One of the earliest textual witnesses for Ibn Sina's famous treatise: a complete 13th century manuscript, dated and signed by the scribe

Ibn Sina (Avicenna). Al-Adwiyya al-Qalbiyya [Book on drugs for cardiovascular diseases].

Central Asia, [1257 CE] = 655 H.

Arabic manuscript on paper. 57 pp., 20 lines per extensum, written space ca. 85 x 145 mm. Naskh in brown ink with section titles in red; Several marginal notes. Rebound in early brown Mamluk leather with gilt medallions and fillets to both covers; modern brown calf spine.


An exceedingly early manuscript of Avicenna's most important contribution to the field of cardiology, dated and signed by the scribe Ali ibn Muhammad on the 29th of Jumada al-Ula in the year 655 H, placing it among the very earliest witnesses for the received text. The date of the manuscript has been confirmed in a paper analysis performed by Helen Loveday, London (her full report, dated February 2020, is available on request).

Avicenna wrote his highly innovative treatise on cardiac medication in the years following the completion of his iconic "Qanun". This book is a separate and independent work which is medico-philosophical in character. Owing to its wide acceptance and importance, this treatise was translated into Latin twice, first in the early 14th century by Arnaldo de Villanova under the title "De Medicines Cordialibus". Two Hebrew translations are known; around 1485 Baruch ibn Ya'ish ibn Isaac composed a commentary of the first one.

The heart diseases here discussed include shortness of breath, palpitation, and cardiac syncope. Avicenna also observes that certain psychological conditions such as depression, stress, and anxiety may be linked to cardiovascular problems and need to be considered in their treatment: "Because the heart is the chief and noble organ, it is necessary that the physician should treat it after careful consideration and with a firm will. It is necessary that he has faith in the success of his course of treatment. The temperament of the patient is considered of fundamental importance in the treatment of heart diseases, and if there is any disharmony or imbalance of any kind, it should be treated." In the second chapter Avicenna introduces several categories of cardiac medication, including stimulants, diuretics, and cooling agents. No fewer than 83 simple and 17 compound drugs in the form of electuaries, crushed medications, pills, tonics and syrups derived from animal, vegetable, and mineral sources, their dosage, strength and application are discussed.

Of the six traceable manuscript copies of this treatise, only two are dated earlier (those in the Bibliotheque Nationale Paris and in the Forschungsbibliothek Gotha), placing the present volume among the three or four earliest surving manuscript witnesses, those in the British Library (Or. 5280), in Berlin (6359 Pm. 62), and in Leiden (Or. 958/820).

Removed from a severely damaged manuscript miscellany of natural scientific writings, of which the present part, complete in itself, was salvaged and rebound in period style for purposes of conservation. Professional repairs; all leaves remargined with occasional Japanese paper restoration, preserving the old collection’s pencil pagination, but very clean throughout, finely preserved without any loss to text.

Cf. GAL I, 458. GAL S I, 827. Chamsi-Pasha, Mohammed A R, and Hassan Chamsi-Pasha, “Avicenna's contribution to cardiology”, Avicenna Journal of Medicine 4,1 (2014), pp. 9-12. H. A. Hameed, "Avicenna’s Tract on Cardiac Drugs and Essays on Arab Cardiotherapy [Risalah Al-Adwiyah Al-Qalbiyah]" (Karachi, Hamdard National Foundation 1983). A. Zargaran, M. Zarshenas, A. Mehdizadeh, G. Kordafshari, A. Mohagheghzadeh, "Avicenna’s Concept of Cardiovascular Drug Targeting in Medicamenta Cordialia", in: Journal of Research on History of Medicine 2 (2013), 11-14.

Art.-Nr.: BN#51898 Schlagwörter: , ,