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Friday, 26 January 2018 06:21

SCIENTIFIC MANUSCRIPTS OF MEDIEVAL AZERBAIJAN IN THE VATICAN APOSTOLIC LIBRARY

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FARID ALAKBARLI, PhD, Professor, Head of Department of International Relations of the Institute of Manuscripts of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences. Address: Istiqlaliyyat str.8, Baku – Az1001, Azerbaijan. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

International Symposium on “Science and Technology in Islamic Civilization". Khazar University, Baku, Azerbaijan, 20-22 February 2015.

 

 

ABSTRACT In order to identify and study the medieval manuscripts related to Azerbaijan, the manuscript collection of the Vatican Apostolic Library was carefully researched. As a result, 80 manuscripts in Turkic, Arabic and Persian have been found. In addition to poetic collections, they include works of such famous medieval scholars as the philosophers Bahmanyar al-Azerbaijani and Shihab al-Din Suhrawardi, the physician and pharmacist Muhammad Ibn Mahmud Shirvani, the philologist Hindushah Nakhchivani, the musicologist Safi al-Din Urmavi and others. At the same time, a total of 73 manuscripts wtitten in Ottoman and Azerbaijani Turkic were brought to preliminary study for the first time.

 

INTRODUCTION

Scholars from the medieval Azerbaijan created a number of works on different fields of knowledge including philosophy, medicine, history, mathematics, astronomy, geometry, chemistry, etc. These manuscripts are stored in many archives of the world including the Vatican Apostolic Library, which is one of the richest manuscript collections of Europe.

During many centuries, Vatican collected manuscripts from various countries of the world. In 2011-2013, the author of the present paper spent several monthes researching archival documents in the Vatican Apostolic Library and the Secret Archives of Vatican. As a result, numerous manuscripts, incunabula and documents dealing with the history and culture of Azerbaijan have been identified.

The main purpose of this paper is to give a preliminary overview of scientific manuscripts from medieval Azerbaijan, which are kept in the Vatican Apostolic Library. At the same time, brief biographical information about the authors of these works is given and their contribution to science is characterized. However, this paper is not a catalogue, and detailed bibliographic description of each manuscript is beyond the scope of this study.

The definition of "Azerbaijan" in this paper refers to present-day Republic of Azerbaijan and Southern or Iranian Azerbaijan, which consists of the following ostans (provinces) of Iran: Western Azerbaijan, Eastern Azerbaijan, Ardabil and Zanjan (Minhan, 2002, p.1765; Rahimli, 2011, p.50).

 

MATERIALS AND METHODS

The Vatican Apostolic Library is one of the oldest libraries in the world with significant collections of historical texts including about 1 600 000 printed books, 150 000 manuscripts and 8300 incunabula. The library treasures a rich collection of Oriental manuscripts, including sources related to Azerbaijan. The written sources in the Vatican Apostolic Library are distributed by languages. Since the manuscripts in medieval Azerbaijan were created mainly in Arabic, Persian and Turkish (Azerbaijani and Ottoman), depending on the language on which this or that manuscript is written, it was included in the Turkic, Arabic or Persian catalogue of the Library.

The following catalogues of the Apostolic Library were analyzed during the present study:

1. Elenco dei manoscritti arabi islamici della Biblioteca Vaticana: Vaticani, Barberiniani, Borgiani, Rossiani, Giorgio Levi della Vida, ed., Studi e testi, 67 (Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1935; rpt. 1968)

2. Joseph Simonius Assemanus, Bibliotheca orientalis Clementino-Vaticana in qua manuscriptos codices syriacos, arabicos, persicos, turcicos, hebraicos, samaritanos, armenicos, aethiopicos, graecos, aegyptiacos, ibericos, et malabaricos ... 3 vols. (Rome, 1719–28; rpt. Hildesheim: Olms, 2000)

3. Elenco dei manoscritti persiani della Biblioteca Vaticana: Vaticani, Barberiniani, Borgiani, Rossiani, Ettore Rossi, ed., Studi e testi, 136 (Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1948; rpt. 1983)

4. Joseph Simonius Assemanus, Bibliotheca orientalis Clementino-Vaticana in qua manuscriptos codices syriacos, arabicos, persicos, turcicos, hebraicos, samaritanos, armenicos, aethiopicos, graecos, aegyptiacos, ibericos, et malabaricos ... 3 vols. (Rome, 1719–28; rpt. Hildesheim: Olms, 2000)

5. Elenco dei manoscritti turchi della Biblioteca Vaticana: Vaticani, Barberiniani, Borgiani, Rossiani, Chigiani, Ettore Rossi, ed., Studi e testi, 174 (Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1953; rpt. 1996)

6. Joseph Simonius Assemanus, Bibliotheca orientalis Clementino-Vaticana in qua manuscriptos codices syriacos, arabicos, persicos, turcicos, hebraicos, samaritanos, armenicos, aethiopicos, graecos, aegyptiacos, ibericos, et malabaricos ... 3 vols. (Rome, 1719–28; rpt. Hildesheim: Olms, 2000).

Since the Vatican Apostolic Library contains a huge number of written sources, not all manuscripts are thoroughly studied, described and included in the printed or digital catalogs of the library. Therefore, the original sources were brought to study as well. A number of medieval texts in Turkish, Persian and Arabic have been thoroughly examined by the author of the present study to clarify whether this or that manuscript has any relation to Azerbaijan.

 

RESULTS

As a result of the present study, a number of medieval Azerbaijani manuscripts on different fields of knowledge have been identified. Along with scientific texts, it was discovered many manuscripts with poems by Nizami Ganjavi, Ovhadi Maragai, Imad al-Din Nasimi, Muhammad Fuzuli, Mahmud Shabistari, Shah Ismail Khatai, Sururi Ajami and other poets from Azerbaijan or related to Azerbaijan. However, since this study is devoted to manuscripts on science and philosophy, the poetic writings are not analyzed in the present paper.

The identified scientific manuscripts are listed and described below. The descriptions provide brief information about the manuscripts and their contents. General information on the authors of these works and their contribution to science is also given, while the detailed bibliographic description of each manuscript is beyond the scope of this study.

The Vatican Apostolic Library stores the philosophy book "al-Tahsil" ("Cognition") by Bahmanyar ibn Marzuban al-Azerbaijani (993-1066 AD) who was a follower of Aristotle and student of Avicenna. The work comprehensively summarizes and explains the philosophy of Aristotle. Following Aristotle, Bahmanyar analyzes various philosophical and scholarly issues including the origin of cognition. (Azerbaijani, ca. 1037-1066).

Bahmanyar contributed to development of geometry, mechanics and physics. He came to the conclusion that the only movement in the Universe is the rotational motion, and thereby made a new assumption about the properties of space and time. Bahmanyar recognized the phenomenon of curvature of space. In this statement, he contradicts the ancient Greek scholar Euclid, who argued that from every point to every point one can draw a straight line that can be continued indefinitely. (Soltanova, 2012, p.14).

Initially, Bahmanyar was a Zoroastrian, but later he converted to Islam. The expression "Ibn Marzuban" ("Governor's Son") in his nasab (an Arabic patronymic indicating the person's heritage), perhaps, indicates that his family goes back to the marzban, the Sassanid rulers of pre-Islamic Azerbaijan. The name and legacy of Bahmanyar are highly honored in present-day Azerbaijan and Iran.

The Vatican archive stores a lot of rare manuscripts from various regions of Iranian Azerbaijan including the province of Zanjan. One of them, the 16th century’s book "Sharh al-Tasrif al-Izzi" (“Explanation of Arabic Morphology by al-Izzi”) by Abd al-Wahhab ibn Ibrahim bin Abd al-Salam al-Zanjani al-Izzi (d. 1257AD) is devoted to the Arabic philology (Zanjani, ca. 1240s). The another work of the same author entitled "Risala" ("Treatise") is a commentary on the Arabic grammar by Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Hilli (Zanjani, ca. 1250s).

 

Al-Izzi
Al-Izzi
The initial pages of the Vatican manuscript of "al-Izzi"
by Abd al-Wahhab al-Zanjani

 

The another work entitled "Muhtasar al-Sihah al-Lughat” (“Shortened Book of the Perfection of Language”) by Abu al-Tana Mahmud bin Ahmad bin Mahmud bin Bakhtiyar al-Zanjani is a short dictionary with explanation of Arabic grammar (Zanjani, 13th century). Arabic philology was regarded as one of the most important sciences in the medieval Muslim East. Arabic was considered sacred because the Qur'an was written in this language.

A number of identified authors are the natives of the town of Suhraward (or Sohrevard) in Iranain Azerbaijan (Zanjan province). The Apostolic Library stores two copies of a Sufi philosophy book entitled “An Nahj al-Masluk fi Siyasat al-Muluk" ("The Righteous Way in Politics of Kings") by Abu Najib Suhrawardi (1097–1168 AD). Abu Najib was the uncle of Abu Hafs Suhrawardi, the founder of the Sufi order Suhrawardiyya. These manuscripts include the translation of Suhrawardi’s original work from Arabic into Turkish (Suhrawardi, 12th century).

"Awarif al-Maarif" ("The Knowledge of the Spiritually Learned") by famous Sufi philosopher Sheikh Shihab al-Din Abu Hafs Omar Suhrawardi (ca.1145-1234 AD), the manuscript of which is kept in the Apostolic Library, is considered a masterpiece of Sufi philosophy (Suhrawardi, ca. 1200-1234). This book was translated into English by Henry Wilberforce Clarke and published as “A Dervish Textbook" in 1891. The book was reprinted by Octagon Press in 1980. (Clarke, 1980).

Abu Hafs Suhrawardi was born in the town of Suhraward, which is recently located in Zanjan province of Iranian Azerbaijan. Later he moved from his native land to Baghdad, where he studied the Qur'an, Hadith and Shafi'i law. Abu Hafs professed a moderate form of Sufism. He was not a theorist of mysticism, but a brilliant teacher and educator (shaykh at-ta'lim vat-tarbiya). The another treatise by Abu Hafs entitled "Zikr Hawwas al-Ishara ila Hawwas al-Ism al-Azam" ("Mentioning Senses of Signs Regarding the Senses of the Great Name") is also stored in the Apostolic Library. (Suhrawardi, 13th century).

The Vatican Library holds the works by Shihab al-Din Ibn Habash Suhrawardi (1154—1191 AD), a Sufi philosopher who is also known as "Shaikh al-Maqtul" ("the Murdered Master"), since he was executed for his philosophical and religious views. Suhrawardi was born in 1154 AD in the town of Suhraward located between the towns of Zanjan and Bijar Garrus in present-day Iranian Azerbaijan. The Apostolic Library preserves his works on philosophy of Sufism. One of these books is called "Hayakil al-Nur" ("The Temples of Light"). This work outlines the issues of comprehending the deity with the help of Sufi esoteric practice. The manuscripts of "Sharh al-Arbain Ism" (“Explanation of Fourty Names”) by Suhrawardi is also stored in the Apostolic Library. Suhrawardi was a founder of the school of Illuminationism (ḥikmat al-ishrāq) that drew upon Zoroastrian and Platonic ideas (Suhrawardi, ca.1180s).

The Vatican archives contain books by the famous medieval scholar Nasir al-Din Tusi (1201-1274 AD), including "Akhlagi-Nasiri" ("Nasirean Ethics"), "Mukhtasar" ("Shortened book"), "Taqvim" ("Calendar") and "Ziji-Elkhani" ("Elkhan's Tables") (Tusi, 13th century, 1235, ca. 1260's, 1272).

Nasir al-Din Tusi (also known as Nasiraddin Tusi) was born in 1201 AD in Tus, Khorasan. As a scientist and all-around genius, he is known for many things: founding an observatory in Maragha (the city in present-day Eastern Azerbaijan province of Iran), interpreting and developing the mathematics of Euclid, predicting the existence of land west of the Atlantic Ocean as well as writing more than 80 influential books in Arabic and Persian about astronomy, geometry, geography, physics, law, history, medicine, philosophy, logic and ethics. Today he is highly revered and honored in Azerbaijan, and several education institutions are named after him, including the Tusi Pedagogical University in Baku (Alakbarov, 2008, p. 48).

What few people know, however, is that Tusi also developed a basic theory of evolution - more than 600 years before Charles Darwin. This theory appears in Tusi's popular work "Akhlagi-Nasiri" ("Nasirean Ethics"), a treatise on ethics in the Greek tradition built upon the 11th century "Tahdhib al-Akhlag of Ibn Miskawayh", which Tusi drafted in prison while being held by the Assassins, a religious terrorist group. He later revised it for his Mongol master (the Mongolian occupation led to his release from prison). "Nasirean Ethics" was translated into English by G.M. Wickens and published by George Allen & Unwin in 1964 (Tusi, 1964).

"Akhlagi-Nasiri" is about the perfection of humans. Tusi divides this perfection into two parts - material and spiritual perfection. He uses the term "takamul", which means "perfection" in Arabic. Tusi makes a comparison between animals and plants and notes that in addition to the ability to move, an important distinctive feature of highly organized animals is a much more diverse response to the impact of the environment, due to the development of the psyche: "There are many differences between the animal and plant species," Tusi wrote. "First of all, the animal kingdom is more complicated. Besides, reason is the most beneficial feature of animals. Owing to reason, they can learn new things and adopt new, non-inherent abilities. For example, the trained horse or hunting falcon...is at a higher point of development in the animal world. The first steps of human perfection begin from here." (Tusi, 1989, pp. 51-52).

Tusi believed that a body of matter is able to change, but is not able to entirely disappear. He wrote: "A body of matter cannot disappear completely. It only changes its form, condition, composition, color and other properties and turns into a different complex or elementary matter." (Tusi, 1989, pp. 47-48 ).

Tusi’s views were close to those of the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus (530-470 BC). Five hundred years later, M. Lomonosov (1711-1765 AD) and Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (1743-1794 AD) created the law of conservation of mass, setting down this very same idea.

Nasir al-Din Tusi has the great merit of solving the fifth postulate of Euclid that two parallel lines intersect in space. He proved that this is not an idle abstraction, but a purely cosmological formulation of the scientific problem, first formulated by Euclid, but solved by Tusi.

Tusi in his writings laid the foundations of celestial mechanics. After 400 years they were rediscovered by Western European scientists. The Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546-1601 AD), repeating Tusi's calculations, compiled a catalog of over 700 stars.

In addition, Tusi is considered the founder of the science of trigonometry. According to M.M. Rozhanskaya: "Trigonometry can be considered an independent science only when it becomes a science about the solution of triangles. Trigonometric treatises contain the classification of rectangular and oblique-angled flat and spherical triangles, as well as algorithms for solving all typical problems, in particular, for solving oblique triangles on three sides and angles. This is contained in the "Treatise on the Full Quadrilateral" by Nasir al-Din al-Tusi". (Rozhanskaya, 1976, pp.188).

The scientific activity of Tusi was closely related with Maragaha city. The author of the 14th century Hamdullah Qazvini (1280-1349 AD) writes: "Maragha refers to the fourth climate, longitude 82 ° 70 ', and latitude 37 ° 20' .This is a large city and before it was the capital of Azerbaijan. The climate is temperate but humid due to the fact that the north of the city is closed by Mount Sahand. The people here are white-faced, Turkic and mostly profess Hanafi Islam… Outside of Maragha, the astronomer Nasir ad-Din Tusi erected an observatory on the order of Hulagu-khan, but now it lies in ruins.” (Qazvini, 1983, p. 49).

A number of astrolabes and globes of Earth and sky necessary for astronomical research were designed and manufactured at the Maragha Observatory. One of the astrolabes made in 1279 AD in this observatory is now kept in the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon in Dresden, Germany. The Maragha Observatory had a significant impact on the development of astronomy in other countries of the world. It served as an example for the Beijing Observatory in China and Ulugbek Observatory in Uzbekistan. (Rossabi, 2014, p. 281).

The scholars from different regions of Azerbaijan including Fakhr al-Din Maragahi and Shams al-Din Shirvani worked at the Maragha Observatory. Fakhr al-Din Ihlati came from Tiflis (the present-day capital of Georgia). Many scholars from the Near and Middle East and China worked at the Maragha Observatory as well. The observatory had a rich library and the most advanced astronomical equipment for that time.

The library of the Maragha Observatory was so rich that it was often compared to the famous Alexandria Library. This library treasured hundreds of thousands of books in different languages and from various countries. The scholars of the observatory compiled scientific treatises, maps of the starry sky and astronomical tables. The works written in this Observatory were partially translated into Latin and became known in the Western Europe. In 1594 AD, the Arabic text of "Euclidean Geometry" by Tusi was published in Rome. It was among the first Arabic-language books printed in Europe (Tusi, 1594).

The Vatican Apostolic Library stores the manuscript of "Risala al-Sharafiyya fi al-Nisab al-Ta'lifiyya" ("The Sharafian Treatise on Musical Proportions") by Safi al-Din Urmavi, which is dedicated to musicology (Urmavi, 1267). Safi al-Din Urmavi (1230-1294 AD) was born in the city of Urmia, which is currently the center of Western Azerbaijan province (ostan) in Iran. The Arab geographer Yaqut al-Hamavi (1179–1229 AD) writes: "Urmia is a large and ancient city in Azerbaijan. The distance between it and the lake of the same name is about three or four miles. This city is claimed by some to be the homeland of Zardusht (Zoroaster), the prophet of fire-worshipers." (Hamawi, 1983).

Safi al-Din Urmavi created an outstanding work in the field of musicology "Risala al-Sharafiyya fi al-Nisab al-Ta'lifiyya" ("The Sharafian Treatise on Musical Proportions") and a treatise on the musical tones "Kitab al-Advar" ("The Book about the Circles"). In Iran and the Arab countries Safi al-Din Urmavi is considered the father of mugham (maqam). Urmavi developed the musical genre of mugham, perfected musical terminology and the theory of scales (Neubauer, 2007).

The heritage of Urmavi is studied and honored in many countries of the Near and Middle East, including Azerbaijan and Iran. Encyclopaedia Iranica in the article “Music of Azerbaijan” asserts that «the art music of Azerbaijan is connected with the Irano-Arabo-Turkish art of the maqām, of which the great theoreticians were notably Ṣafī-al-dīn Ormavī (d. 693/1294) and ʿAbd-al-Qāder b. Ḡaybī Marāḡī (d. 838/1435), who were originally from Urmia and Marāḡa in Azerbaijan» (During, 1988, p. 255).

Mahmud Shabistari (1287-1320 AD) who is known also as Shabestari and Shabustari is among the most distinguished scholars and thinkers of Azerbaijan. Shabistari was born and received his education in the town of Shabistar near Tabriz. The13th century geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi writes about this city: "Tabriz is the most famous city in Azerbaijan. It is a crowded, beautiful city with walls built of brick and limestone. A lot of rivers flow through the city, which is surrounded by gardens... The houses of Tabriz are built of painted red brick and limestone and they look beautiful" (Hamawi, 1983).

Shabistari is the author of the phlosophical poems "Gulshani-Raz" ("Rose Garden of Secrets") and "Saadatnameh" ("Book of Happiness").The Apostolic Library treasures the medieval translation of the “Gulshani-Raz” from Persian into Ottoman Turkish. This work was translated by Nahifi Mehmed Efendi (d.1203 AH / 1788—1789 AD) (Shabistari, ca.1311.)

Shabistari argued that all living beings are derived from inanimate matter. He believed that animals originated from plants, and the plants came from minerals, and the minerals originated from the simplest primary elements of matter. He also claimed that Human being comes from the higher animals. Shabistari argued that the internal organs, as well as body structure, psyche and behavior of man and monkey are very close to each other. Shabistari wrote: "Know that when the primary elements joined each other, minerals sprang up. Then the plants emerged from minerals, and the animals emerged from the plants, and the man emerged from the developed animals ... There are many intermediate links between animals and the man, but the main link is the monkey, all body organs of which are similar to human ones” (Ismailov, 1982, p. 178).

Apostolic Library stores a Persian-Azerbaijani (Turkic) dictionary "al-Sihah al-Ajamiyyah” (“The Perfection of the Persian Language") by famous philologist Muhammad ibn Hindushah Nakhchivani. This is the earliest known dictionary of Azerbaijani Turkic language, and one of the most ancient Persian dictionaries. The book was written in 1328 AD, and includes a Persian-Azerbaijani (Azerbaijani Turkic) dictionary with 5000 words and a course of Persian grammar. In addition, the dictionary contains separate phrases and expressions in Persian and Azerbaijani. The author notes that he borrowed the structure of the dictionary from the 10th century Arabic lexicographer Ismail al-Jovhari. The dictionary consists of three parts: the introduction, the Persian-Azerbaijani dictionary and the Persian grammar. The first and third parts are written in Arabic, while the dictionary itself is in Persian and Azerbaijani Turkic. In the introduction, the author writes that this dictionary is intended for non-Persians (Turks) who study Persian. The linguistic material presented in the book is interesting from the point of view of studying the history of Azerbaijani Turkic language (Nakhchivani, 1328).

Muhammad ibn Hindushah was born in the ancient city of Nakhichevan, which is now located in the Republic of Azerbaijan. The author was an official in the financial department at the court of the Jalairid. Muhammad ibn Hindushah was a friend with Khoja Giyasaddin, the son of the famous scholar Fazlullah Rashid al-Din. Ibn Hindushah in his works expressed the ideas of Rashidaddin and his circle. Around 1361 AD, he composed the work entitled "Dastur al-Katib fi Tayin al-Maratib" ("Guide to the Scribe in Determining Major Degrees"). This essay is written in the form of letters and answers, and contains a large and valuable material on the tax system, the forms of land ownership and the situation of the people in Azerbaijan in the 14th century.

In the Vatican Apostolic Library it is also found a number of treatises of scholars from Shirvan, a historical region covering the eastern part of present-day Republic of Azerbaijan. One of these works is “Nafhat al-Yaman” (“The Breeze from Yaman”) by Ahmad bin Muhammad Shirvani, the anthology of Arabic poetry (Shirvani, 1811) .

Among most important manuscripts of the library there is the work "Ravzat al-itr” ("Aromatic Rose Garden") by Muhammad ibn Mahmud al-Haj al-Shirvani (1375-1450). This scholar was born in Shirvan, and later moved to Ottoman Empire where he compiled a number of books in Ottoman Turkish including the comprehensive work on ophthalmology “Murshid” (“Tutor”). Besides, he is the author of “Tohfeyi-Muradi” (“Murad’s Gift”) - a book about healing properties of minerals and jewels. The book was devoted to II Murad (1421-1451 AD). Besides, Muhammad Shirvani translated from Arabic and Persian into Turkish a number of important books on medicine and pharmacy.

The book "Ravzat al-Itr” ("Aromatic Rose Garden") by Muhammad ibn Mahmud al-Shirvani, which is kept in the Vatican Apostolic Library, lists a large number of different recipes that tell about the methods of making medicines from plants, minerals and animals. This manuscript contains about 2000 prescriptions related to the treatment of many diseases including the inflammatory diseases of the kidneys and urinary tracts, which today are known as cystitis, pyelonephritis and glomerulonephritis. Besides, the author lists the recipes for preparation of simple ("mufradat") and complex ("murakkabat") medicines for treatment of the diseases of gastrointestinal tract, heart, vessels and joints, and the organs of sight and hearing, as well as medicines against diseases of the skin and mucous membranes (Shirvani, ca. 1325-1345).

As a result of the present study, it have been studied a total of 73 Turkic manuscripts (Vat. Turc. 376-449), which had not been thoroughly investigated and described before. Among them there are a number of scientific works written by the medieval Ottoman and Azerbaijani authors. Some of them are described below.

One of the interesting manuscripts is the work by Baba Hasan bin Muhammad Shirvani "Kitabi-be Shajare be Shomare min Nujum" ("The Book about Secret Symbols and Numbers in Astrology"). The book was written in Turkish in the 16th century AD, and is dedicated to the khan (king) of the Crimean Khanate Mengli Geray Khan Ibn Haji Geray Khan (reigned in 1467, 1469-1475 and1478-1515 AD). The book narrates about astronomy and occult sciences: astrology, fortune telling and numerology (the sciences of "jafr" and "raml"). The manuscript was copied in February 22, 1573 AD (Shirvani, ca. 1469-1475).

The work by Salah al-Din Mustafa bin Shajan Sururi "Tibb lughatda" ("Medical Dictionary") is a Turkish translation of the book "Mujiz fi al-Tibb” by the famous Arab physician Ibn al-Nafis (1213-1288 AD). The manuscript was copied in 971 H (1654 AD) (Sururi, 1563).

In 1242 AD, Ibn al-Nafis was the first to describe the pulmonary circulation. 300 years later, this scientific phenomenon was rediscovered in Europe by Michael Servetus. Ibn al-Nafis was first to describe also the capillary circulation, anticipating the ideas formulated by Marcello Malpighi in 1661 AD. Ibn al-Nafis is the author of many works, but the most famous of them is "Mujiz fi al-Tibb" (Haddad and Khairallah, 1939).

 

DISCUSSION

The written heritage of Azerbaijan is stored in numerous libraries of Europe and Asia. Thousands of valuable manuscripts created by scientists, thinkers and poets from Medieval Azerbaijan are kept in different archives of the world. Manuscripts related to Azerbaijan are stored in such countries as Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, India, etc. They also are found in famous libraries and archives of Vatican, Rome, Florence, London, Paris, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Uppsala, Dublin, Vienne, Berlin, Dresden, Prague, Sarajevo, etc.

Manuscripts from Azerbaijan got to the Vatican in the same way as other Oriental manuscripts. The popes of Rome constantly updated their library with books from all over the world, including the Muslim East. Among Arabic, Turkic and Persian manuscripts collected for the library there were also manuscripts from Azerbaijan. Since the manuscripts from Azerbaijan and other regions of the Islamic world were written mainly in Persian, Arabic and Turkic (Azeri, Jagatai, Uigur, Tatar, Ottoman, etc.), all handwritten Muslim texts entered the European libraries under the names "Persian", "Turkish" and "Arabic" manuscripts. The exception were manuscripts written in the languages ​​of non-Muslim peoples of the region, such as Greeks, Armenians, Georgians, Assyrians, Copts, Jews, etc.

A few words about the geographical scope of this study. The paper is devoted to manuscripts written by scholars of medieval Azerbaijan. Since the political, historical and geographical boundaries of Azerbaijan were repeatedly changed at different periods of history, the modern definition of the term "Azerbaijan" was taken as a basis in the present study. Today, the word "Azerbaijan" means the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, which includes the historical regions of Arran and Shirvan, as well as Iranian Azerbaijan consisting mainly of four provinces: Eastern Azerbaijan, Western Azerbaijan, Ardabil and Zanjan (Minhan, 2002, p.1765; Rahimli, 2011, p.50).

During the pre-Islamic period, Azerbaijan (ancient Atropatene), Arran and Shirvan (ancient Caucasian Albania) were considered as separate countries. This situation continued also in the Middle Ages, although starting from the first centuries of Islam, some authors tended to unite these neighboring countries under the common name of "Azerbaijan".

For example, Hamdallah Qazvini (1281-1349) writes that the length of the province of Azerbaijan from Baku to Khalkhal is 95 farsakhs. Thus, in this passage the city of Baku is attributed to Azerbaijan. At that time Baku was the capital of the Shirvanshah state, and therefore this city is described in the chapter dedicated to Shirvan (Qazvini,1983, pp.38, 54). Yaqut al-Hamavi (d. 1229) and a number of other medieval authors refer Mughan and Taylasan (Talyshan) provinces, as well as the cities of Nakhchivan, Ordubad and Barda (Barda'a) to Azerbaijan (Hamawi,1983, p.21). In the pre-Islamic era, Barda was the capital of Arran (Caucasian Albania). Now the territories mentioned above are the parts of the Republic of Azerbaijan. In the Russian documents of the 18th century, the Karabakh Khanate and all other Turkic khanates of the South Caucasus are also referred to Azerbaijan (Avalov, 1901, pp. 149-150). Started from 1918 AD, Arran and Shirvan are the integral parts of the Republic of Azerbaijan, which is also known as North (Northern) or Caucasian Azerbaijan.

Regarding Iranian Azerbaijan Akram Rahimli writes: "The province of Azerbaijan has been one of four provinces in Iran since 1828. In earlier times its territory covered Hamadan district (Sava, Arak and Karaj) in the south, the districts of Zanjan and Gazvin in the south-east, Marand district in the north and residential districts in the west, up to the Turkish border. Later, this administrative and territorial unit was somewhat reduced. Under election regulations adopted in 1906, the province consisted of the districts of Tabriz, Urmiya, Khoy, Maku, Maraga, Binab, Miyandoab (Qoşaçay), Sovujbulag, Marand, Ahar, Ardabil, Astara, Khalkhal, Sarab, Miyana and Sayingala" (Rahimli, 2011, p.50).

In this study the territorial realities of today are taken as a basis, that is, the geographical definition of "Azerbaijan" in this paper refers to the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan and four provinces of Iran: Estern Azerbaijan, Western Azerbaijan, Ardabil and Zanjan.

It is necessary to emphasize that unlike modern concepts of "Azerbaijani language" and "Azerbaijani people", the concept of "medieval Azerbaijani manuscripts" is neither ethnic, nor linguistic, but purely territorial. We are talking about manuscripts created in the Middle Ages in Azerbaijan or by natives of Azerbaijan. Medieval authors from Azerbaijan were not only ethnic Azerbaijanis (Azeri Turks). Among them were representatives of various ethnic and religious groups. Regardless of the ethnic and religious affiliation of the authors, the written heritage of medieval Azerbaijan reached our days mainly in Arabic, Persian and Turkic (Azeri and Ottoman), which were the principal literary languages in the Muslim East at that time.

Many valuable manuscripts of Azerbaijan were created in the Golden Age of Islam, when science and culture in Azerbaijan reached its peak. The Islamic Renaissance or Golden Age of Islam is a historical period from the middle of the 8th century to the middle of the 13th century, at the beginning of which the Arab Caliphate was the largest state of its time.

Revival in culture and science, which occurred throughout the Muslim world manifested itself also in Azerbaijan, many cities of which were important cultural centers of the region. After collapse of the Caliphate and during the 12th – 16th centuries, the cities of Azerbaijan were capitals of such empires as the Ilkhanid, Karakoyunlu, Akkoyunlu and early Safavid states. The most important scientific centers of Azerbaijan at that time were located in such cities as Shamakhi, Ganja, Tabriz, Urmiya, Maragha, Nakhchivan, Barda, Khoy, Zanjan, Darband, Beylaqan, etc.

The polyethnic environment of the Caliphate led to formation of a single cultural space, which continued to exist even after the collapse of this huge empire. During the Islamic Renaissance such sciences as mathematics, medicine, philosophy, physics, chemistry reached its peak. Islamic culture, stretching from southern Spain to China, absorbed the achievements of all peoples living in these territories. Islamic civilization adopted and developed the knowledge of the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Babylonians and Indians achieving breakthroughs that prepared the basis for the Renaissance (Alakbarli, 2007).

Manuscripts created in medieval Azerbaijan are a part of both the Islamic and the world heritage. Since the written legacy of every country or people is an integral part of the cultural heritage of the entire Humankind, it must be carefully studied and protected for the future generations.

 

CONCLUSIONS

The main objective of the present study was to identify and describe the manuscripts of scholars from medieval Azerbaijan, which are stored in the Vatican Apostolic Library. As a result of the present study, a total of 80 handwritten books related to Azerbaijan have been discovered in the archives of this library. Among them there are works on philosophy, religion and different fields of science such as astronomy, mathematics, medicine, pharmacy and philology.

The list of identified sources includes the books by such distinguished scholars as Bahmanyar al-Azerbaijani (died 1067 AD), Nasiraddin al-Tusi (1201-1274 AD), Shihab al-Din Ibn Habash Suhrawardi (1154—1191AD), Abu Hafs Omar Suhrawardi (c.1145-1234 AD), Safi al-Din Urmavi (1230-1294 AD), Mahmud Shabistari (1287-1320 AD), Muhammad ibn Hindushah Nakhchivani (14th century AD), Muhammad ibn Mahmud al-Shirvani (1375-1450 AD), etc. Some of these sources are briefly described in the present paper. Biographic information about the authors of these works and description of their contribution to science is provided as well.

Along with scientific texts, it was discovered many manuscripts with poems by Nizami Ganjavi, Ovhadi Maragai, Imad al-Din Nasimi, Muhammad Fuzuli, Mahmud Shabistari, Shah Ismail Khatai, Sururi Ajami and other poets from Azerbaijan or related to Azerbaijan. However, the poetic works are not analyzed in the present paper.

The results of this study show that the Vatican Apostolic Library stores many valuable sources representing the cultural heritage of Azerbaijan. Identifying and studying these sources can contribute to our knowledge of the history of science in Azerbaijan and worldwide.

 

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