This lengthy Persian didactic medical poem covering all aspects of medical theory and therapeutics is preserved in only two recorded copies: the one at NLM and one in Oxford. The first folio of the NLM copy is missing, and with it the author's name. The author, however, is given in the copy now in Oxford (Bodleian Library, Oriental Collections, MS Ouseley 125, fols. 293a-260b; see E. Sachau, completed by Hermann Ethé, Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindûstânî and Pushtû Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. Part I: The Persian Manuscripts (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899) col. 969 no. 1609.
In the NLM copy it is stated in the introduction (fol. 4a, lines 1-6) that the poem consists of 4 sections (maqalahs): (1) on diseases, (2) on food and drink, (3) on simple medicaments, and (4) on compound remedies. The NLM copy is, however, incomplete. In the Oxford copy (fol. 295a, line 6) it states that the treatise consists of only two sections (maqalahs). Yet the Oxford copy has a section on simple medicaments in alphabetical order and another containing recipes for compound remedies. Consequently, it is apparent that the complete contents corresponds to that outlined in the NLM copy.
Jawahir al-maqal (MS P 25, item 2)
An opening from the Persian didactic poem by ‘Alī ibn shaykh Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Raḥmān, who may have lived in the late 17th century. The subjects under discussion are "the malady of the elephant" (da' al-fil, or elephantiasis) and varicosity (al-sifaq al-dawali). The copy is undated but must predate 1791, when an owner's stamp was added.
Persian. 78 leaves (fols. 2a-74b and 76b-80a). Dimensions c. 22 x 13.2 (text area 17.5 x 19.2) cm; frames for central text 11.8 x 6.9cm. 15 lines per page. The title is given on fol. 3b, line 2. The author's name is missing because the first leaf of the treatise is missing from the volume.
The copy is undated. The appearance of the paper, ink, and script suggests a date of the late 17th to early 18th century. It must have been completed before an owner's signature and stamp was placed in it in 1796/1211.
The copy is incomplete, lacking the opening folio. [The start of fol. 2a equals the text in Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Ouseley 125, fol. 293b, line 8.] In the NLM copy the third section (maqalah) on materia medica seems to be missing. In the midst of the fourth section (incorrectly labelled the third), half-way down fol. 74b, the text stops suddenly and then continues again on fol. 76b to the end of fol. 80a.
The metrical treatise is written in two columns on each folio, with an unrelated prose text (medicaments, in alphabetical order) written in the margins. The central text and the marginal text were executed by the same hand, in a medium-small careful, professional ta‘liq tending toward naskh script. The text area has been frame-ruled, and on fols. 2a-65b the text is written within small blue-purple frames, while the marginal text is written diagonally in a larger blue-purple frame. Beginning with fol. 66 the frames are omitted, though space is left for them. Black ink with headings in red and green.
There are later interlinear and marginal notes.
The thick, opaque, slightly-glossy yellow-brown paper has only indistinct laid lines occasionally visible. The paper is waterstained. Some leaves have been repaired and strengthened; fols. 2 and 3 are guarded. The edges have been trimmed from their original size.
The volume consists of 162 leaves and one preliminary folio. The preliminary folio and folio 1a are blank. The volume contains a collection of 8 metrical treatises on medical topics in addition to a fragment of an encyclopaedia. Item 1 (fol. 1b) is a fragment of an abridgement of an encyclopaedia by Jurjānī (MS P 25, item 1); item 2 (fols. 2a-80a) is the poem by ‘Alī ibn shaykh Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Raḥmān here catalogued; item 3 (fols. 80b-95a) a poem possibly based on a treatise by Jurjānī (MS P 25, item 3); item 4 (fols. 95a-98b) anon. poem on cure in a hour possibly based on a treatise by Rāzī (MS P 25, item 4); item 5 (fols. 99a-117a) versification of a treatise by Jaghmīnī (MS P 25, item 5); item 6 (fols. 117b-118a) anon. poem on leprosy (MS P 25, item 6); item 7 (fols. 118b-156b) anonymous Turkish poem with Persian commentary (MS P 25, item 7); item 8 (fols. 157b-160b) anon. poem on regimen and therapy (MS P 25, item 8); item 9 (fols. 161a-162a) anon. poem on materia medica (MS P 25, item 9). The marginal item (MS P 25, margin) occuring on fols. 2a-159a and 160a-162b is an anonymous prose treatise on materia medica and regimen. There are occasional unexplained blank central spaces on leaves where the marginal treatise continues around the edges of the folios. In two of these central blank spaces (fols. 75a and 76a) a much more recent and casual hand has placed two 16x16 magic squares. The order of the leaves comprising the volume may not be entirely correct.
At five places in the volume (fols. 75a, 76a, 95a, 98b, and 162b) a later hand in a good calligraphic script has repeated the same statement: "The owner and possessor of this medical book called Jawāhir al-maqāl is Khamrah Aghā ibn Rustum ibn Muḥammad Aghā ibn Khiḍr Aghā ibn Mīr Khamrah ibn Mīr Mīzā ibn Aḥmad Beg, in the year 1211 [= 1796-7]." An owner's stamp accompanies these statements. Sommer (Schullian/Sommer, Cat. of incun. & MSS., p. 338) interpreted this name as referring to the compiler of the collection, giving the name as Khamrah Aghā ibn Rustam Aghā ibn Muḥammad; the name, however, is clearly that of a later owner.
The volume was bought in 1941 by the Army Medical Library from A.S. Yahuda, who acquired it in Ebril in northern Iraq (ELS 1685 med 45).
Schullian/Sommer, p. 338 entry P25, where the name of an owner of the volume is misinterpreted as the compiler of the collection.
NLM Microfilm Reel: FILM 48-136 no. 5