Theriac botanical imagery – challenge

Posted without translation of the Arabic labels (though if any reader would like to supply trans. and id’s. for me to publish later, that would be much appreciated).

Feb. 25th. – Dr. Muhammad Arshad has kindly offered details of the first six plants, and will provide more as time permits.

In the meantime, you might have fun testing your method for identifying Voynich plants on these pictures, to see what percentage you get right. 🙂

Compared to the Vms plants, these are a snap. They conform to western expectations, having come from Greek texts, and the plants are pictured with plenty of flowers, all coloured as in life, including those with parts or flowers coloured naturally in the pink-purple-black range. These roots are barely important, though they have been drawn to a convention, not to suit the whim of any scribe or painter.

Good luck.

folio 35 BNP MS arab
folio 35

Dr. Arshad wrote the following notes as a comment, but I’ve edited the post to include them here.

Many plants are still used by Hakeem(Traditional Herbalists) of south Asian region particularly Pakistan etc.
These arabic names are still used.
Folio 35 first plate left to right 1.زراوند (Aristolochia Plant), two types of Aristolochia are used A. Aristolochia longa(الزراوند الطويل)
B. Aristolochia rotunda(الزراوند المدحرج).
2. افیون (Opium extract of the plant of Papaver somniferum plant, the plant in picture is Opium Plant)
3.کندر ذکر (Kundar is a gum of Boswellia spp)
4.جند بیدستر ( Testis or Testile secretion of adult beaver, Castor canadensis and Castor fiber)
5.فلفل ابیض (Pipper nigrum Black pipper, Black and white peppercorns are both the fruit of the pepper plant, but they are processed differently. Black peppercorns are picked when almost ripe and sun-dried, turning the outer layer black. To produce white peppercorns, this outer layer is removed before or after drying, leaving only the inner seed.)
6.ورد (Red Rose ,Rosa damascena)

Muhammad Rizwan Arshad.

fol 56 compos
fol 56
fol 57 plants
fol 57
fol 58
fol 58
fol 60
fol 60
folio 61
folio 61
folio 62
folio 62
fol 63
fol 63 [note figure in upper register, at centre]
folio 64
fol 64
fol 65
fol 65
fol 66
fol 66

Original manuscript (12thC) Kitab al-Diryaq, or ‘Book of Antidotes’ or ‘Traité de la thériaque’, Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris, MS Arab. 2964  (see here)

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5 Replies to “Theriac botanical imagery – challenge”

  1. As a starter – there’s a pdf online which includes a table of the plants commonly used in versions of theriac.
    Stata Norton, ‘The Pharmacology of Mithridatum: A 2000-Year-Old Remedy’.

    Bibliotheque National de France (Gallica) includes somewhere a linked list to plants pictured in medieval manuscripts. I say ‘somewhere’ because having seen it yesterday, I cannot seem to find it again today. BNF is like that. 🙂

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  2. The hand made pictures of above plants, mentioned with Arabic Names.
    Many plants are still used by Hakeem(Traditional Herbalists) of south Asian region particularly Pakistan etc.
    These arabic names are still used.
    Folio 35 first plate left to right 1.زراوند (Aristolochia Plant), two types of Aristolochia are used A. Aristolochia longa(الزراوند الطويل)
    B. Aristolochia rotunda(الزراوند المدحرج).
    2. افیون (Opium extract of the plant of Papaver somniferum plant, the plant in picture is Opium Plant)
    3.کندر ذکر (Kundar is a gum of Boswellia spp)
    4.جند بیدستر ( Testis or Testile secretion of adult beaver, Castor canadensis and Castor fiber)
    5.فلفل ابیض (Pipper nigrum Black pipper, Black and white peppercorns are both the fruit of the pepper plant, but they are processed differently. Black peppercorns are picked when almost ripe and sun-dried, turning the outer layer black. To produce white peppercorns, this outer layer is removed before or after drying, leaving only the inner seed.)
    6.ورد (Red Rose ,Rosa damascena)
    Other plants names I shall tell you later I am busy now.
    Muhammad Rizwan Arshad.
    https://www.facebook.com/RizwanClinic

    Like

  3. On Theriac ingredients as a ‘rosetta stone’ – we may include Asian languages here. The following is from,
    T. H. Barrett, ‘Buddhism, Taoism and the Eighth-Century Chinese Term for Christianity: A Response to Recent Work by A. Forte and Others’, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 65, No. 3 (2002), pp. 555-560.
    ~~~~

    “The Byzantines, for their part, were including in their ambassadorial gifts as early as 667 the remarkable cure-all known as far back as the time of Pliny under the name of theriac. Indeed, Yang Xianyi has shown from a citation in a medical work preserved in Korea that rumours of the existence of this miracle substance had already reached China by the early seventh century. Early Tang rulers-if not all Tang rulers-were always looking for exotic substances which might cause them to live for ever, and bothering travellers to procure them. But theriac in particular seems to have made a considerable impression, for it passed into the traditional Chinese pharmacopoeia, and is therefore duly listed in the standard Bencao gangmu of Li Shizhen (1518-93 AD).

    p.560

    ~~~~

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