Name of Object:

Manuscript from the medical treatise Kitab al-tasrîf liman ajaza an al-talîf fi al-tibb by Abu al-Qasim Khalaf ibn ‘Abbas al-Andalusi al-Zahrawi


Rabat, Morocco

Holding Museum:

General Library

About General Library, Rabat.

Date of Object:

Hegira 610–9 / AD 1213–23

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Paper, brown ink, yellow and red paint.


Height 26.5 cm, length 18.5 cm

Period / Dynasty



Spain (al-Andalus).


This manuscript is the transcription of one of the 30 volumes of the encyclopaedia al-Tasrif, written by Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi, known in the West as Abulcasis, who lived from AH 320 to 401 (AD 936–1016) during the Caliphate period in Córdoba. Considered the most famous doctor and surgeon of his time, he compiled the results of his medical operations in the encyclopaedia. He described and drew nearly two hundred tools that he used, many of which he invented and made himself. This important work was a basic reference book for students in north African universities. As printing did not yet exist, it was copied, like all scientific works, by professional calligraphers who were in fact the painters of their time. This specimen, whose copyist is unknown, belongs to the Almohad period and it contains 329 pages. Most of the 30 chapters cover the formulation of remedies and how to treat injuries. It is written in Maghrebi cursive script. On the page that deals with cauterisation, some surgical tools are naively depicted, painted in black, red and yellow.

View Short Description

This manuscript is a copy of one of the 30 volumes of the encyclopaedia written by the greatest surgeon of his time, known in Europe as Abulcasis. It contains illustrations of surgical instruments that he invented. This page deals with cauterisation.

How date and origin were established:

The date of the copy, missing the units digit, appears on the last page (colophon) of this volume.

How Object was obtained:


How provenance was established:

The style of the writing and the manuscript date, which is very close to the date of the original, suggest Andalusian origin.

Selected bibliography:

Abd al-Rahman, A. J., Printed Arabic Manuscripts, al-Baçra, 1981.
Al-Arabi al-Khatabi, M., Faharis al-Khizana al-Malakia, Rabat, 1982.
Al-Razi J. and Varichon, A., Maroc, les trésors du Royaume, exhibition catalogue, Paris, 1999.
Benjelloun-Laroui, L., Les bibliothèques au Maroc, Paris, 1990.
Haji Khalifa, Kitab kachf al- zounoum an asâmî al-koutoub wal-founoun, Istanbul, 1941.

Citation of this web page:

Naima El Khatib-Boujibar "Manuscript from the medical treatise Kitab al-tasrîf liman ajaza an al-talîf fi al-tibb by Abu al-Qasim Khalaf ibn ‘Abbas al-Andalusi al-Zahrawi" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2016.;ISL;ma;Mus01_F;16;en

Prepared by: Naima El Khatib-BoujibarNaima El Khatib-Boujibar

Archéologue et historienne de l'art, titulaire d'une licence en lettres (française), N. Elkhatib-Boujibar a également étudié l'archéologie et l'histoire de l'art à l'Institut d'art et d'archéologie de Paris, l'art islamique et la muséologie à l'École du Louvre (Paris), et suivi des cours à l'Institut d'ethnographie de l'Université de Neuchâtel (Suisse). Elle a occupé plusieurs postes de responsabilité, parmi lesquels directrice des Musées et de l'Archéologie, inspectrice générale des Musées et de l'Archéologie, déléguée régionale du ministère de la Culture.
Elle a dirigé un chantier de fouille durant 20 ans et enseigné à l'Institut national marocain des sciences de l'archéologie et du patrimoine (INSAP). Elle a organisé différentes expositions sur le patrimoine marocain, au Maroc comme à l'étranger, et animé des cycles de conférence, dont celui sur l'art islamique à la “Villa des Arts” à Casablanca.
N. El Khatib-Boujibar a publié différents articles sur le patrimoine archéologique, artistique et architectural marocain, mais aussi sur d'autres sites islamiques et sur les arts mobiliers. Elle a également participé à la rédaction du catalogue Musée Sans Frontières Le Maroc andalou, à la rencontre d'un art de vivre.

Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: MO 18


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