Firdaws al-ḥikmah فردوس الحكمة Ṭabarī, ʿAlī ibn Sahl Rabban طبري، علي بن سهل ربن

Arundel Or 41

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The record is made up of Codex A collection of pages, usually gathered into quires, and bound between covers. ; ff. ii+276+ii. It was created in 13th century. It was written in Arabic. The original is part of the British Library: Oriental Manuscripts.

About this record


Encyclopedia of medicine by the Persian physician ʿAlī ibn Sahl ibn Rabban al-Ṭabarī (810- c 855). This undated copy was produced by a maghribī scribe, probably in the late 13th century as suggested by Hebrew and Arabic ownership inscriptions (f. 2r) dateable to early fourteenth-century Georgia (see Custodial History).

The text is divided into seven books (أنواع), each subdivided into chapters (مقالات) and further into sections (أبواب). This copy is defective at the end and is missing the end of Book Seven.

Folio 8r contains a short poem 'in praise of this book' (بمدح هذا الكتاب) composed by ‘Abd al-Wāḥid al-Arīḥāwī (عبد الواحد الأريحاوي), one of the book's owners, whose inscription can be found on f. 2r.


Begins (table of contents, f. 2v, lines 2-4):

هذا فهرست أبواب كناش علي بن ربن المسمى فردوس الحكمة

قال الكناش كله على ستعة أنواع من العلم ولهذه الأنواع ثلثون مقالة ولمقالاتها

كلها ثلث مائة وستون بابًا ...

The rest of the table of contents (ff. 2v-7v) can be found transcribed in Cureton and Rieu, Catalogus codicum manuscriptorum orientalium qui in Museo Britannico asservantur (London: The British Museum, 1846-71), pp. 218-20

Beginning of text proper (f. 8v, lines 3-5)

هذا كتاب جامع علي بن ربن ابتدأ حامدا لله فقال إن مدح الخير والجود وتفضيل

أهلهما أمر تجتمع عليه الأمم كلها ومن إرتاد منافع الناس فهو خير ومن

جاد بما عنده فهو جواد ...

Ends (f. 276, lines 19-21):

... وتسحق على الصلابة وتسحق المسك على حدة سحقًا جيدًا وتجمع وتعجر بدهن بان

جيد وتستعمل و إن جعلته فيه شيئًا من مسك مسجوق منخول بحريرة كان أفضل مسوج

للرجال طيب خذ قطعة صندل أحمر غليظ قرر شبرا وأكبر وأثقب فيه أربع ثقب

Extent and format
Codex A collection of pages, usually gathered into quires, and bound between covers. ; ff. ii+276+ii
Physical characteristics

Material: Paper

Dimensions: 240 x 170 mm leaf [185 x 125 mm written]

Foliation: British Museum foliation in pencil

Ruling: Misṭarah ; 21 lines per page; vertical spacing 12 lines per 10 cm

Script: Maghribī

Ink: Black ink, with headings and diagrams in red

Binding: Morocco leather Ottoman (?) period binding with envelope flap; blind-tooled borders of three fillets and medallions encasing floral pattern on both boards; flap has blind-tooled border of two fillets and medallion encasing geometrical pattern

Condition: Minor water damage

Marginalia: Few throughout, with the exception of ff. 58r-61v, which are heavily annotated

Seals: None

Written in
Arabic in Arabic script

Archive information for this record

Access & Reference

Original held at
British Library: Oriental Manuscripts
Access conditions


Archive reference
Arundel Or 41

History of this record

13th century (CE, Gregorian)
Context of creation

North Africa?

  • Rabbi Yosef al-Tiflīsī (late 13th- early 14th century), son of the Exilarch (יוסף ב[?]ראש עלגאלות, يوسف بن رأس الجالوت), head of the Jewish community of Gagra on the Black Sea coast of western Georgia and father of Rabbi Isaiah of Tabriz (fl. first half of 14th century), son of Rabbi Yosef al-Tiflīsī, and author of several cabbalistic treatises, his inscriptions in Hebrew and Arabic undated (f. 2r, upper right vertically, and centre);
  • Emmanuel (in the Hebrew) or ‘Imād al-Dīn (in the Arabic) the Dayān (early 14th century), son of Rabbi Yosef al-Tiflīsī (עמנואל בר הרב רבנו יוסף אל[-]בליסי,عماد الدين الديان الإسريلي ابن ربي يوسف التفليسي), his inscriptions in Hebrew and Arabic undated (f. 2r, lower centre and left);
  • ‘Abd al-Wāḥid ibn ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Muḥammad ibn ‘Uthmān ibn Muḥammad ibn ‘Alī ibn Sulaymān ibn ‘Abd al-Wāḥid al-Arīḥāwī al-Shafi‘ī al-Jasharī (?) (عبد الواحد بن عبد الرحمن بن محمد بن عثمان بن محمد بن علي بن سليمان بن عبد الواحد [الأ]ريحاوي الشافعي الجشري [؟]), author of the poem on f. 8r, his inscription undated (f. 2r, centre right);
  • Deed of sale dated Shawwāl 1003/June-July 1595 with name ‘Abd al-Wāḥid (عبد الواحد), perhaps the same whose inscription is found on f. 2r and whose poem is found on f. 8r (f. 1r);
  • ? Thomas Howard (b. 1585, d. 1646), 2nd earl of Arundel, 4th earl of Surrey, and 1st earl of Norfolk, art collector and politician;
  • Henry Howard (b. 1628, d. 1684), 6th duke of Norfolk, presented to the Royal Society in 1667;
  • The Royal Society, London: its ink stamp 'Soc. Reg. Lond / ex dono HENR. HOWARD / Norfolciensis.' (f. 1r)
Immediate source of acquisition

Purchased by the British Museum from the Royal Society together with 549 other Arundel manuscripts in 1831.

Related material

Finding aids
  • Cureton, William and Charles Rieu, Catalogus codicum manuscriptorum orientalium qui in Museo Britannico asservantur. Pars secunda, codices arabicos amplectens (London: The British Museum, 1846-71), Item 445, pp. 217-21
  • Hamarneh, Sami, Catalogue of Arabic Manuscripts on Medicine and Pharmacy at the British Library (Cairo: Les Editions Universitaires d’Egypte, 1975), Item 42, pp. 32-34
Select Bibliography


  • Ṭabarī, Ali ibn Sahl Rabban, Firdaus al-Ḥikma f ī al-Ṭibb , ed. by Muḥammad Zubayr Siddiqi, (Berlin-Charlottenburg: Buch- und Kunstdruckerei 'Sonne', 1928) [Reprint: Publications of the Institute for the History of Arabic-Islamic Medicine, vol. 29, ed. by Fuat Sezgin (Frankfurt am Main : Institute for the History of Arabic-Islamic Science at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, 1996)]
  • Ṭabarī, ʿAlī ibn Sahl Rabban, Firdaws al-ḥikmah fī al-ṭibb , ed. by ʿAbd al-Karīm Sāmī al-Jundī (Bayrūt: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmīyah, 2002)


  • Ullmann, Manfred, Die Medizin im Islam (Leiden: Brill, 1970), pp. 119-22

Family of Rabbi Yosef al-Tiflīsī:

  • Ben-Oren, Gershon, 'The History of the Jews in Georgia Until the Communist Regime', in In the Land of the Golden Fleece: The Jews of Georgia - History and Culture , ed. by Rachel Arbel and Lily Magal, (Tel Aviv: Beth Hatefutsoth and Ministry of Defence Publishing House, 1989) pp. 37-70, on p. 45
  • Fischel, Walter, ‘Azarbaijan in Jewish History’, Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research 22, 1953, pp. 1-21, on p. 9
  • Marx, Alexander, ‘Hebrew MSS. in Vienna’, The Jewish Quarterly Review (new series) 16.3, 1926, pp. 337-342, on pp. 340-41
  • Scholem, Gershom, Kitve-yad be-Ḳabalah ha-nimtsaʾim be-Vet ha-sefarim ha- leʾumi ṿeha-universiṭaʾi bi-Yerushala[y]im , (Yerushala[y]im: Ḥevrah le-hotsaʾat sefarim ʿal-yad ha- Universiṭah ha-ʿIvrit, 1930) pp. 41-42
  • Encyclopaedia Judaica (2nd ed.), vol. 7, ed. by C. Roth et al., (Jerusalem: Keter, 1971) s.v. Georgia, on p. 497

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Firdaws al-ḥikmah فردوس الحكمة Ṭabarī, ʿAlī ibn Sahl Rabban طبري، علي بن سهل ربن, British Library: Oriental Manuscripts, Arundel Or 41, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 23 July 2024]

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