Medical Knowledge in ʿAlī Ufuḳī’s Musical Notebook (Mid-17th Century)

In: Intellectual History of the Islamicate World
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  • 1 Orient-Institut Istanbul

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Captured by Tatars as a young man and sold to the Sultan’s court, the Polish-Ottoman court musician and interpreter ʿAlī Ufuḳī (Albert/Wojciech Bobowski, c. 1610–1675) was a bicultural personality with widespread interest in different areas of learning. His priceless notation collection (MS Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Turc 292) also contains a wealth of medical texts both European and Ottoman, copied or excerpted from existing sources, as well as personal notes and case descriptions. European and Ottoman medical knowledge is presented side by side as encountered and found worthwhile by ʿAlī Ufuḳī, who evidently had access to drugs and treated at least himself. Among a group of personal observations, case studies from plague outbreaks of the 1640s stand out for their historical importance. MS Turc 292 is the personal document of a transcultural personality capable of benefiting from a diverse environment that encouraged transfer and exchange of knowledge.

  • 2

    Neudecker, The Turkish Bible Translation, pp. 365–382.

  • 12

    Rütten, “Early Modern Medicine,” p. 62; Shefer-Mossensohn, Ottoman Medicine, likewise states that in early modern Ottoman society, medicine was “a subject of high intellectual status and at the same time also a popular, oral, and empiric activity” (p. 3) and that “medical knowledge was part of the package that made an Ottoman intellectual” (p. 193).

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  • 26

    Shefer-Mossensohn, “A Tale of Two Discourses,” p. 3.

  • 28

    Ben-Zaken, Cross-Cultural Scientific Exchanges, 27. He goes on to describe a “dialectical interplay of ideas, fears, and emotions,” in which it is easy to imagine ʿAlī Ufuḳī as an actor. Those processes were most probably not as straightforward, frequent and deep as Ben-Zaken suggests, but his statement quoted here can be applied to the special case of ʿAlī Ufuḳī and his personal connections. See also Haug, “Being More than the Sum of One’s Parts.”

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  • 31

    Sarı and Zülfikar, “The Paracelsusian Influence,” p. 158.

  • 33

    Ibid., pp. 72–76.

  • 38

    Eamon, Science and the Secrets of Nature, pp. 168–193; Mainardi, “Fioravanti;” Palmer, “Pharmacy in the Republic of Venice,” pp. 100–117.

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  • 40

    Fioravanti, Della Fisica, p. 169. ʿAlī Ufuḳī obviously made a copying error.

  • 41

    Fioravanti, Della Fisica, p. 170.

  • 44

    Fioravanti, Della Fisica, p. 2. In his Dello Specchio di scienzia universale (p. 360), Fioravanti claims to have written I dodeci rimedij secreti della nonciata. See Eamon, The Professor of Secrets, p. 299. This work, nonexistent according to Eamon (ibid.) is referenced in MS Turc 292, including the capricious orthography of “Annunciata.”

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  • 47

    Bachour, Oswaldus Crollius und Daniel Sennert im frühneuzeitlichen Istanbul, pp. 162–176, 175.

  • 51

    Cicanci, “Médecins grecs,” pp. 38, 47, 55; Philliou, “Phanariots,” p. 457.

  • 54

    Bachour, Oswaldus Crollius und Daniel Sennert im frühneuzeitlichen Istanbul, p. 40.

  • 58

    Yakıt, “Akşemseddin’in Eserlerinin İstanbul Kütüphanelerindeki Yazma Nüshaları Üzerinde Bir İnceleme,” p. 25.

  • 61

    Bachour, Oswaldus Crollius und Daniel Sennert im frühneuzeitlichen Istanbul, pp. 52, 133, 199, 216, 317; Günergun, 14.–17. Yüzyıllarda Osmanlı İmparatorluğunda Kullanılan Anorganik İlâçlar, p. 48.

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  • 63

    Musa Hamon, ed. İzgöer, 16. Yüzyıl Osmanlı Tabibi Musa bin Hamon ve Diş Tababetine Katkısı, pp. 20, 110. Comparing the substances used in this prescription to the state of the art in Musa Hamon’s time may be a lead worth following.

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  • 65

    Bobowski ed. Cevher, Hâzâ Mecmû’a-i Sâz ü Söz, pp. 120–122.

  • 66

    Varlık, “New Science and Old Sources,” p. 206.

  • 67

    Ibid., pp. 195, 201 ff. and passim points out the imbalance between Europe and the Middle East in plague historiography and analysis.

  • 71

    Murphey, Ottoman Warfare, p. 114.

  • 72

    Bobovius, Serai Enderum, pp. 32–34. MS Harley 3409, p. 22 f.; Fisher and Fisher, “Topkapı Sarayı in the Mid-Seventeenth Century,” p. 35 f.

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  • 74

    Shefer-Mossensohn, “A Tale of Two Discourses,” p. 1.

  • 75

    Murphey, “Ottoman Medicine and Transculturalism,” p. 37.

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