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Catalogue: Alchemy

Blue arrow pointing to the right Kitāb al-Mujarradāt     (MS A 70, item 18)
(The Book of Abstractions)
كتاب المجردات
attributed to Jābir ibn ayyān (8th-9th century)
جابر ابن حيان

A large number of miscellaneous writings have been attributed to Jābir ibn ayyān that are not listed as part of one of the major collective works that circulated under his name. Amongst such writings, NLM has three treatises that are attested to being attributed to Jābir in other sources, as well as several that are stated to be by Jābir ibn ayyān in the NLM manuscript copy but are not recorded in the published bibliographic literature on Jabir.

Medieval bibliographers placed a treatise titled Kitāb al-Mujarradāt al-awwal (The First Book of Abstractions,), or Kitāb al-Mujarradāt al-kabir (The Large Book of Abstractions), among the early works of Jābir ibn ayyān. There was in addition a Small Book of Abstractions, also known as The Second Book of Abstractions.

NLM has a manuscript that contains an extract (al-mukhtarat) from a treatise by this name. Jābir is not specified as the author, and it occurs between two treatises ascribed to Khālid ibn Yazīd. Nonetheless, the majority of treatises in the composite alchemical volume making up MS A 70 are ascribed to Jābir ibn ayyān, and consequently it is possible that this is an extract of the treatise by that name usually ascribed to Jābir.

For other copies of the Jābirian treatises Kitāb al-Mujarradāt awwal and Kitāb al-Mujarradāt al-saghir/al-thānī, see Kraus, Jabir, pp. 30-1 nos. 63-4 and Sezgin, GAS IV, p. 235 nos. 32-33.

Kitāb al-Mujarradāt [extracts from]   (MS A 70, item 18)

Physical Description

Arabic. 2 leaves (Fol. 52b, line 10-fol. 53b, line 11). Dimensions 21.3 x 16.8 (text area 15 x 10) cm; 20 lines per page. On fol. 52b, line 10, it is stated that this is a selection from (mukhtarat min) [Kitāb] al-Mujarradāt.

The copy is undated and unsigned. The appearance of the paper, ink, and script suggests a date of the 17th or 18th century.

The text is written in a small, compact naskh script using black ink with headings and overlinings in red. There are catchwords. All twenty-seven items in this volume were transcribed by the same unnamed copyist. On some leaves there are instructions written vertically in the margins to the person who later inserted the rubricated headings; most have been cut off as the edges were trimmed.

There are copious marginalia throughout in several hands, with some interlinear notes. A later hand has written the titles of various individual items in the volume in the upper left corners of the recto of some folios. One of the person adding marginalia to the volume frequently cites the alchemical authority al-Jaldakī.

Fols. 1-40 are composed of a biscuit, fibrous paper having a nearly matte finish, with neither laid lines nor chain lines. Fols. 41-67 are composed of paper dyed a light gray, of structure and finish similar to the first group. The edges have been trimmed from their original size. The volume is damp-stained and soiled through thumbing.

The volume consists of 67 leaves and one loose leaf. Fol. 1a is blank except for some later Turkish poetry and an owner's stamp. The loose leaf is smaller (ca. 18 x 11 cm) and of different paper from the rest of the volume; on it are miscellaneous and very casually written notes. Fols. 1b-12a (item 1) contain Kitāb al-Sirr al-sārr wa-sirr al-asrār by Jābir ibn ayyān (MS A 70, item 1); fols. 12a-13b (item 2) Kitāb Jannāt al-khuld by Jābir ibn ayyān (MS A 70, item 2 ); fols. 13b-20b (item 3) Kitāb al-Ramah al-kabīr by Jābir ibn ayyān (MS A 70, item 3); fols. 20b-22a (item 4) Kitāb al-Iqāq min sab‘īn [extracts] by al-Rāzī (MS A 70, item 4); fols. 22a-24a (item 5) an untitled treatise attributed to Hirmīs [Hermes Trismegistus] (MS A 70, item 5); fols. 24a-27b (item 6) Kitāb al-Tadābīr by al-Rāzī (MS A 70, item 6); fols. 28a-29a (item 7) Kitāb al-Rāhib by Jābir ibn ayyān (MS A 70, item 7); fols 29a-30b (item 8) Kitāb al-Āthar al-‘ulwīyah by Aristotle (MS A 70, item 8); fols. 30b-31b (item 9) Risālah al-Fahm al-thāqib ilá al-fahm al-murāqib attributed to Plato (MS A 70, item 9); fols. 31b-33b (item 10) Risālah Mufākharat al-ajār attributed to Jābir ibn ayyān (MS A 70, item 10); fols. 33b-37b (item 11) extracts from writings of al-ughrā’ī (MS A 70, item 11); fols. 38a-38b (item 12) untitled treatise attributed to Agathodaimon (MS A 70, item 12); fols. 39a-41a (item 13) Risālah fī inā‘at al-iksīr by Amad ibn ‘Imād al-Dīn (MS A 70, item 13); fols. 41a-45a (item 14) Risālah fī bayān tafrīq al-adyān wa-tafarru‘ al-‘ibādāt wa-al-diyānāt wa-al-i‘tiqādāt by Zosimos (MS A 70, item 14); fols. 45a-47b (item 15) Kitāb al-Fuūl attributed to Jābir ibn ayyān (MS A 70, item 15); fols. 47b-48b (item 16) extracts from writings of al-ughrā’ī (MS A 70, item 16); fols. 49a-52b (item 17) untitled risālah attributed to Khālid ibn Yazīd (MS A 70, item 17); fols. 52b-53b (item 18) Kitāb al-Mujarradāt [extracts] attributed to Jābir ibn ayyān here catalogued; fols. 53b-57b (item 19) Masā’il attributed to Khālid ibn Yazīd (MS A 70, item 19); fols. 57b-60a (item 20) Kitāb al-Sirr al-Maknūn by Jābir ibn ayyān (MS A 70, item 20); fols. 60a-63a (item 21) extract (nubdhah) from the writings of al-ughrā’ī (MS A 70, item 21); fols. 63a-63b (item 22) Aqwāl al-mutaffariqāt, anonymous (MS A 70, item 22); fols. 63b, lines 6-13 (item 23), alchemical note, anonymous (MS A 70, item 23); fols. 63b-64a (item 24) Kitāb al-Mawāzīn [extracts] by Jābir ibn ayyān (MS A 70, item 24); fols. 64a-64b (item 25) Kitāb al-Sirr al-Maknūn [extract] by Jābir ibn ayyān (MS A 70, item 25); fols 64b-67a (item 26) Kitāb al-Ajār ‘alá ra’y Balīnās by Jābir ibn ayyān (MS A 70, item 26); and fols. 67a-67b (item 27) untitled treatise attributed to Agathodaimon (MS A 70, item 27).


The volume is bound in a soft brown-leather binding. On each cover there is a blind-tooled design formed of straight lines. There are no pastedowns or endpapers.


On fol. 1b there is an impression of an owner's stamp whose date might be 1123 (= 1711), though the middle numerals are not clear, and the name might be Abū Nūr Muammad al-usaynī. On fol. 1a there is an unidentified library stamp.

The volume was purchased in 1941 by the Army Medical Library from A.S. Yahuda (ELS 1701 Med 120).


Schullian/Sommer, Cat. of incun. & MSS., entry A 70, p. 320, where says it a collection of 32 alchemical treatises.

NLM Microfilm Reel: FILM 48-126 no. 3

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