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New Medieval Books: The Book of the Crown (Kitāb al-Iklīl) of Pseudo-Rhazes

The Book of the Crown (Kitāb al-Iklīl) of Pseudo-Rhazes

Edited and translated by Oliver Kahl and Henrietta Sharp Cockrell

ISBN: 978-90-04-54402-4

A translation of a 10th-century medical text by Abū Bakr Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyāʾ al-Rāzī, better known in the West as Rhazes. The work offers a guide to a healthy life, offering advice on bathing, eating, sleeping and other day-to-day activities to help promote better living.


Frustratingly, it is not clear exactly why or for whom the Kitāb al-Iklīl was written. The preface does not mention a specific patron, only that Rhazes (or pseudo-Rhazes) wrote the work “for a friend as well as for others … [and for] those periods of life when they are active and full of energy”. Clearly the intended reader was assumed to be part of the wealthy social elite, with access to leisure activities such as polo and music, as well as to expensive dietary products and hard-to-source pharmaceutical ingredients. The most plausible assumption is that the work was perhaps written for a friend of the author, someone of similar social standing. With its concise and aesthetically pleasing presentation, and the present copy’s illuminated title panel, one could imagine the work being a valued, but not overly ostentatious, gift between friends.


Who is this book for?

This book is one of many texts we have about medieval medicine, perhaps a somewhat more important work considering it was (probably) written by Rhazes. Historians of this field will want to access this work, and those interested in other aspects of daily life, ranging from wine drinking to music could also learn some insights.

The translators

Oliver Kahl is a Research Fellow at the University of Marburg. Henrietta Sharp Cockrell is a specialist in Islamic art and manuscripts.


To learn more about this book, please visit the publisher’s website

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