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Walters Ms. W.675, Single leaf from the Arabic version of Dioscorides' De materia medica

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Single leaf from the Arabic version of Dioscorides' De materia medica

Text title
De materia medica


Authority name: Dioscorides Pedanius, of Anazarbos


This is a single leaf from a dispersed manuscript (Aya Sofya 3703, later Top Kapi Seray 2147) of the Arabic version of De materia medica by Dioscorides (fl. ca. 65 CE) that was copied in 621 AH / 1224 CE in Baghdad. Approximately thirty illustrations were removed from this parent manuscript that are now in public and private collections. The Walters' leaf depicts two doctors preparing medicine. A funnel is set on a tripod over a vessel. The two men preparing the medicinal draught stand on either side of the tripod beside two fruit trees. The text is written in partially vocalized naskh script in brownish-black and red ink.


[Rajab 621 AH / 1224 CE]




As-written name: ʿAbd Allāh ibn Faḍl

Name, in vernacular: عبد الله بن فضل




Scientific -- Medical


The primary language in this manuscript is Arabic.

Support material


Thick laid paper


Foliation: Not applicable


24.9 cm wide by 33.5 cm high

Written surface

17.0 cm wide by 24.0 cm high

  1. Columns: 1
  2. Ruled lines: 13

fols. W.675a - W.675b:
  1. Title: De materia medica
  2. Author: Dioscorides Pedanius, of Anazarbos
  3. Scribe: ʿAbd Allāh ibn Faḍl
  4. Hand note: Written in partially vocalized naskh script in brownish-black and red ink
  5. Decoration note: One illustration


fol. W.675a:

  1. W.675, fol. W.675a
  2. Title: Two doctors preparing medicine
  3. Form: Illustration
  4. Label: This illustration depicts two doctors preparing medicine. The text is written in partially vocalized naskh script in brownish-black and red ink.

fol. W.675b:

  1. W.675, fol. W.675b
  2. Title: Text page
  3. Form: Text page


Copied in Baghdad in 621 AH / 1224 CE

Library of Aya Sofya, Istanbul, no. 3703

Removed from manuscript no. 3703, likely late 19th-early 20th century

Acquired by Fredrik Robert Martin (1868-1933), Stockholm, before 1912

Acquired by Max Williams (1865-1927), New York

Acquired by Dikran Kelekian (1868-1951), New York, ca. 1928


Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters bequest


Anet, Claude. "Exhibition of Persian Miniatures at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris I." Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 22, no. 115 (1912), fig. a.

Dimand, M. S. "Dated Specimens of Mohammedan Art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art Part II." Metropolitan Museum Studies 1, no. 2 (1929): 208-232.

Exhibition of Islamic Art at the de Young Museum, February 24 to March 22, 1937. Exhibition catalog. (San Francisco: de Young Museum, 1937), 26; nos. 19-22; fig. 19.

Buchthal, Hugo, Otto Kurz, and Richard Ettinghausen. "Supplementary Notes to K. Holter's Checklist of Islamic Illuminated Manuscripts before A.D. 1350." Ars Islamica 7, no. 2 (1940): 147-164.

Buchthal, Hugo. "Early Islamic Miniatures from Baghdad." Journal of the Walters Art Gallery 5 (1942): 21, fig. 1; 24.

Day, Florence E. "The Mesopotamian Manuscripts of Dioscorides." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, New Series 8, no. 9 (1950): 274-280.

Grube, E. J. "Materialien zum Dioskurides Arabicus." In Aus der Welt der islamischen Kunst. Festschrift für Ernst Kühnel zum 75. Geburtstag am 26. 10. 1957. Richard Ettinghausen, ed. (Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 1959), 176.

Grube, Ernst J. and Maria Alberta Fabris. Muslim Miniature Paintings from the XIII to XIX Century from Collections in the United States and Canada: Catalogue of the Exhibition. (Venezia: N. Pozza, 1962), 2-4.

Atil, Esin. Art of the Arab World. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1975.

Touwaide, Alain. Farmacopea araba medievale: codice Ayasofia 3703. 4 vols. Milan: Antea Edizioni, 1992-93, 4:58, fig. 26.

Rogers, Michael J. "Text and Illustrations: Dioscorides and the Illustrated Herbal in the Arab Tradition." In Arab Painting: Text and Image in Illustrated Arabic Manuscripts. Handbook of Oriental Studies. Anna Contadini, ed. (Boson: Brill, 2007), 41-47.

Carey, Moya. "Al-Sufi and Son: Ibn al-Sufi's Poem on the Stars and its Prose Parent." Muqarnas 26 (2009): 183-204.


Principal cataloger: Gacek, Adam

Catalogers: Landau, Amy; Smith, Sita

Copy editor: Bockrath, Diane

Conservators: Jewell, Stephanie; Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Barrera, Christina; Emery, Doug; Herbert, Lynley; Mednyanszky, Orsolya; Noel, William; Simpson, Shreve; Tabritha, Ariel; Toth, Michael B.; Valle, Chiara


The Walters Art Museum


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.