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Catalogue: Alchemy

Blue arrow pointing to the right Fī sabk al-adīd   (MS P 27, item 2)
(On the Smelting of Iron)
فى سبك الحديد
attributed to Abū Mūsá 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 some 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.

No treatise having the title Fī sabk al-adīd (On the Smelting of Iron) is recorded amongst those attributed to Jābir. Yet the copy at NLM states that it is taken from 'a discussion by Jābir' (min kalam Jābir).

No other copy of the Persian essay has been identified.

Fī sabk al-adīd   (MS P 27, item 2)

Physical Description

Persian. 2 leaves (fols. 39b-40a, line 5). Dimensions 21.4 x 16.6 (text area 16.3 x 9.8) cm; 22-3 lines per page. The title is given on fol. 39b, line 1, and in the following line it is said to be from 'a discussion by Jābir (min kalam Jābir).

The copy was completed by the hand as transcribed the first item in the volume, which was completed at Kashan in the month of Rajab 1133 (= 28 April-27 May 1721) by the scribe ‘Abd al-Ramān Fal Allāh al-Kāshānī.

The text is written in a medium-small naskh script with pink-red overlinings (which may have been added later) and a few headings in about the same color. There are catchwords. The first three items in the volume are by the same copyist.

There is extensive marginalia, much of it apparently written by the copyist and intended as a guide to the contents and a commentary.

The beige paper is nearly matte-finished and has no laid lines or chain lines visible; the edges have been trimmed from their original size. The paper is grease and damp stained and soiled through thumbing. Repairs have been made to fol. 1.

The volume consists of 41 leaves. Fol. 1a is blank except for penciled note (Collection: Risalat Jabir) attributing the volume to Jābir ibn ayyān and an undeciphered phrase in Persian script. Fols. 1a-39a (item 1) contain Kitāb Nihāyat al-alab fī shar Kitāb [al-‘ilm] al-Muktasab dar zirā‘at-i dhahab by al-Jaldakī (MS P 27, item 1); fols. 39b-40a (item 2) a Persian treatise on the smelting of iron, attributed to Jābir ibn ayyān here catalogued; folios 40a-40b an untitled short anonymous Persian essay on winds and rain (MS P 27, item 3); fols. 40b-41b are an Arabic untitled treatise on numerology whose author is given as Zosimos (MS P 27, item 4); and fol. 41b, lower two-thirds, contains an Arabic alchemical chapter from Kitāb al-‘Ilm al-makhzūn fī mufāriah attributed to Jābir ibn ayyān (MS P 27, item 5).


The volume is bound in a red leather modern library binding with envelope flap; modern pastedowns and endpapers.


There is an owner's stamp on fol. 41b (not legible).

The volume was purchased in 1941 by the Army Medical Library from A.S. Yahuda (ELS 2357 m. 127).


Schullian/Sommer, Cat. of incun. & MSS., entry P 27, p. 339.

NLM Microfilm Reel: FILM 48-137 no. 2

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