An Arabic translation of Paracelsus

Ibn Sallum, Salih ibn Nasrallah al-Halabi. Al-tibb al-jadid al-kimiya'i alladhi ikhtara'ahu Barakalsus [The New Chemical Medicine Invented by Paracelsus].

Ottoman Provinces, 1 Dec. 1732 CE [= 13 Jumada II 1145 H].

8vo (165 x 236 mm). 84 ff. Arabic manuscript on paper. Black naskh script with important words and phrases picked out in red. 20th century three-quarter red morocco and textured cloth.


A fascinating Arabic alchemical manuscript, forming a compendium of alchemical works from early modern Europe. Ibn Sallum (d. 1671) was a noted physician in Aleppo and subsequently served as chief physician in Istanbul, where he rose to become a physician of Sultan Mehmet IV (1648-87). In an interesting cultural exchange, ibn Sallum's sources are largely Latin texts, themselves part of a European alchemical tradition with its roots solidly in the earlier alchemical writings of the Muslim world.

The present work is on iatrochemistry, an early attempt to use alchemy to understand and treat the physical processes of the human body. It consists of translations of Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, known as Paracelsus (1493-1541), an alchemist, physician, and medical reformer. The introduction, an overview of the history of alchemy, describes the invention of alchemy by "Hermes Trismegistus the Egyptian" (a legendary "thrice-great Hermes" to whom a large corpus of writing was attributed) and the subsequent transfer of alchemical knowledge to the Hellenistic and Islamic worlds. Ibn Sallum's work discusses Paracelsus and his transformation of alchemy into a field of medicine, with a dual focus on the perfection and purification of metals and on preserving the health of the human body. Further sections discuss alchemical secrets, the principles of alchemical medicine, and chemical procedures involving metals and the distillation of water.

An interesting mixture of the entwined Arabic and Latin alchemical traditions. The colophon states that the manuscript was copied on Wednesday, the 13th of Jumada al-Akhir, 1145, by Yusuf Jawad.


Minor smudging and soiling, a few notes in later ink; later pagination in blue ballpoint. In good condition.


GAL II, 447, no. 2