Influential Arabic handbook for medical students

Ibn al-Nafis al-Qarashi, Ala'addin Abu 'l Hasan Ali / Ibn Sina (Avicenna). Kitab al-Mujaz fi al-Tibb [A Summary of Medicine].

Central Asia, ca. 1780 / 18th century CE.

Large 8vo (168 x 272 mm). 202 ff. Black script with important words and phrases picked out in red. With an anatomical diagram of the eyes, skull, and brain. 18th century leather stamped with medallions and ruled in silver, rebacked in modern leather with modern spine.


Featuring an uncommon medical diagram, this popular and influential medieval Arabic handbook for medical students was composed by the great Damascus anatomist Ibn al-Nafis (1210-88); an illustration on the lower half of one leaf, executed in red and black ink, shows anatomical details of the head and eyes, including different layers of the skull and parts of the brain, as well as the anatomy of the human eye and ear. The ears are shown to be connected to the brain, and the eyes likewise, with the optic nerves clearly displayed in roughly their correct placement, including the intersection point.

The text was long considered a commentary on Avicenna. However is now viewed by scholarship as an original work which also discusses Avicenna's ideas, and thus as "an independent book meant to be a handbook for medical students and practitioners, not as an epitome of Kitab Al-Qanun of Ibn Sina as thought by recent historians" (Abdel-Halim, 2008). One of the author's most widely received works, it provides a useful sum of medical knowledge to aspiring physicians of the medieval and early modern periods alike. It was still being copied centuries on from the death of Ibn al-Nafis, who is famous for first describing the pulmonary blood circulation, thereby anticipating by many centuries the efforts of William Harvey.


Covers rebacked, some soiling, dampstaining, and paper repairs; otherwise in good condition.


GAL I, 493, 37, 2 & I, 457 (s. v. Ibn Sina). Rabie E. Abdel-Halim, "Contributions of Ibn Al-Nafis (1210-1288 AD) to the Progress of Medicine and Urology. A Study and Translations From his Medical Works", in: Saudi Medical Journal 29.1 (2008), pp. 13-22.

Stock Code: BN#62446 Tags: , ,