Influential translation of al-Zahrawi's surgery

Abulcasis (Albucasis, Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi). La chirurgie. Traduite par le Dr Lucien Leclerc.

Paris, J.-B. Baillière, 1861.

8vo (140 x 222 mm). (10), XIV, (5)-342 pp. With 3 folding lithographed plates. Contemporary half calf over marbled covers with florally gilt spine. Marbled endpapers.


First and only edition of this important French translation of the surgical section of the author's "Al-Tasrif", "the first rational, complete and illustrated treatise on surgery and surgical instruments" (Garrison/M.). Abu-l-Qasim Khalaf al-Zahrawi, a 10th-century physician from Cordoba, was the author of a voluminous medico-surgical encyclopedia gathered in a set of thirty treatises under the title of "Kitab at-tasrif liman agiza 'an it-ta'alif", but his fame rests on the section on surgery, which forms the 30th and final treatise in the book. "During the Middle Ages it was the leading textbook on surgery until superseded by Saliceto" (ibid.). The illustrations of the instruments, numbering between 150 and 200 in the various the manuscripts, contributed to the success of the work.

Al-Zahrawi designed several devices used during surgery, for purposes such as inspection of the interior of the urethra, applying and removing foreign bodies from the throat, inspection of the ear, etc. He described how to ligature blood vessels almost 600 years before Ambroise Paré and was also the first to describe a surgical procedure for ligating the temporal artery for migraine, also almost 600 years before Pare recorded that he had ligated his own temporal artery for headache that conforms to current descriptions of migraine. His use of catgut for internal stitching is still practised in modern surgery.

Leclerc based his version on the Oxford edition of the text, improved by comparison with the Paris manuscript. "The French translation by Lucien Leclerc, with a useful introduction, was very influential in making al-Zahrawi's surgery better known to modern historians of science" (DSB).

Spine a little rubbed, occasional browning, but still an appealing copy.

Campbell, Arabian Medicine 90. GAL I, 239 (276), 24, no. 1. DSB XIV, 585. M. H. Fikri, Treasures from the Arab Scientific Legacy in Europe, p. 25. OCLC 876228425. Cf. Garrison/M. 5550.

Stock Code: BN#60793 Tags: ,