Safavid Era Medical Treatise with 5 Anatomical Illustrations
Item Number: 14735
Mohammad Salleh Safavid Medical Treatise
A Persian medical treatise written by Safavid physician Mohammad Saleh dating from 1601/2 CE (1011AH) 6.75" x 4" on paper, 136 pp each with 12ll. of cursory nasta'liq script, some words picked out in red, including 5 anatomical illustrations of the body. Colophon on last page in Arabic. With a Safavid paisley fabric and leather trimmed cover, one cover is absent. Text block is detached but complete.
This is a fascinating medical treatise dating from the Safavid period which describes in great detail the functioning of the body, its organs and systems as they were understood by physicians at the time. It includes 5 anatomical illustrations depicting a diagram of the human skeleton with corresponding labels for the various bones, the human nervous system and its relation to the muscles, the digestive system which shows the stomach, the left and right kidney, the intestines, the heart, and the liver-all with corresponding names, the final two illustrations relate to the heart and the depict all the blood vessels in relation to it. All the illustrations are intricately drawn and detailed.
Beginning the manuscript the author writes in praise of God, king and creator, " who created human beings in details from his infinite wisdom…has strengthened an otherwise weak body and has endowed this body with an order. This order is implemented through the brain." He goes on throughout the manuscript to describe that the body is made up of 4 elements and states that blood is one of the essential necessities of every animal to become mobile or living. It is understood by the author and physician, that blood is the source of the sensations and the function of the brain. He regards the heart as having "the highest rank amongst all the organs" and represents the place for the animal spirit. The author identifies the extremities as the part of the body which is weakest stating " that part which is the furthest from the brain is the weakest." In mentioning how the digestive systems works and the function of the kidneys, the author describes how the kidneys filter the blood making it suitable for the heart. He states, "what enters the kidney is very thick and what goes out of the kidney is very pure." The author makes explicit reference to the famous Greek physician of antiquity, Galen, who was the first to describe the body as divided into 4 humors. Humoralism (?ebb-e j?linusi/?ebb-e yun?ni), or Galenism as it was sometimes called was a medical philosophy that considers illness as an imbalance in the body's four elemental humors (?a-h?r ?el?). These are identified as blood (?un, dam), phlegm (bal?am), yellow bile (?afr?), and black bile (sawd?). Each of these humors was believed to possess two natures: hot (garm) or cold (sard) and dry (?ošk) or moist (tar). Blood was considered to be hot and moist. Humoralism was a prevailing medical understanding of the body and underwent very little conceptual change since Avicenna s time. In his encyclopedic ?a?ira-ye ???razmš?hi, Sayyed Esm??il Jorj?ni (1042-1136) expands Avicenna's humoral precepts covering the temperamental qualities of every organ, their clinical manifestations, and their pathological predispositions by dividing them into physiological categories (hot, cold, dry, humid). Each category has its distinctive trait and each in turn would be predisposed to distinct diseases. The humoral concept put forth by Avicenna lasted well into the Qajar period and dominated the practice of orthodox medicine in Persia until the latter half of the 19th century (Tholozan, pp. 36-37). Furthermore, our author references Avicenna and his understanding of the muscles, and muscle spasms in the human body. With some age related toning. Text block is complete. Overall a rare and remarkable medical treatise with over 300 years of antiquity.