Movement 2: Imagining the plants and metaphorizing the social / Immagini vegetali e metafore del sociale

Images of the plant kingdom in the Mamluk encyclopedia Masālik al-abṣār by Ibn Faḍl Allāh al-‘Umarī (d. 1349)


Abstract


This article aims at analyzing the representation of the plant kingdom in the Masālik al-abṣār fī mamālik al-amṣār, an Arabic encyclopaedia written by one the leading scholar of the Mamluk period, Šihāb al-Dīn Ibn Faḍl Allāh al-‘Umarī (1301-1349). The first part of the article offers an insight into the work of al-‘Umarī by presenting it in the framework of the encyclopaedic activities that characterize the fourteenth century. It also analyzes a number of special features of the Masālik al-abṣār and provides a detailed presentation of all its contents. The second part focuses on the plants (al-nabāt) which al-‘Umarī discusses along with the animals (al-ḥayawān) and the minerals (al-ma‘ādin). In drafting his encyclopedia, al-‘Umarī used various sources, ranging from Greek authors, such as Dioscorides, to Ibn Sīnā’s Qānūn fī l-ṭibb, Ibn al-Bayṭār’s Ǧāmi‘ and al-Qazwīnī’s ‘Aǧā’ib al-maḫlūqāt. Al-‘Umarī provided a new organization of all the information previously known to botanists of his time. Hence, the plants are classified into three types, the trees (al-šaǧar), the herbs (al-a‘šāb) and the plants (al-nuǧūm), arranged alphabetically and distributed according to their region of provenance.

Keywords

Arabic literature; Arabic encyclopaedia; Encyclopaedism; Mamluk period; plants

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13135/1825-263X/1881

References


a.1. Edizioni in arabo (complete) del Masālik al-Abṣār fī Mamālik al-Amṣār

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a.2. Edizioni in arabo (parziali) del Masālik al-Abṣār fī Mamālik al-Amṣār

Ibn Faḍl Allāh al-‘Umarī. 1919. Waṣf Ifrīqiyya wa-l-Maġrib wa-l-Andalus awāsiṭ al-qarn al-ṯāmin li-l-hiǧra min kitāb Masālik al-abṣār fī mamālik al-amṣār. Ed. a cura di Ḥasan Ḥusnī ʻAbd al-Wahhāb. Tunisi: n.e.

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b. Manoscritti ed edizioni (indipendenti) della sezione sul regno vegetale

Ms Paris, BnF, Ar. 2771 = Ibn al-Bayṭār, Kitāb al-manāfi‘ al-ḥayawān wa-ḫawāṣṣ al-mufradāt.

Ḥamdān 1996 = Ibn Faḍl Allāh al-‘Umarī. 1996. Masālik al-Abṣār fī Mamālik al-Amṣār. Fī al-ḥayawān wa-l-nabāt wa-l-ma‘ādin. Ed. a cura di ‘Abd al-Ḥamīd Ṣāliḥ Ḥamdān. Cairo: Maktabat Madbūlī.

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