Smithsonian Freer Gallery Sackler Gallery National Museum of Asian Art Gallery Guide Arts of the Islamic World
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One of the earliest known illustrated texts from the Islamic world is the Arabic translation of the Greek Materia Medica, a treatise on the use of some five hundred pharmaceutical plants and mineral substances. It was originally compiled in the first century C.E. by Dioscorides, who was attached to the Roman army and studied the flora and fauna of Asia Minor during his military service.

The Arabic copies of the Materia Medica are notable for their lively, often narrative compositions. This folio relates to a chapter on the effects of rabies on humans, which include barking and avoiding btinght light. To heighten the drama, the accompanying illustration centers on a helpless man recoiling from a rabies infected dog with blood-shot eyes and a foaming mouth.


"Man Bitten by Mad Dog"
llustration from an Arabic translation of the Materia Medica by Dioscorides
Iraq, Baghdad, dated 1224
Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper
33.2 cm x 25.0 cm
Purchase F1953.91


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