Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Ibn Baklarish's Book of Simples: Medical Remedies between Three Faiths in Twelfth-Century Spain

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Ibn Baklarish's Book of Simples: Medical Remedies between Three Faiths in Twelfth-Century Spain

Article excerpt

Ibn Baklarish's Book of Simples: Medical Remedies between Three Faiths in Twelfth-Century Spain, ed. Charles Burnett (London and Oxford: The Arcadian Library in association with Oxford University Press, 2008). 176 pp.; 28 plates. ISBN 978-0-19-954306-9. £85.00.

Of Ibn Biklarish we know very few things except that he was Jewish. We are ignorant of the dates of his life (fi. ci 100), his place of birth, and his exact name, for the version adopted in the present volume is far from common, as he is known more often as Ibn Buklarish or Ibn Biklärish (other versions exist). His only extant work, the Kitab al-Musta'ini (named after al-Mustaih bi-Llah, ruler of Saragossa between 1085 and 1 1 10, to whom it was dedicated), on the other hand, has been known to scholars for a long time, though no complete edition exists. Only the lengthy introduction has been edited, while the bulk of the work, consisting of tables giving the names, natures and degrees, synonyms, substitutes, usefulness, properties, and methods of use of some 700 simple drugs, is available only in manuscripts (about a dozen extant). That the editorial process undertaken by Joëlle Ricordel has not yet reached completion now turns out to be fortunate, as the newly found manuscript bought in 2003 by the London-based Arcadian Library, and presented in the articles collected in this volume, is not only beautifully written in a neat Maghribi ductus, but also offers a remarkably good text (except for a couple of pages badly damaged by damp). The manuscript is dated in the colophon to the year 1 130, therefore written only shordy after the composition of the work. This particular manuscript represents the Iberian peninsula very well: not only is the author an Arabic-writing Jew working for a Muslim ruler, the Arab scribe of the main text also wrote some words in Latin language and script. …

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