Medica
- Work Type
- manuscript folio
- Creation Place: Middle East, Iraq, Baghdad?
- Abbasid period
- Physical Descriptions
- Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
- folio: 32.8 x 23.7 cm (12 15/16 x 9 5/16 in.)
- Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, Bequest - Estate of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. Old notebook files also list F.R. Martin
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- Asian and Mediterranean Art
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- Publication History
F.R. Martin, The Miniature Painting and Painters of Persia, India and Turkey, from the 8th to the 18th century, B. Quaritch (London, England, 1912), vol. 2, pl. 6b
Eric Schroeder, "Mrs. Rockefeller's Miniatures at the Fogg", The Connoisseur (August 1961), vol. 148, pp. 70-75, p. 72, fig. 3
Marianna Shreve Simpson, Arab and Persian Painting in the Fogg Art Museum, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1980), no. 1, pp. 9-11, 15, 16, 17, ill.
Alain Touwaide, Farmacopea Araba Medievale, Antea Edizioni (Milan, Italy, 1992 - 1993), pp 76, fig. 69
- Exhibition History
Arab and Persian Painting, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 02/10/1981 - 03/09/1981
Islamic Art and the Written Word, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 10/05/1983 - 11/27/1983
Islamic Art: The Power of Pattern, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 09/23/1989 - 01/17/1990
Paintings for Princes: The Art of the Book in Islam, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/27/1990 - 03/25/1990
32Q: 2550 Islamic, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014 - 05/14/2015
- Subjects and Contexts
Google Art Project
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