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Catalogue: Medical Poetry

Blue arrow pointing to the right al-Manzūmah fī al-ibb   (MS A 85, item 1)
(The Poem on Medicine)
المنظومة في الطب
by Lisān al-Dīn Ibn al-Khaīb (d. 1374/776)
ليسان الدين ابو عبد الله محمد ابن الخطيب الاندلسي

The well-known vizier of Granada, Ibn al-Khaīb, also known as Lisān al-Dīn, wrote a number of medical treatises in addition to his famous history of Granada. His didactic poem on medicine is preserved in a manuscript at NLM as well as in one now in Leiden. He is known to have also written other didactic poems, including one titled Raqm al-hulal fi nazm al-duwal concerned with the dynasties of the western Islamic provinces, especially Spain; see Safa' Khulusi, "Didactic verse" in Religion, Learning and Science in the ‘Abbasid Period, eds. M.J.L. Young, J.D. Latham and R.B. Serjeant (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 503.

The poem is written in rajaz meter and concerns diseases and disorders occurring in different parts of the body and their treatment. It begins with headaches and proceeds downward.

The only other recorded copy of this medical poem is now in Leiden, Universiteitsbibliotheek MS 331 II Warn. See Ullmann, Medizin, p. 179, and Corpus medicorum arabico-hispanorum, compiled by Carmen Peña, Amador Diaz, Camilo Alvarez de Morales, Fernando Girón, Rosa Kuhne, Concepción Vázques, and Ana Labarta, Awraq, 1981, volume 4, pp.79-111, esp. pp. 103-4 no. 43.

No modern translation or edition has been published.

al-Manzūmah fī al-ibb   (MS A 85, item 1)


Folio 1b from Ibn al-Khaṭīb's al-Manz ūmah fī al-ṭibb   (The Poem on Medicine).
The light-beige paper has a nearly matte finish. The text area has been frame-ruled. Black ink with headings and marginal headings in red and blue-green. The text is written within frames of red and green lines.
MS A 85, fol. 1b

The opening of a Arabic didactic poem on general medical care written by Ibn al-Khaīb, an important vizier and scholar in Granada in the middle of the 14th century. The copy is undated, possibly of the early 19th-century.

Physical Description

Arabic. 28 leaves (fols. 1a-28a). Dimensions 30.4 x 19.3 (text area 22.5 x 13.2) cm; 31 lines per page. The author's name is given as the physician (al-mutatabbib) Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muammad ibn al-Khaīb al-Andalusī (fol. 1b lines 2-3). On the title page (fol. 1a) it is given simply as Ibn al-Khaīb.

The copy is undated and unsigned. The appearance of the paper, script, and ink suggests a date of the early 19th century.

A complete copy. The entire voume is written in a very fine North African (Maghribi) script, by the same unnamed copyist. The text area has been frame-ruled. Black ink with headings and marginal headings in red and blue-green. The text is written within frames of red and green lines. There are catchwords. Some folios are numbered in penciled Western numerals (some incorrect); the volume has been recently refoliated.

There are some marginalia.

The light-beige paper has a nearly matte finish, with neither laid lines nor chain lines visible.

The volume consists of 79 leaves; fols. 28b, 29a, 52a, and 73a are blank. The second item in the volume (fols. 29b-51b) is an anonymous poem of foodstuffs as medicine (MS A 85, item 2); the third item (fols. 52b-72b) is a unique copy of a medical poem by the well-known 13th-century astronomer al-Marrākushī (MS A 85, item 3). The fourth item (fols. 73b-78b) is an anonymous poem on fruits (MS A 85, item 4), and the final item (fol. 79a) consists of three miscellaneous medical poems (MS A 85, item 5). On fol. 79b there is a recipe written by the same copyist as executed the entire manuscript.


The volume is bound in an Islamic binding. The covers and envelope flap are pasteboards covered with maroon leather. The front and back covers and envelope flap have blind, block-stamped medallions and blind tooled frames. The doublure of the envelope flap is paper printed with brown, yellow and black inked designs. There are modern blank paper pastedowns and endpapers.


The volume was purchased in 1941 by the Army Medical Library presumably from A. S. Yahuda; no further information in available on its provenance.


Schullian/Sommer, Cat. of incun. & MSS., entry A85 item 1, p. 326

NLM Microfilm Reel: FILM 48-129-2

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