"Preparing Medicine from Honey", Folio from a Dispersed Manuscript of an Arabic Translation of the Materia Medica of Dioscorides

'Abdullah ibn al-Fadl

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
12 3/8 x 9in. (31.4 x 22.9cm) Mat: 19 1/4 x 14 1/4 in. (48.9 x 36.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Cora Timken Burnett, 1956
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Baghdad continued to produce manuscripts even after the 1258 Mongol invasion. The "Baghdad School" of illustration employed bold colors and symmetrical compositions, depicting the details of urban life and figures in contemporary local dress. This folio depicts a pharmacist preparing a honey‑based medicine in a caldron, while an assistant upstairs distributes it into jars.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: In Arabic language and in Naskhī script:
    لا یشتهي الطعام او من کانت قوته تحلل و صفته علی هذه الصفة/ (و من ماء العیون جزء) یؤخذ من العسل جزء فیخلطونه بالعسل و یطبخونه علی الصفة الی ان یذهب/ الثلثین ثم یرفعونه هـ هـ هـ و قد یتخذ شراب/ یقال له ابو مالي علی هذه الصفة یؤخذ من شمع الشهد فیغسل/ بالماء و یؤخذ ذلک الماء و یرفع و ینبغي اذا شرب هذا الشراب ان/ یصرف و من الناس من یطبخه و هو غیر موافق للمرض لکثرة ما فیه من وسخ الشمع
    … Do not appetite the food or the one which his power being weak, his description is as follow: take part of honey (on the margin added “ and take part of eyes water”) and mixed with honey and cook on pot till that two third of it gone than take it from pot.
    And may [someone] make wine called Abū Mālī with this description: take the wax of honey and washed with water and that water took out and if this wine drink it must … and some of people cooked it but it not good for the disease for a lot of dirty of wax.


  • Provenance

    F. R. Martin, Stockholm (in 1910); V. Everit Macy, New York; Cora Timken Burnett, Alpine, NJ (until d. 1956; bequeathed to MMA)

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History