Banner featuring Arabic calligraphy in dark blue ink above the words Islamic Medical Manuscripts at the National Library of Medicine written in burgundy ink.

Catalogue: Crafts and Technologies

Blue arrow pointing to the right Rum al-kha   (MS A 86, item 4)
(The Spear of Writing)
رمح الخط
by Qiwām al-Dīn Muammad al-asanī (fl. 1694-1719/1106-1132)
قوام الدين محمد الحسنى

Five Arabic poems by Qiwām al-Dīn Muammad al-asanī were collectively titled al-Khamsah al-Qazwiniyah (The Five Qazwini [poems]), a reference to the fact that the author worked in the Persian city of Qazwin. The five poems are concerned with medicine, astronomy, arithmetic, calligraphy, proper conduct. The didactic poem on calligraphy has been placed here amongst crafts and technologies.

The copy at NLM was copied by a professional scribe for the author, whose stamps are in the volume, next to statement that he corrected and collated (balagha) the volume in the year 1132 [= 1719-1720]. Only one other copy of these five poems is recorded, and it is now in Mosul, in Iraq (Mosul, MS 294; see GAL-S, vol. 1 p. 826).

Rum al-kha   (MS A 86, item 4)


Folio 79b of MS A 86 which features the beginning of Qiwām al-Dīn Muḥammad al-Ḥasanī's Rumḥ al-khaṭṭ   (The Spear of Writing). The thin, lightly-glossed, brown paper has horizontal laid lines and is stained and water damaged near the edge. The text is written in a medium-small professional calligraphic naskh script, fully vocalized with black and red ink.
MS A 86, fol. 79b

The beginning of a poem on the calligraphy composed by Qiwām al-Dīn Muammad al-asanī, who worked in the Persian city of Qazwin. This copy was made by a professional copyist for the author himself, who placed his stamps in the volume and collated it in the year 1719/1132.

Physical Description

Arabic. 5 leaves (fols. 79b-83a). Dimensions 18.2 x 11.5; text area 13.7 x 8.2 cm; 16 lines per page. The title is given on the title page (fol. 1a), on fol. 79b, line 6, and and again on fol. 83a, line 7. The author's name is given as Qiwān on fol. 79b, line 2.

The copy is undated, but was produced between 1700/1112, when the poem on arithmetic was written, and the year 1720/1132, when the author wrote, alongside his stamp, that he corrected the volume.

The text is written in a medium-small professional calligraphic naskh script, fully vocalized. The text area has been frame-ruled. There are scattered marginalia and textual corrections. The entire volume was copied by the same scribe. The copy was corrected (balagha) by the author himself in the year 1132 [1719-1720], for there are dated notes alongside the author's stamp later in the volume (fols. 72a and 90b).

The thin, lightly-glossed, brown paper is now quite discoloured. It is fibrous and has inclusions, with horizontal laid lines but no chain lines. It is stained and water damaged near the edges and some folios have been repaired.

The volume consists of 90 leaves. Fols. 46, 47a and 72b are blank. The first item (fols. 1b-45b) is the medical poem; the second item (folis. 47b-72a) is a poem on arithmetic; the third item (fols. 73a-79a) a poem on the astrolabe; the fourth item (fols. 79b-83a) is the poem on calligraphy here catalogued; and the final item (fols. 83a-90b) a poem on proper conduct.


The volume is bound in a modern European library binding of pasteboards covered with brown leather. There are modern paper pastedowns and endpapers.


The volume was owned by the author, Qiwām al-Dīn Muammad al-asanī, whose stamp appears on fols. 72a and 90b, at the end of the second and fifth poems, alongside a hand written note that he corrected (balagha) the volume in the year 1132 [1719-1720].

The volume was purchased in 1941 by the Army Medical Library from A.S. Yahuda (ELS 1738 Med. 50).


Schullian/Sommer, Cat. of incun. & MSS., p. 326 entry A86, item 4, where it is said that the manuscript is "in the author's own hand."

NLM Microfilm Reel: FILM 48-129 no. 3.

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