Farid Alakbarli. Medical Manuscripts of Azerbaijan. Page 11

 

 

8. ANIMALS USED IN TRADITIONAL MEDICINE OF MEDIEVAL AZERBAIJAN

 

Since antiquity Humankind used various animal species as medicines. For example, Egyptian papyri dating back approximately to 1500 BC contain more than 800 descriptions of healing methods, including treatment by substances of animal origin. Ancient Greeks recommended using the ash of hippocampus (sea-horse) to cure bald spots, and ash of marine crabs for bites by a rabid dog.

 

In the 4th century BC Aristotle described many species of poisonous and healing fishes. The Roman physician Dioscorides (1st century BC) collected poisonous animals that inhabited European seas.

 

Azerbaijani people also have a rich and ancient tradition in the field of medicine. There are numerous natural medicines of animal origin (honey, wax, milk, fat, meat, skin, bones, eggs, urine, etc.) described in medieval Azerbaijan manuscripts on medicine and pharmacology, which date back to the 9th - 18th centuries AD. Azerbaijan is situated on the coast of the Caspian Sea. The rich fauna of this sea also was applied for medical purposes. In spite of this rich heritage, the traditional medicine of Azerbaijan has not been satisfactorily investigated. Until quite recently, we had no information about the specific characteristics of animals described in medieval Azerbaijan sources. These species had not been identified and classified in taxonomic and therapeutic groups. Since 1987, the author of the present study has been engaged in the work of identifying and analyzing the traditional medicines described in these manuscripts. As a result of this work numerous species of animals used in Azerbaijan during the Middle Ages have been identified.

 

The result of this research provide grounds for the view that the recommendations of the medieval authors regarding the medicinal application of animals can be applied to modern medicine once they have been experimentally and clinically tested.

 

General Rules and Guide-lines of Description

 

In the medieval manuscripts, one can find characteristics of various animal products. For example:

 

EGGS. Eggs' yolk is applied to preparation of ointment which is good against tumors, hemorrhoids and toothaches. Yolk must be mixed with rose oil, infusion of chamomile and applied to tumors as compress. Egg's white is used externally to treat blisters and burns. [72]

 

HONEY. Rinsing and gargling with honey water is good against quinsy and stomatitis. Honey strengthens gums and teeth, and is good for blood vessels, heals heartbeat, and contributes the eliminatation of wastes from organism. To treat inflammation and ulcers of bowels, it is necessary for three days to give enemas with mixture made of decoction of plantain and honey. [59]

 

WAX. Softens human's skin, if applied externally and therefore is used in beauty treatment. Wax is usually spread on the face to improve its color and to eliminate wrinkles. [38]

 

Medieval manuscripts contain detailed descriptions of animals and sometimes look like reference books on zoology. For example, Ibn Sina wrote about monitor lizard: "The Turkic name is varal. It is the largest species among both the long-tailed and small-headed lizards. This species is not similar to lizard named uromastix. The latter occurs only in deserts and its head, body and tail are differed from the same parts of monitor lizard. Although, their healing

properties are similar to each other." [2]

 

The fundamental pharmacopoeias containing alphabetical lists of hundreds of animal species are of particular interest. Among these sources we should mark "Jam al-Baghdady" (1311 AD) by Yusif bin Ismail Khoyi, "Tukhfat al-Mu'minin" (1669 AD) by Mir Muhammad Mu'min, "Fawa'id al-Hikmat" (18th century) by Haji Suleiman Iravani, etc. In these sources descriptions of animals are arranged according to following order and succession:

 

1. Name of the animal (usually in Arabic)

2. Synonyms of this name in different languages (Azeri, Turkish, Persian, Old Greek, Hindu, Coptic, Old Jewish, Sanskrit, Old Syrian) and dialects.

3. Information about different species

4. Morphological peculiarities of the animal: size, color, forms, etc.

5. Distribution of habitats (continent, region, country, district, etc.).

6. Landscape and environment of habitation (mountains, forest, veldt, desert, lake, river, sea, etc.)

7. Useful properties (medical, culinary, economical, etc.)

8. Descriptions of substitutes used in the absence of the original products recommended.

 

Detailed descriptions of different animal species we can findin such fundamental medieval pharmacopoeias as "Adwar al-Hammiyat" by Muhammad bin Namvar Tabrizi (1194-1245 AD), "Jam' al-Baghdadi" written in 1311 by Yusif bin Isma'il Khoyi, "Jam' al-Adwiyya" by Ibn al-Beithar (13th century), "Ikhtiyarat-i Bad'i" by Ali Ibn al-Huseyn Ansari (1329-1404 AD), "Tuhfat al-Mu'minin" by Muhammad Mu'min (d. 1697 AD), "Fawa'id al-Hikmat" by Haji Suleyman Iravani (18th century), "Makhzan al-Adwiyya" by Muhammad Huseyn Khan (18th century), etc.

 

The mentioned books include detailed descriptions of numerous animal species arranged in alphabetical order. While describing animal species the medieval Muslim scholars used the information from various sources including books of ancient Greek authors, such as Hippocrates (460-355 BC) and Galen ( 129-200 AD), Indian medical books "Sushruta Ayurveda" by Sushruta (1st century BC) and "Charaka Samkhita" by Charaka (5th century AD), experience of Turkic folk medicine and old Iranian traditions of healing.

 

Thus, the Azeri authors cited ancient Indian beliefs about hare: HARE. Meat of hare creates thick blood, but is more useful than sheep's and goat's meat. It is a healing food applied to treatment of urinary diseases. To eliminate its side effects it should be eaten with chicory and sour pomegranate. Fat of this animal is used externally as an ointment against chaps and tumors the skin. Indian physicians believe that hare's blood is good against nervous diseases. [38]

 

Small medical encyclopedias, short re f e rence-books on pharmacognosy and various treatises devoted to individual scientific issues contain more limited information about animals. This information is devoted mainly to the healing properties of animal species and does not contain necessary facts about their morphological peculiarities, distribution and other characteristics.

 

Among them we can mention such books as "Tibbname" (1712 AD) by Muhammad Yusif Shirvani, "Manafe' an-Nas" by Muhammad Atthar Salyani (18th century), "Jam' al-Fawa'id" written in 1511 by Yusif bin Muhammad Harawi, etc.

 

While studying animal species used in medieval medicine, the wide range of medieval sources has been investigated. But the main attention was paid to the fundamental medieval pharmacopoeias which are kept in the Institute of Manuscripts (Baku).

 

Zoological Terms in Medieval Sources

 

Most of the zoological terms used in medieval sources are names of animals in different languages. Usually, scientists cited the animal Arabic name. Then, they mentioned its names in other languages such as Azeri, Turkish, Hindu, Persian, Greek, and even in different local dialects (the Egyptian dialect of Arabic or the Isfahan dialect of Persian and so on).

 

Medieval authors included numerous animal names in their books to facilitate the correct identification of medical remedies. Foreign traders engaged in imports and exports of medical products usually knew and used various foreign names of them. To prevent confusion, medieval scholars collected hundreds of foreign names of animals and translated them into their own languages. Thereby, practical interests led scientists to widen their knowledge. As a result, step by step medieval scientist laid the foundation of such science as zoology.

 

There are numerous names of animals listed in medieval sources, out of which 382 were more widely used. The linguistic classification of these medieval terms is given in the

 

Table 2. Linguistic Classification of Animals' Names

Languages

Quantity of species

%

Arabic

133

34,8

Persian

102

26,8

Old Azeri (Turkic)

95

24,9

Greek

26

6,8

Ancient Syrian

16

4,2

Indian languages

7

1,8

Latin

2

0,5

Chinese

1

0,2

TOTAL

382

100,0

 

 

For example, Abu Reyhan Biruni (973-1048 AD) in his "Kitab as-Saydana fi at-Tibb" wrote: "Asad (اسد - lion - F.A.) is named laun لاون in Rumi, arya اريا in Saryani, shir شير in Farsi, arslan ۱رسلان in Turki, sir سير in Hindi ." [18]

 

Haji Suleyman Iravani (18th century) wrote about fallowdeer: FALLOW-DEER. The Turkic name is jugur, the Arabic - iyyal. Ash of its horn mixed with 4.5 g of incense oil is applied to treat the ulcers of bowel, chronic diarrhea, bleeding, and spleen and urinary bladder pains. The white ash of burnt horns mixed with vinegar is used externally against spots on the skin. Rennet-bag of fallow-deer intensifies libido. [38]

 

As to the term Rumi, it is the Old Azeri name of the Medieval Greek (Byzantine) language which was spread in the territory of Rum (Minor Asia) during the Middle Ages. On the contrary, the Yunani (from Greek Ionios) is the ancient Greek language which was used by Hippocrates (460-377 BC). In the times of Biruni (973-1048 AD), this language was already dead and could save itself only in the pages of ancient books. The term Hindi could mean diffe rent languages of India, including Hindu, Sanskrit, Sindhi (al-Lugat as-Sindiyyat), etc.

 

The term Saryani (Syrian) means the northern (Mesopotamian) dialect of the Aramaic, one of the ancient Semitic languages that ceased his existence about 9th century AD. The Coptic (Ancient Egyptian) was mentioned as Gubti. Some examples of terms in different languages are given in the table below. All studied sources contain terms in Old Azeri (Turkic), Arabic and Persian. The majority of Persian names have been found in Persian sources, whereas majority of the Old Azeri terms have been listed in Azeri (Turkic) manuscripts.

 

As to the Arabic terms, their considerable number is contained not only in Arabic but also in Persian and Turkic medical books. For the Azerbaijan scientists, Arabic was as important as Latin and Greek for the medieval West, i.e. the language of culture, sciences and education. Firstly, medieval authors listed Arabic names of animals and just then mentioned their names in other languages, except for cases when they could not find the Arabic names for some animal species. At these cases, scientists used names in other languages. Usually, Arabs changed and deformed foreign words according to norms of their own language and script. For example, Persian kargadan (rhinoceros) was changed into Arabic karkadan and Greek foce (seal) - into Arabic fuka and quqa.

 

A description of bear from the medieval source: BEAR. The Turkic name is ayu, Arabic - dubb, Persian - khers. Fat of this animal is used externally as an ointment against fractures of bones, dislocations, strained tendons, and pains in joints. According to Avicenna, the mixture of bear's fat, snake's fat and blood of sea hare is good against alopecia, if applied externally on bald spots. The bear gall is the component of ointment for treatment of carbuncles. [2]

Medieval sources contain numerous Turkic names of animals. The comparative study indicates that majority of these terms have not changed sinc those times and is so far used in Azeri Turkic language. Some examples of Turkic names of animals are given below with the help of modern Azeri Latin alphabet, which in most cases perfectly reflects phonetic pucularities of Turkic languages.

 

Porsuq - badger; qunduz - beaver; dəvə - camel; qurd - wolf; kirpi - hedgehog; dovşan - hare; keçi - goat; inək - cow; pişik - cat; köstəbək - mole; qulan - qulan; cügür - fallowdeer, arslan - lion; qaplan - leopard; yarasa - bat; tülkü - fox; at - horse; ayı - bear; siçan - mouse; qoyun - sheep; maral - deer; ulaq - donkey; donquz - pig, swine; it - dog; çaqqal - jackal; sərçə - sparrow; quzğun - crow; alabaxta sylvan pigeon; qumru - turtle-dove; qaratoyuq - thrush; ağacdələn - wood-pecker; durna - crane; çalağan - kite; toyuq - hen; kəklik - partridge; qirlanğuc - swallow; bildirçin -quail; sığırçın - starling; qızılquş - falcon; sarıquş - owl; dəvəquşu - ostrich; gırğavul - pheasant; yapalaq - eagle-owl; qırğı - hawk; ağac qurbağası - ree-frog; qurbağa - frog; çanağli bağa - tortoise, turtle; örümçək - spider; sinək - gnat, mosquito; qarınca - ant, etc.

 

As it has been already noted, majority of these words are used also in modern Azerbaijani and Turkish. A description of ant from the medieval source: ANT. The Turkic name is garınca. The ant decoction is good analgesic remedy applied to heal rheumatism, pains in joints and bones. You should take ants, put them in alcohol and store for a week. Then you should spread this infusion on knees or other joints. Besides, ants are used for preparation of ear drops. For these purposes the ants are boiled in the olive oil. These drops are used against pains in ears. [60]

The examples of Arabic names are given below: namr - tiger, leopard; jamal - camel; zi'b - wolf; dabu' - hyena; dikhas - dolphin; qunfuz - hedgehog; zurafa - giraffe; arnab - hare; baqar - cow; sinnur - cat; khimar al-vahshi - qulan; ibn 'irs - weasel; asad - lion; dubb - bear; huffash - bat; sa'lab - fox; fa'r - mouse; meymun - monkey; da'n - sheep; iyyal - deer; khimar - donkey; kalb -dog; fil - elephant; khuttaf - swallow;

Some Arabic names have Persian roots. For example, Arabic jamus (buffalo) is derived from Persian gamush, Arabic laqlaq (stork) came from Persian laklak, etc.

 

Medieval Azeri authors mentioned numerous Persian names of animals. For example: boz kuhi - Caucasian goat; gamush - buffalo; shatr - camel; gorg - wolf; kaftar - hyena; doldol - porcupine; kharposht - hedgehog; gav - cow; gorbe - cat; mush-i kur - mole; dale - marten; shir - lion; asb - horse; khers - bear; mush -mouse; gusefand - sheep; khinzir - pig, swine; sag - dog; palang - tiger; gonjeshk - sparrow; zag - crow; kabutar - pigeon; mahi - fish; kaf-i darya - cuttlefish; agrab - scorpion, etc.

 

Some Persian animal names have originated from Old Turkic roots. Among them we should mark such words as: alafakhte (sylvan pigeon) is derived from Turkic alabaxta, qirqi (hawk) is derived from Turcik qırğı, qizilale (trout) is derived from Turkic qızıllalə. The Turkic term for snakes (yılan) also is repeatedly cited in medieval books written in Persian.

 

For example, Muhammad Mu'min (17th century) wrote: SNAKE. Cut off heads of 10 snakes, place them in small copper pot filled with olive oil, add some sesame, tightly cover the pot and boil. This oil should be massaged on skin to liquidate spots, traces of mange and measles. Skin of snakes is used for treatment of festering wounds. Mix it with flax oil, let the mixture draw for few days and use externally against wounds and ulcers. To prepare the medicine against mange, clean the snake, stuff it with dried basil and roast on the fire. Then, remove the basil, spread on mange, and leave there for a day. [60]

Medieval Muslim authors mention about 800 names of medicines in Greek, but most of them are terms for medicinal plants. However, one can find in their works numerous names of animals. Most of them came to Oriental languages from ancient Greek books on medicine which were translated into Arabic in the early Era of Khalifat. Sometimes, Muslim translators couldn't find Arabic terms for some Greek names of animals and therefore left a number of Greek names without translation. Thus, numerous ancient Greek terms penetrated into scholarly books in Arabic. Most of these terms were changed and distorted according to phonetic and orthographic norms of Arabic.

 

It should be noted that Arabic alphabet can't accurately and correctly represent foreign (non-Arabic) terms and names. The Arabic script has no letters for such important Greek sounds as "pi"(π), "o"(ο), etc. Besides, occasional mistakes of medieval copyists changed correct spelling of a number of Greek words. For example, foka (φωχη ) turned at first into fua فوقى and then into quqa قوقى etc.

 

Some examples of these distorted Greek names are given below: The Arabic Dulfin (دلفن - dolphin) is derived from Greek delphinos (δελφινος); fuqa فوقى (seal) - from foce (φωχη); salamandira سالاماندرا (salamander) - from salamandra (σαλαμανδρα); samarus سماروس (anchovy or sardine) - from smaris (σμαρις); sibiya سبيا (cuttlefish) - from sepia (σηπια); tatiqus طاطيقس (cicada) from tettigos (τεττιγος), etc.

 

The Latin names also were used in medieval sources. For example, the term babaga' ببغا (parrot) is derived from Latin papagalli (the Pope's cock). Besides that Arabic name safragun صفراغون is derived from Latin ossifrafgos (white-tailed sea eagle - Falco Ossifragus). The only Chinese animal's name has been found in medieval sources. It is khu-tu خوتو that means horn of rhinoceros.

 

Classification of Animals in Medieval Sources

 

Most of terms cited in medieval sources involve not only individual species, but also the entire genera. Among them there are such names as sinjab - squirrel; deve - camel; kirpi - hedgehog, doldol - porcupine, etc. We know that there are different species of squirrels, camels, hedgehogs, porcupines in the nature. Which of them did the medieval author mean? Based only in these names can't exactly identify mentioned animals. Fortunately, some medieval manuscripts meticulously describe morphology (appearance) of animals. In these cases, identification of species may be carried out on the basis of morphological descriptions.

 

Sometimes, medieval authors describe genera which contain only one species. Among them there are names of genera including only one species. Besides, they mention terms for species having very noticeable peculiarities, which differentiate them from other species of the genus. In first case, the name of species coincides with the name of genera. Such names as babir (leopard), aslan (lion), jeyran (gazelle) belong to genera with single species. For example, there is a single species of lion and leopard in the nature.

 

In the second case, the name points out the species with particular characteristics among other representatives of the genus.

Uncommon fangs and musk of iyyal mushk (musk deer) may serve as examples. Ibn Sina wrote: MUSK. Musk is contained in the navel of animal similar to gazelle. This animal has two fangs looking as the turned down horns... Liquid mixture consisted of musk, saffron and some camphor is good against headaches. The mentioned medicine should be dropped into the nose of diseased person. Besides, musk strengthens eyes and is applied to heal wall-eye. This substance strengthens the heart, eliminates arrhythmia and melancholia. Along with it, musk is used as antidote against various poisons, particularly aconite. [2]

 

In medieval sources we can trace the very first attempts to classify animal species according to species and genera. Undoubtedly, the name jamal (camel) point out the entire genus, whereas the Persian name shatr designates the Camelus bactrianus. The Arabic word nar indicates the male hybrid of dromedary and bactriany. Therefore, on the basis of resemblance between different species, medieval authors united them under common names. Species belonging to different genera and families were united within the limits of common taxonomic groups. For example, the old Azer Turkici term chanagli baga (tortoise) belongs to entire division of animals (Testudines). Other Azeri words, yilan (snake) and kertenkele (lizard) indicate the number of genera and families belonging to Ophidia and Sauria (footless lizards were called snakes as well).

 

Along with it, medieval authors used names for more large taxonomic groups, such as mammals, birds, fishes, insects, worms, etc. However the terms for such conceptions as class, family, genera, and species did not existed yet. Usually, medieval scholars used following terms: nov نوع or qism قسم that mean species. Below some descriptions from medieval sources are given.

 

Ibn Sina wrote that musk is contained in the navel of animal similar to gazelle. This animal has two fangs looking as the turned down horns... Liquid mixture consisted of musk, saffron and some camphor is good against headaches. The mentioned medicine should be dropped into the nose of diseased person. Besides, musk strengthens eyes and is applied to heal wall-eye. This substance strengthens the heart, eliminates arrhythmia and melancholia. Along with it, musk is used as antidote against various poisons, particularly aconite. [2]

Muhammad Mu'min wrote that beaver this animal is wide spread in Russia and in the Arax River in Caucasus. Such famous medicine as castor is received from glands of male beavers. One spoon of castor with vinegar and rose oil is used internally to heal poor memory and lethargy. Bandage with castor is good against headaches. Drinks with castor and vinegar are used to treat colic in bowels. Castor treats tumors, if is spread externally. [60]

 

Systematic analysis of identified animal species

 

In order to study the special composition of animals used in traditional medicine of Azerbaijan, a wide range of medieval sources on medicine and pharmacognosy from the collection of the Institute of Manuscripts of the Azerbaijan Academy of Sciences in Baku had been studied.

 

About 40 medieval sources of the 10-18th centuries including 17 manuscripts in Turkic, Persian and Arabic have been selected as the objects of the recent study. As a result, a total of 150 species of animals described in medieval Azerbaijani books on medicine and pharmacy have been identified. These species represent various animals from tiny insects to large beasts.

 

Most of the identified animals belong to mammals and include 47 species (31,0% of total number of identified species). The largest taxonomic group of mammals is Artiodactila which include 12 species (23%). A total of 36 species of birds described in the medieval sources have been identified. Species belonging to Passeriformes and Galliformes were widely used in the medieval medicine and culinary as healing dishes. The medieval authors describe 12 species of reptiles and 4 species of Amphibians. This group includes frogs, toads, salamanders and tree-frogs (Hyla arborea).

 

A total of 15 species of fishes described in medieval manuscripts have been identified. The fishes belonging to Cyprinoformes were widely used in the medieval Azerbaijan medicine and culinary.

 

The identified representatives of mollusks are as follows: pearl-oyster (Pinctada margaritifera), numerous species of squid (Teuthida), cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis), mussel (Mytilus edulis), octopus (Octopus vulgaris), snail (Helix pomatia). Most of crustaceans used in the medieval Azerbaijan medicine belong to Decopoda. The following representatives of common spiders (Aranea) have been identified in medieval manuscripts: black karakurt (Latrodectus tredecimguttatus), tarantula (Lycosa singoriensis) and garden-spider (Araneus diadematus).

 

At the same time, physicians of those times made wide use of various species of worms, sponges, corals, etc., the exact identification of which is difficult or even impossible. As usual, medieval authors unite a number of species under the common name and do not give sufficient information about their morphology. Classification of the identified animals is shown in the Table 3.

 

Table 3. Classification of animals according to taxonomic groups

 

Taxonomic groups

Number of species

%

Mammalians (Mammalia)

47

31,0

Birds (Aves)

36

22,5

Reptilians (Reptilia)

12

8,0

Amphibians (Amphibia)

4

5,2

Fishes (Pisces)

15

9,5

Mollusks (Mollusca)

6

4,0

Crustaceans (Crustaceae)

5

3,1

Spiders (Arachnida)

5

3,1

Insects (Insecta)

17

11,5

Worms (Vermes)

3

2,1

TOTAL

150

100,0

MAMMALS

 

Most of the identified animals are mammals and include 47 species (31% of total number of identified species). The largest taxonomic group is Artiodactila which includes 12 species (23%): cows, buffaloes, goats, sheep and various wild animals including rhinoceros, etc.

 

For example, Haji Suleyman Iravani (18th century) wrote about fallow-deer: "The Turkic name is jugur, the Arabic - iyyal. Ash of its horn mixed with 4.5 g of incense oil is applied to treat the ulcers of bowel, chronic diarrhoea, bleeding, and spleen and urinary bladder pains. The white ash of burnt horns mixed with vinegar is used externally against spots on the skin. Rennetbag of fallow-deer intensifies libido". [38]

 

The medicines prepared from horns and other parts of rhinoceros were considered as antidotes and were imported to Azerbaijan from India.

 

Seventeen species of carnivores described in medieval sources have been identified. During the Middle Ages, such Carnivora as lions, tigers, leopards, hyenas as well as wolves, foxes, jackals, bears and other small carnivores were widespread in Azerbaijan. Various organs (meat, skin, horns, etc.) of these animals were used in the medieval Azerbaijan medicine.

 

The medieval author writes about the brown bear: "The Turkic name is ayu, Arabic - dubb, Persian - khers. Fat of this animal is used externally as an ointment against fractures of bones, dislocations, strained tendons, and pains in joints. According to Avicenna, the mixture of bear's fat, snake's fat and the blood of sea hare is good against alopecia, if applied externally on bald spots. The bear gall is the component of ointment for treatment of carbuncles." [38]

 

Azerbaijani manuscripts contain information about such marine mammals as whales, seals and dolphins. For example, such famous medicines as ambergris and spermaceti came from whales. The terms fuku and su-iti (seal) were applied to various species of seals, including the Caspian seal (Pusa caspia) about which Muhammad Mu'min (died in 1697 AD) wrote: "Fat of the Caspian seal is of high value. Besides, men make from its skin special leather bags for transportation of oil. It is believed that the rennet bag of seal is good against the falling sickness. Besides, this remedy is applied internally to heal poisonings. Seal's rennet bag is used for treatment of intestine ulcers as well." [60]

 

Amber is a fragrant substance similar to wax which is found on the shores of the Indian ans Pacific Oceans. It is the excrement of the cachalot (sperm-whale), which was used both in medicine and beauty treatment. According to medieval sources amber is good for the brain, feelings and heart.

BIRDS

 

36 species of birds described in the medieval sources have been identified. Species belonging to Passeriformes and Galliformes were widely used in medieval medicine and cookery as healing dishes. Among the identified Passeriformes are such species as sparrow, thrush, skylark, etc. Seven identified species belong to Galliformes (hen, pheasant, partridge, quail, etc.).

 

For example, medieval Azerbaijani sources describe the medicinal application of the sparrow: "Meat and eggs of sparrow intensify libido. To treat sexual disorders, it is necessary to fry some onion, add several sparrow eggs and eat regularly every day. If there are no sparrow eggs available, they can be substituted for hen eggs. Ash of sparrow wings is applied on wounds as a compress. Ointment from dung of sparrow is recommended against spots on the skin and eye wall." [38]

 

REPTILES

 

The medieval authors describe 12 species of reptiles. According to the medieval manuscripts, these species were successfully used to treat different ailments including sexual impotence and leprosy. Among them we see indigenous species occurring in Azerbaijan at the present time: Caucasian agama (Agama caucasica), Levantine viper (Vipera lebentina), Mediterranean tortoise (Testudo graeca), Moorish gecko (Tarentola mauritanica), etc. Exotic reptiles included chameleon (Chameleo chameleo), monitor lizard (Varanus griseus), crocodile (Crocodylus nilotus), etc. The medicines prepared from these reptiles were imported into Azerbaijan from other countries.

 

Various parts of Vipera lebentina were considered as a very strong medicine. For example, the medieval author recommends: "Cut off heads of 10 snakes, place them in small copper pot filled with olive oil, add some sesame, tightly cover the pot and boil. This oil should be massaged on skin to liquidate spots, traces of mange and measles. Skin of snakes is used for treatment of festering wounds. Mix it with flax oil, let the mixture draw for few days and use externally against wounds and ulcers. To prepare the medicine against mange, clean the snake, stuff it with dried basil and roast on the fire. Then, remove the basil, spread on mange, and leave there for a day." [2]

 

AMPHIBIANS

 

Four species of Amphibians described in the medieval sources have been identified. This group includes frogs, toads, salamanders and tree-frogs (Hyla arborea). Amphibians were not used in medicine as widely as reptiles. Medieval authors did not carefully identify the frog species. In most cases they wrote about the lake-frog (Rana ridibunda). However, authors of the Middle Ages mentioned such individual species of Amphibians as common tree-frog (Hyla arborea) and warned that frogs should not be confused with toads, some of which may be poisonous.

 

FISHES

 

15 species of fishes described in medieval manuscripts have been identified. Fishes belonging to Cyprinoformes were widely used in medieval Azerbaijan medicine and cookery. Among them there are the following species: kutum Blacksea roach, Rutilus frisii kutum; khasham - asp, Aspius aspius; sazan or chaki - common carp, Cyprinus carpio; shahbalig Danubian bleak, Chalcalburnus chalcoides.

 

The medieval authors repeatedly wrote about an excellent taste and the high medical properties of these species. Recently, these fishes are widely used in modern Azerbaijan cooking, although their medical properties are forgotten.

 

Sturgeon (Acipenser ruthenus) was used by the ancient Azeri physicians as well. However the use of this fish in cookery was limited by the religion of Islam. Nevertheless, Azerbaijani physicians used the meat and fat of the sturgeon to treat some ailments. It was considered that the meat and caviar of sturgeon were aphrodisiac. In addition they were used to treat pneumonia and tuberculosis.

 

MOLLUSCS

 

Identified molluscs are: pearl-oyster (Pinctada margaritifera), numerous species of squid (Teuthida), cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis), mussel (Mytilus edulis), octopus (Octopus vulgaris), snail (Helix pomatia). Most of these, (apart from Helix pomatia), were imported into Azerbaijan from other regions, in particular, from the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean. For example, the medieval Azeri author writes about the medicinal properties of cuttlefish: "Skin of cuttlefish is applied externally to eyes to treat trachoma. Besides, its skin ash is a component of eye medicines. To remove eye-wall it is recommended to powder on eyes the mixture of burnt cuttlefish skin. Besides, this animal is used in veterinary. Residents of regions located near Jerusalem use the ash of cuttlefish skin to heal eye-wall in domestic animals.

 

CRUSTACEANS

Most of crustaceans used in medieval Azerbaijan medicine belong to Decopoda: crayfish, lobster, shrimp, sea-crabs and river-crabs. All these, with the exception of crayfish, were imported into Azerbaijan from abroad, (shrimps and seacrabs presently inhabiting the Caspian were introduced in the middle of the 20th century).

 

SPIDERS

 

The following spiders (Aranea) have been identified in medieval manuscripts: black karakurt (Latrodectust redecimguttatus), tarantula (Lycosa singoriensis) and garden-spider (Araneus diadematus).

 

In addition, species belonging to Scorpiones and Opiliones were also used in medieval Azerbaijan medicine. The medieval author writes about the medicinal application of spider: "Ash of burnt spiders is used to prepare medicine against tumours. Compress with spiders boiled in olive oil resolves tumours.

 

Decoction prepared from spiders boiled in rose oil is applied as analgesic ear-drops. Web of spider stops bleeding and resolves tumours. Web with vinegar is applied externally against furuncles." [38]

 

INSECTS AND WORMS

 

Medieval manuscripts contain numerous names of various worms and insects (ants, flies, beetles, etc.), however their exact identification is rather difficult. As usual, medieval authors unite a number of species under one name and do not give sufficient information about their morphology.

 

Various species of earthworm were widely used in medicine. According to the medieval manuscript: "Compress with this animal is used against tumors. Ointment prepared from earthworm and fine wheat flour is applied externally to treat injuries, joints pains and inflamed tumors. Earthworm with apricot seeds is used for preparation of ointment against hemorrhoids." [60]

 

9. MEDICINES OF MINERAL ORIGIN

 

Medieval Azerbaijan manuscripts contain numerous descriptions of "healing" stones, clay, grounds, etc. It has been found that there were 115 minerals used in medieval Azerbaijan medicine. The descriptions of minerals in these sources are arranged according to following order and succession: the mineral name (usually in Arabic), its synonyms in different languages and dialects, its morphological peculiarities (color, forms, transparency, firmness, etc.), place of its extraction (continent, region, country, district, etc.), its medical properties, and recipes of various medicines prepared from this mineral.

 

We can find detailed descriptions of different minerals in fundamental medieval pharmacopoeias such as "Adwar al-Hammiyat" by Muhammad bin Namvar Tabrizi (1194-1245 AD), "Jam' al-Baghdadi" written in 1311 by Yusif bin Isma'il Khoyi, etc. However, the majority of authors did not exactly follow this method of description. Sometimes, authors mentioned only the name of a mineral. In other cases, authors gave more detailed description of the mineral, but "forget" to characterize its properties. Therefore, some minerals are not sufficiently characterized. For example, the following minerals have not been exactly identified yet, e.g. "stone of Africa " (hajar al-afrigi), "pharaoh's stone" (hajar al-fir'un), "Coptic stone" (hajar al-gubti), "Phrigian stone" (hajar alafruji), etc.

 

Medieval manuscripts on medical and pharmaceutical practices kept at the Institute of Manuscripts of the Azerbaijan Academy of Science indicate that oil and oil products were widely used as medicines in the Middle Ages. For example, the book "Jam-al-Baghdadi" ("Baghdad Collection") written in 1311 by the medieval Azerbaijani author Yusif bin Isma'il Khoyi, addresses such issues as use of oil and bitumen in medicine. According to this document, ointments made from oil were applied externally to treat tumors, eye drops made from oil were used to treat cataracts, and ear drops made from oil were used to treat ear pain. [88]

 

In his 1669 book "Tukhfat al-mu'minin", Muhammad Mu'min recommended the use of oil-containing remedies for asthma, chronic cough, colic, dyspepsia, and intestinal worms. [60] The seventeenth century Azerbaijani author Hasan bin Riza Shirvani similarly described the curative effects of "white oil", "blue oil", "black oil", and bitumen. [39] Oil was used for veterinary purposes as well. Abdurrashid Bakuvi, a 15th century scientist who lived in Baku, wrote about the antiseptic properties of oil. Acco rding to this author, residents of Baku and Absheron treated the hair of camels with oil to protect them from mange. [69]

 

In modern Azerbaijan, the treatment with oil is carried out in the health resort of Naftalan which has natural resources of special healing oil (the Naftalan oil). As is evident from the stated above, medieval Azeri authors recommended the use of different stones, minerals, ground, clay, etc. for medical purposes. Some examples from Favaid al-Hikmat [38] are given below:

 

AMMONIA. This substance may be used to heal external and internal ulcers, stop bleeding and as a good expectorant. Warm compress of ammonia with egg whites is good against spots on the skin. Mixture of ammonia and sesame oil can be applied to scabies.

 

ANTIMONY. This substance stops bleeding, protects the eyes' health, strengthens eyesight, heals wounds around eyes. Antimony is widely used externally against tumors of eyes and other eye diseases. Ointment prepared fro m antimony and fat is applied to fire burns of skin.

 

IRON. This metal should be heated and submerged in water. Then, this water is used against chronic diarrhea, hemorrhoids, bowel ulcers and tumors of spleen. Ayran (national dairy product prepared from yogurt - author) spilled on the burning hot iron is applied against diarrhea. Along with it, the iron water stimulates libido.

 

OIL. Mineral oil is used to prepare ointments applied externally against such diseases as neuralgias, physical weakness, paralysis, tremor, etc. Oil is also good against pains in breast, cough, asthma, rheumatism.

 

SALT. Mixture of salt and olive oil is applied to fire and sun burns. Compress with mixture of salt, vinegar and honey is good against bites of bees and other insects. Salt stimulates appetite, but an excessive use of salt is bad for eyes, brain, blood, libido, etc.

 

SODA. Compress from soda is used to treat scabies and spots on the skin. It also refreshes the skin of a face. Soda is mixed with warm oils to prepare an ointment against fever and shivering.

 

SULFUR. This substance is good against poisoning. Warm compress from mixture of sulfur, tarragon roots, honey and vinegar is recommended against rash of the skin.

TIN. Powder of this metal mixed with various substances such as juices of coriander, chicory, plantain, unripe grapes or rose oil is good against inflamed tumors, ulcers and itches, if is applied externally as compress.

 

 

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