"Physician Preparing an Elixir", Folio from a Materia Medica of Dioscorides

Object Name:
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
dated A.H. 621/ A.D. 1224
Iraq or Northern Jazira, possibly Baghdad
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Page: H. 13 1/16 in. (33.2 cm) W. 9 3/4 in. (24.8 cm) Mat size: H. 19 1/4 in. (48.9 cm) W. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm) Frame: 16 3/4 x 21 5/8 in.
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1913
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Figural book painting started in the Islamic world as an art form in the late Abbasid Iraq of the 13th century. The translation of a Greek manuscript shows a Physian preparing an elixir.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Definition: Arabic. There are two translations:

    Translation of text by R. D. Messaiah: Preparation of medicine (wine) for colds or coughs: ease the throat by taking 1/4 oke of bitter root, 1/8 oke of licorice root, 1/4 or 1/8 oke of white pepper. Pulverize them together and put the resulting powder into a cloth, tie it up, and immerse it in sweet wine for three days. Strain the liquor into a clean vessel. Drink after dinner.
    Notes: 1 oke, a measure of weight equaling about 2-3/4 lbs., measure of capacity, equals about 2/3 of a quart.

    Translation of text by F. D. Day, 1950: The making of a drink (shirab) for catarrhs, coughs, swelling of the belly, and loosening of the stomach. Take myrrh 1/4 uqiyya, roots of susan 1/8 uqiyya, white pepper 1/4 and (...) 1/8 uqiyya. Pound them together, tie it up in a rag, put into 3 qusts of good wine, and let stand three days. Then strain and put into a clean vessel. Drink after supper.

    Marking: See additional card.

  • Provenance

    F. R. Martin, Stockholm (in 1910); G.J. Demotte, Paris, until 1913; sold to MMA]

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History