Not only were abridgements made of the Canon of Medicine by Ibn Sīnā, but numerous explanatory commentaries were written on parts of as well as the entire Canon. Possibly the earliest commentary on the Canon was composed by the Egyptian Jewish physician Ibn Jumay‘, who died in 1198/594 H. The National Library of Medicine does not have a copy of that particular commentary. In fact, relatively few commentaries on the Canon have come into the collections of NLM. Extensive selections from the commentary on the anatomical portions of the Canon that was written by Ibn al-Nafīs in the 13th century are preserved in the margins of two manuscripts discussed above: MS A 27 (item 2) and MS A 56. NLM also has a quite late commentary by Hakim ‘Ali al-Jilani written at the end of the 16th century, and a short anonymous commentary on some medical terms found in the Canon.
A commentary attributed to Hakīm ‘Alī al-Jilānī on the Canon on Medicine of Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna) is preserved in several copies, one of which is at NLM. Most of the preserved copies cover only the first book of the Canon, but the NLM copy indicates that a commentary on the second book was intended to follow, and there are manuscript copies of his commentary on the remaining books of the Canon preserved in London at the British Library and the Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine.
In the long preface to the commentary (omitted from the NLM copy but found in British Library, OIOC MS Or. 5586 and India Office Loth MS 781), the commentator, ‘Alī al-Jilānī, criticizes his predecessors, including Ibn al-Nafīs (d. 1288/678 H) and Muḥammad ibn Mahmud al-Amuli (fl. 1350/750 H). The latter, ‘Alī al-Jilānī says, wrote his commentary hastily and without much preparation and care, for the use of princes coming from remote lands to read the Canon with him. ‘Alī al-Jilānī goes on to recommend his own commentary, on which he says he spent over thirty years of his life.
In the NLM copy of ‘Alī al-Jilānī's commentary, copious marginalia contain several references to al-Amuli, and these may be an attempt by a later copyist to draw attention to al-Amuli's earlier commentary. For a copy of al-Amuli's commentary on the first book of the Canon, see British Library, OIOC, MS Or. 3654 (Hamarneh, "British Library", p. 108 no. 125); and Savage-Smith, "Bodleian", MS Arab.d.193.
Other copies include those in London, Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine, MS Arab 156, books 3 and 4 only; British Library, OIOC, MSS Or. 115 and 5586 (book 1 only), MS 5833 (book 3 only), and India Office coll. Loth MSS 781, 782, 782, 784 (books 1, 2, 3, and 5). see Iskandar, "Wellcome", p. 182-3; Alexander George Ellis and Edward Edwards, A Descriptive List of the Arabic Manuscripts acquired by the Trustees of the British Museum since 1894, London, 1912, p. 44; Hamarneh, "British Library", p. 104 (no. 111) and 108 (nos. 126 and 127); and Otto Loth, A Catalogue of the Arabic Manuscripts in the Library of the India Office, London, 1877, p. 228-9.
Two marginal diagrams of the upper jaw and teeth, from a copy of the commentary by Hakīm ‘Alī al-Jilānī (d. 1609/1017) on the Canon on Medicine by Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna). It is an undated copy of the early 18th century.
A marginal diagram of the side of the skull, labeled sudgh, which refers to the squamous part of the temporal bone. From a copy of the commentary by Hakīm ‘Alī al-Jilānī (d. 1609/1017) on the Canon on Medicine by Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna). It is an undated copy of the early 18th century.
Arabic. 256 leaves (fols. 1b-256a). Dimensions 41.7 x 27.5; text area 34 x 17.3 cm with some fol. 35.5 x 20 cm; 25-37 lines per page. The title is given in the colophon (fol. 256a/old 257a, line 19) as Sharḥ al-Kitāb al-awwal min kutub al-Qānūn (Commentary on the First Book of the Canon). In the upper left corner of fol. 1a (otherwise blank), there is a later annotation: al-juz' al-awwal min Sharḥ Qanun bi-Hakīm ‘Ali (The First Part of the Commentary on the Canon by Hakīm ‘Ali). The author of the commentary is not apparently named in the manuscript, except for this later annotation. A recent owner's label on the front preliminary folio states in Arabic that the volume is Sharḥ kulliyat Qānūn Ibn Sīnā bi-Sharḥ al-Amuli (A Commentary on the Kulliyat [first book] of the Canon of Ibn Sīnā, with a Commentary by al-Amuli)
This manuscript contains the commentary on the first book only. The text and most of the marginalia correspond exactly to that found in the British Library, OIOC, India Office MS Loth 781, fols. 12b-598a, which was composed by Hakīm ‘Alī al-Jilānī, though the cataloger noted that the surname Jilānī was given to him in an inscription of a later date (see Otto Loth, A Catalogue of the Arabic Manuscripts in the Library of the India Office, London, 1877, p. 228). The text, but not the marginalia, also corresponds to the British Library, OIOC, MS Or. 5586, which is catalogued as the first volume of the commentary on the Canon by ‘Ali al-Jilani (see Alexander George Ellis and Edward Edwards, A Descriptive List of the Arabic Manuscripts Acquired by the Trustees of the British Museum Since 1894, London, 1912, p. 44). Sami Hamarneh, however, doubts the attribution to Hakīm ‘Alī (see Hamarneh, "NLM", p. 92).
This is a nearly complete copy of the commentary on the first book. One folio is missing following fol. 54, for which reason the old numbering on the leaves, beginnng at fol. 56, is off by one from the recent foliation. The colophon indicates that the commentary on the 2nd book of the Canon should follow, but it is missing from this copy.
The copy is undated. The appearance of the paper, ink, and script suggests a date of the late 18th century. On fol. 256a (old 257a) there is an owner's stamp dated 1269/1852-3 and a later reader's note stating that he collated it against another copy and corrected it on 16 Rabi` I 1277 [2 October 1860].
The text is written in several different hands in indifferent and casual large naskh or medium-small nasta‘liq. The text area has not been frame-ruled, but rather vertical borders were formed by folding the paper lengthwise. Black ink with headings in red and red overlinings. There are marginalia in several hands and Persian interlinear notes.
There are drawings of various anatomical structures: very small diagrams of cranial sutures on fol. 57a (old 58a) and fol. 57b (old 58b); on fol. 60a (old 61a) two marginal diagrams of the upper jaw and teeth; on fol. 60b (old 61b) a marginal diagram of the side of the skull, labeled sudgh, referring to the squamous part of the temporal bone; on fol. 83a (old 84a) a diagram in the text itself of the muscles of the neck, two pairs of which form a triangle; and an unfinished head in the margin of fol. 100b (old 101b).
The biscuit semi-glossy paper is thick and has wavy indistinct laid lines, but no chain lines visible. It is waterstained and wormeaten. The edges have been trimmed from their original size, and some edges repaired.
The volume consists of 257 leaves and 3 preliminary leaves. Fols. 1a (except for corner annotation of title) and 257b (old 258b) are blank. The preliminary leaves [1b-3b] contain a table of contents in a later hand; prelim fol. [1a] is blank except for an owner's note and miscellaneous notes, including the statement that it is a commentary on the Canon with the commentary of al-Amuli. Fol. 256b (old 257b) has later notes on an unidentified subject, written diagonally and upside down; fol. 257a (old 258a) has notes in two different hands giving numerical values of letters.
On fol. 256a (old 257a) there is an owner's stamp of ‘Abd [Allāh] Ḥasan Muḥammad al-Ḥusaynī dated 1269/1852-3.
The volume was purchased in 1941 by the Army Medical Library from A.S. Yahuda, who acquired it from a dealer in Lahore (ELS no. 1601, Med. 77).
NLM Microfilm Reel: FILM 48-124 item 2
A list of medical terms compiled predominately from the Canon on Medicine by Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna). The compiler of the list is not named.
Kashf ba‘d al-lughah min al-Qānūn wa-ghayrihi (MS A 27 item 2)
Arabic. 2 leaves (fols. 38b-39b). Dimensions 24 x 13.6 cm; text area 16.3 x 6.8 cm; 19 lines per page. The title is given on fol. 38b, line 1. The compiler of the list from the Canon and other sources is not named.
The text was copied in a different, and probably later, hand than transcribed items 1, 3, and 4 in the volume, which were copied in 1584/992 H. see MS A 27, item 1.
All the items in the volume are written on the same type of paper. The burnished, glossy beige paper has lightly scattered fibers, vertical slightly curved laid lines, and faint single chain lines (but no watermarks). The paper is waterdamaged and stained with thumbing and grease. The edges have been trimmed from their original size, and some of the marginal commentaries have been cut off.
The volume consists of 77 leaves. Fol. 1a is blank except for an incorrect title in a later hand and the trace of an owner's note. Fols. 40a and 77b are blank; fols. 40b and 77a are blank except for an owner's annotations. The first item (fols. 1b-38a) contains the anatomical sections from the Qānūn of Avicenna (MS A 27, item 1); the second item (fols. 38b-39b) is Kashf ba‘d al-lughah min al-Qānūn wa-ghayrihi here catalogued; and the third item on fol. 41a is a short anonymous essay on oxymel (MS A 27, item 3). The fourth item (fols. 41b-75a) is an anonymous treatise on prognostics (MS A 27, item 4), and the final item (fols. 75b-76b) contains magical procedures and invocations useful for illness (MS A 27, item 5).
On fol. 40b there is a note stating that the owner (malik) is Isḥāq, the physician in Damascus (tabib fi Damashq al-sham) in the year 1240 [= 1824-5]. On fol. 77a there are various owners' notations, including the statement that this volume is the Kanz al-atibba' (The Treasure of Physicians) belonging to al-faqir Isḥāq the physician (al-tabib) in the year 1251 [= 1835-6] and another statement that this Kanz al-atibba' belonged to one of the skilled wound-healers (ahad min al-hudhdhaq al-sabur) Isḥāq Dhilṭā al-Yahūdī, medical practitioner in Damascus (al-mutatabbib fi Dimashq al-Sham); this is presumably the same owner. His assistant (‘Abd) is named, on both fol. 77a and in yet another signature on fol. 38a, as Ibraham Rumanu tabib. On fol. 1a the title Kanz al-atibba' is repeated. On the basis of these owners' notes, Sommer incorrectly catalogued this manuscript as a copy of a treatise titled Kanz al-atibba' written by Malik Iskaq, a Jewish physician of Damascus (see Schullian/Sommer, Cat. of incun. MSS., p. 306 entry A27).
The volume was purchased in 1941 by the Army Medical Library from A. S. Yahuda who acquired it in Cairo. NLM MS A 23 was acquired in Cairo in the same lot. On the front endpaper several earlier labels have been pasted, including one giving the designation "ELS 1665" and two smaller ones "M[ed.] 44".
Schullian/Sommer, Cat. of incun. MSS., p. 306 entry A27 [this item is incorrectly catalogued as a copy of a treatise titled Kanz al-atibba' written by Malik Ishaq, a Jewish physician of Damascus]; Hamarneh, "NLM" p. 82, where it is said that it is a compilation made by a "a certain Jewish Physician, Malak Ishaq of Damascus, possibly of the early Mamluk period", and it is stated that the copy was made in Shar Dilman.
NLM Microfilm Reel: FILM 48-117 no. 3 .
Nafīs ibn ‘Iwāḍ al-Kirmānī's commentary on Najīb al-Dīn al-Samarqandī's treatise was written in Samarqand for the ruler Ulugh Beg and completed at the end of the month of Safar in 827 [= January 1424]; see (see Ḥājjī Khalifah, Kashf al-zunun, ed. Flügel (Leipzig 1835-58), vol. 1, p. 77). The commentary prepared by al-Kirmānī did not cover the final chapter al-Samarqandī's encyclopaedia, which was concerned with poisonous substances and noxious animals. For this reason, some preserved copies of al-Kirmānī's commentary supplement the commentary with the uncommented chapter on poisons from al-Samarqandī's encylopedia, as seen in the copy now at NLM. Al-Kirmānī's commentary was an enormously popular treatise and prompted a number of supercommentaries to be written on it. In the 18th century it was translated into Persian and amplified by Muḥammad Akbar, known as Muhammad Arzani, under the title Tibb al-Akbar or "Akbar's Medicine".
Numerous copies are preserved today. For other copies, see A. Z. Iskandar, "A Study of al-Samarqandi's Medical Writings", Le Muséon, vol. 85 (1972), pp. 467-8 note 113; Dietrich, Medicinalia, pp. 122-124 no. 52; Adam Gacek, Arabic Manuscripts in the Libraries of McGill University: Union Catalog (Montreal: McGill University, 1991), p. 173 no. 192; Usamah Nasir Naqshabandi, Makhtutat al-tibb wa-al-saydalah wa-al-baytarah fi Maktabat al-Muthaf al-‘Iraqi (Baghdad: Wizarat al-Thaqafah wa-al-I‘lam, 1981) pp. 185-189, nos. 358-369; and Savage-Smith, "Bodleian", MSS Marsh 249, Arab. d. 143, and Arab. d. 192; Washington, D.C., Library of Congress, Arabic MSS 563 and 564. For lithographed printings, see Iskandar, "Wellcome", p. 174 note 1.
Sharḥ al-Asbāb wa-al-‘alāmāt (MS A 60, item 1)
The illuminated opening at the beginning of a copy of Nafīs ibn ‘Iwāḍ al-Kirmānī's commentary on Najīb al-Dīn al-Samarqandī's book "Causes and Symptoms". The copy is undated, but the general appearance of the paper, ink, and script suggests a dating of about 1500.
Arabic. 594 leaves (fol. 1b-594a). Dimensions 18.3 x 10.5; text area 13.5 x 6.5; 19-21 lines per page. The title Sharḥ-i Asbab [wa-]‘alamat is given in the illuminated opening on fol. 1b. It is more commonly written as Sharḥ al-Asbāb wa-al-‘alāmāt. The name of the author is given in the text (fol.1b, line 9) as Nafīs ibn ‘Iwāḍ ibn Hakīm al-tabib [the physician]. The dedication to Ulugh Beg is given on fol. 2b, line 5.
This is a complete copy of Nafis ibn ‘Iwad al-Kirmānī's commentary, which did not cover the last chapter of al-Samarqandī's treatise (on antidotes to poisonous substances) but stopped with the section on dislocated and sprained joints. The second item in this volume is the final portion of al-Samarqandī's treatise, written by the same scribe and intended to supplement the commentary by al-Kirmānī (see MS A 60, item 2).
The copy is undated. The appearance of the paper, script, illuminated headings and decorative medallion suggests a dating of about 1500. It must have been produced before an owner's stamp dated 1082 [= 1671-2] was placed in it.
The text is written in a fine and careful naskh script, with considerable vocalization in the first part of the volume. The text area has been frame-ruled. Dense black ink with headings in red. There are also red overlinings and red marginal section-headings. At fol. 313 the hand changes slightly (though still clearly part of the same workshop), the number of lines per page change from 19 to 21, the handwriting becomes smaller, and there is no vocalization. Fols. 82, 83, 224 and 225 were copied by the same scribe as copied fols. 313-607. Throughout the volume the text has been written within frames formed of three black thin lines, two filled with gilt, and an outside blue line (these borders are missing from fols. 483b, 484a, 485a, and 486a). There are some catchwords, mostly in the part written by the second scribe. There are marginal emendations, some written by the copyists, and a number of glosses throughout (occasionally interlinear), in several hands with some in Persian. The text has also been collated (collation notes on fols. 180b, 191b, etc.).
Fol. 1b has an illuminated opening in opaque watercolors and gold. Fol. 1a has an illuminated mandorla medallion with a gold center and a wide frame of opaque watercolors; the writing in the center over the gold area has been defaced and partly cut out, and an owner's stamp dated 1082 [= 1671-2] was impressed over part of the medallion. The area around the medallion has been pasted over with blank paper.
There are marginal illustrations (added later) of the eye and visual system on fol. 191b and a diagram explainng the refraction of light through water on fol. 201a. In the text itself, in the section on swellings (awram) of the liver, there is an illustration of the abdominal muscles and their relationship to the swellings that can occur on the liver (fol. 355b).
The gray, glossy paper is very thin with wavy laid lines and on some folios traces of irregular chain lines. The paper is slightly grease-stained at the top. The edges have been trimmed from their original size, and folios near the start of the volumes have had edges replaced. The text area of fol. 30 has been cut out and remounted on more recent paper. Fol. 1 is guarded.
The volume consists of 607 leaves and one unnumbered preliminary leaf. Fol. 1a is blank but for a partially obliterated illuminated medallion and an owner's stamp. Fols. 594b-607a is the final section of al-Samarqandī's treatise The Causes and Symptoms. Fol. 607b is blank. Fol. 180b has attached to it a small piece of paper (11.2 x 6.5 cm) with a casually written Persian note on it, unrelated to the text; fol. 313b has a similar small piece of paper attached to it.
The volume is bound in pasteboard covers and envelope flap, covered with black leather; the covers and envelope flap have blind-tooled borders. The spine has been repaired. The doublures are of fairly recent blue, white, and maroon printed paper, repaired with blue cloth tape. There are paper endpapers.
An owner's stamp dated 1082 [1671-2] was impressed over the illuminated (partially obliterated) medallion on fol. 1a.
The volume was purchased in 1941 by the Army Medical Library from A.S. Yahuda, who acquired it in Baghdad (ELS 2374 M; former 47).
Schullian/Sommer, Cat. of incun. & MSS., p. 317 entry A60;
Hamarneh, "NLM", p. 100.
NLM Microfilm Reel: FILM 48-123 no. 7
Arabic. 13 leaves (fols. 1a-13b). Dimensions 19.5 x 11; text area 15.5 x 8.1; 21-23 lines per page. There is no title page. The title Hadhihi al-ḥawāshin allati amla'ha ‘alá Sharḥihi li-l-Asbāb wa-al-‘alāmāt ("marginal glosses which he [the author] added to his commentary on The Causes and Symptoms) is taken from the start of the text (fol. 1a, lines 2-3). The author is named in the text (fol. 1a, line 1) as Nafīs ibn ‘Iwāḍ al-Kirmānī al-Hakīm al-mutatabbib (the physician).
The copy is undated. The general appearance of the paper, ink, and script suggests a date of the late 18th century.
The text is written in a medium-small, inelegant and inconsistent naskh script. The text area is not frame-ruled, and the text is written in uneven lines. The text on fol. 11-13 is written diagonally. Black ink. There are catchwords. There are some marginal corrections by the copyist. The copyist appears to be the same as that in manuscript NLM A 58.1.
No information is available on its provenance or when it came into the collections of NLM. It was in the library of NLM by 1955, but it was not included in the Schullian/Sommer catalogue.
Hamarneh, "NLM", p. 100.
NLM Microfilm Reel: FILM 55-42 no. 2
In 1701/1113 H, the Sufi physician Muḥammad Akbar, known as Muḥammad Arzānī, completed his amplified Persian translation of Nafis ibn ‘Iwad al-Kirmani's commentary on the Book of Causes and Symptoms of Najib al-Din al-Samarqandi, and he dedicated it to ‘Alamgir, the Mughal ruler of India whose court was at Delhi. Muḥammad Akbar's Persian version of al-Kirmānī's commentary was titled "Akbar's Medicine" (Ṭ al-Akbar or Ṭ-i Akbarī). In the introduction to the treatise, Muḥammad Akbar (also known as Muḥammad Arzānī) stated that he omitted some unnecessary arguments found in al-Kirmānī's Commentary on the 'Causes and Symptoms' and added other pertinent material from the Canon on Medicine by Avicenna, the Hawi by al-Rāzī, the Mūjiz by Ibn al-Nafīs, and the commentaries on the Mūjiz written by al-Āqsarā’ī and al-Kāzarūnī.
Akbar's Medicine consists of 27 chapters (babs) and a conclusion (khatimah). It is concerned with the symptoms and treatment of diseases specific to particular parts, arranged under the names of illness beginning with those affecting the head, as well as general diseases. The conclusion (in two parts) deals with the properties of compound remedies and medical terminology.
For other copies, see Keshevaraz, "Wellcome", pp. 159-163; Richter-Bernburg, "UCLA", pp. 151-2; Storey PL II, pp. 270-1; Catalogue of the Arabic and Persian Manuscripts in the Oriental Public Library at Bankipore, vol. 11 (Patna: Government Printing, 1927), pp. 31-32; Hew Haven (Connecticut), Yale University, Beineke Library, Persian no. +101 (uncatalogued). For lithographed printings, see A. Z. Iskandar, "A Study of al-Samarqandi's Medical Writings", Le Muséon, vol. 85 (1972), p. 468 note 113.
Ṭibb al-Akbar (MS P 20, item 1)
The first page of text, following the table of contents, in the amplified Persian translation of Nafīs ibn ‘Iwad al-Kirmānī's commentary on Najib al-Din al-Samarqandī's Book on Causes and Symptoms that was known as Ṭibb al-Akbar or "Akbar's Medicine" and written in 1701/1113 H by Muḥammad Akbar, also known as Muḥammad Arzānī. The copy is undated; it appears to have been made in the 18th century.
Persian. 553 leaves (fols. 1b-553b). Dimensions; 20 lines per page. The author's name is given in the preface to the text (fol. 10a, line 5). On the same folio, lines 12-14, it is stated to be a version of the Sharḥ al-Asbab wa-al-‘alamat by Nafīs ibn ‘Iwad al-Kirmānī. The title Ṭibb al-Akbar is given on fol. 1b, line 1, at the start of the table of contents, which is labeled Fihrist Kitāb Ṭibb al-Akbar.
This is a complete copy of Muḥammad Arzānī's amplified Persian translation of the commentary by Nafīs ibn ‘Iwad al-Kirmānī. A table of contents occupies fols.1b-9b, with the text itself beginning on fol. 10a. The table of contents is written in a different hand from the main text, 15 lines to a page, and on slightly different, but similar, paper.
The copy is undated. The general appearance of the paper, script, and ink suggests a dating of the 18th century.
The main text is written in a medium-small ta‘liq. Dense black ink with headings in red and red overlinings. The hand appears to change slightly and become larger and more cursive from fol. 485a onward. There are catchwords. There are marginal corrections, and the copy has been collated (collation notes on 95a etc). There are also a few later marginalia in various hands.
The thin, glossy, biscuit paper has only indistinct wavy laid lines visible. The paper is wormeaten and water damaged at the top. The edges have been trimmed from their original size. The first 50 leaves have been numbered in pencil in Western numerals, paginated from left to right with numerals 511-560. The volume has been recently refoliated correctly.
The volume consists of 559 leaves and one unnumbered preliminary leaf. Fols. 554-559 (MS P 20, item 2) contain six anatomical illustrations. Fols. 554a, 555b, 556a, 557b, 558a, and 559b are blank. Folio 1a is blank except for a later note on compound remedies (mujarrabat). The preliminary folio [1a-1b] has a table of contents for three chapters (babs) from a different treatise (on diseases of the head, eyes,and ears), added later.
The volume was purchased in 1940 by the Army Medical Library from the New York dealer Maggs. See, Maggs Bros. Ltd [sale catalogue], Manuscripts of Asia, Africa and Europe in thirty different languages, Catalogue 687, Spring 1940 (London, 1940), p. 31, Lot 137.
Maggs Bros. Ltd [sale catalogue], Manuscripts of Asia, Africa and Europe in thirty different languages, Catalogue 687, Spring 1940 (London, 1940), p. 31, Lot 137; Schullian/Sommer, Cat. of incun. & MSS., p. 336, entry P20.
NLM Microfilm Reel: FILM 48-135 no. 3