Project: Shirwānī's Manuscript "Rawḍat al-'iṭr"

Project Outline

Shirwānī's Manuscript "Rawḍat al-'iṭr", An Early Ottoman Pharmaceutical Encyclopedia

Muhammed Ibn Mahmud Shirwānī (d. between 841/1438 and 1451) was an important early Ottoman physician in the service of several rulers, including the Germiyanoğlu Yakup Bey of Kütahya, and the Ottoman sultans Mehmed I and Murad II; he was also a prolific author of Arabic and Ottoman Turkish medical works. There is almost no information regarding his life. Of Shirwānī's Arabic works, the "Rawḍat al-ʿiṭr" ("Garden of Pharmacy/Perfumes"), housed at the Süleymaniye Library in Istanbul, a substantial volume of 239 folios, is the most comprehensive. It is also the most scholarly of his works, employing a careful citation system of the classical authorities, such as Avicenna and Ismail al-Jurjānī. Shirwānī's "Rawḍat al-'iṭr" provides rich knowledge about fifteenth-century pharmaceutical practice in the Ottoman realm, including the preparation of recipes for drugs and medical procedures. In fact, this manuscript could be considered an encyclopedia of Ottoman pharmaceutical sciences, shedding much light on the use of simple drugs in Ottoman pharmaceutical recipes. For instance, Shirwānī explains in great detail the properties of simple medications, as well as their use in compounded drugs, in addition to any additional names for these pharmaceutical substances in the Ottoman language. The study of this unique manuscript will contribute to an improved understanding of the history of Ottoman medicine; and will hopefully also arouse a deeper interest in the history and linguistics of Arabic scientific terminology and its influence on Ottoman medicine as only a few Arabic medical texts from the Ottoman milieu have been studied or edited. This study will also shed light on the transmission and development of medical and pharmacological knowledge in the early Ottoman period. This project aims at providing a more accurate understanding of Shirwānī and his medical milieu, in addition to preparing a bilingual edition (Arabic/English) of this unique manuscript of his Arabic work "Rawḍat al-'iṭr". This project is sponsored by the Philipp Schwartz Initiative. The Philipp Schwartz Initiative was launched by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation together with the German Federal Foreign Office. It enables universities, universities of applied science, and independent research institutions to grant threatened researchers fellowships for research stays in Germany. The initiative has been made possible through generous support from the Federal Foreign Office, the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation, the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the Gerda Henkel Foundation, the Klaus Tschira Foundation, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the Stiftung Mercator.