Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Asiatische Studien - Études Asiatiques

Zeitschrift der Schweizerischen Asiengesellschaft - Revue de la Société Suisse-Asie

Editor-in-Chief: Suter, Rafael

Online
ISSN
2235-5871
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Cinnabar, Calomel and the Art of kushtasāzī: Mercurial Preparations in Unani Medicine

Claudia Preckel
Published Online: 2015-12-02 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/asia-2015-1042

Abstract

This paper examines the role of mercury in “Graeco-Islamic” medicine, which is referred to as Ṭibb-e yūnānī or unani medicine in South Asia. Having its origin in Ancient Greece, unani medicine spread to the Arabic countries and from the fifteenth century onwards to India. With its main roots in the Greek and Latin sources, the most influential works of ‘ilm al-adviya (pharmacology) were translated into Arabic, Persian and Urdu. Mercury (Arabic: zībaq; Persian: sīmāb; Urdu: sīmāb and pāra) played an important role in all Indian traditions of medicine, and had a prominent place in unani medicine. This paper highlights the historical use of mercury in Indian, Persian and Urdu medical literature, the discourses on its efficacy and some of the important mercurial preparations presented in a selection of unani works. Further, the use of mercury as a single and compound drug and its role in the treatment of different diseases will be analysed.

Keywords: unani medicine; mercury; cinnabar; calomel; kushta (calyx); medical history

References

  • Ajmal Khān (1992): Ṣinā‘at at-taklīs (The Art of Calcination). 3rd ed. Lāhōr: Idāra-ye Maṭbu‘āt-e Sulaymānī.Google Scholar

  • Alavi, Seema (2008): Islam and Healing: Loss and Recovery of an Indo-Muslim Medical Tradition. [2007]. New Delhi: Permanent Black.Google Scholar

  • Arnold, David (2002): Colonizing the Body: State Medicine and Epidemic Disease in Nineteenth-Century India. [1993].. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar

  • Arzānī, Muḥammad Akbar (2008): Qarābādīn-e Qādirī: Urdū tarjama (The Pharmacopoeia of Qādir: Urdu translation), Nā’ī Dehlī: CCRUM.Google Scholar

  • Attewell, Guy (2007): Refiguring Unani Tibb: Plural Healing in Late Colonial India. New Delhi et al.: Orient Longman.Google Scholar

  • Azmi, Altaf A. (1995): Basic Concepts of Unani Medicine. A Critical Study. New Delhi: Jamia Hamdard.Google Scholar

  • Aqīlī, Khorasānī (1844): Makhzān al-adwiya. (Store-house of Medicines). Vols. II Calcutta: Reprint Teheran 1355–1371 h.s. (1976–1992).

  • Bulāqī Das (1892): Iksīr-e kushta (The Elixir of kushta). Delhī: Maṭbaʻ Mewār Prīs (Mewar Press).Google Scholar

  • Central Council for Research on Unani Medicine (CCRUM) (2006): National Formulary of Unani Medicine, Part I. Reprint. New Delhi: Government of India, Ministry of Health (Department of AYUSH).Google Scholar

  • Central Council for Research on Unani Medicine (CCRUM) (2007): National Formulary of Unani Medicine, Part II, Vol. I. New Delhi: Government of India, Ministry of Health (Department of AYUSH).Google Scholar

  • Central Council for Research on Unani Medicine (CCRUM) (2012): Standard Unani Medical Terminology. New Delhi: Government of India, Ministry of Health (Department of AYUSH). In collaboration with World Health Organization Country Office for India.Google Scholar

  • Central Council for Research on Unani Medicine (CCRUM) (2010): The Unani Pharmacopoeia of India. Part II, Vol. II. 1st ed. New Delhi: Government of India, Ministry of Health (Department of AYUSH).Google Scholar

  • Dehlvi, Mohsin (2011): Individual Profiles of Herbs, Minerals and Animal Products. New Delhi: Dehlvi Naturals.Google Scholar

  • Dutt, Uday Chand (1922): The Materia Medica of the Hindus. Rev. ed. Calcutta: Dass.

  • Elgood, Cyrill (1931): “Translation of a Persian Monograph on syphilis entitled “Risála-i-Átishak” by Imád-ul-Din Maḥmúd Bin Mas‘úd Bin Maḥmúd-ul-Ṭabíb”. Annals of Medical History 3: 465–486.Google Scholar

  • Fleming, John (1810): A Catalogue of Indian Medicinal Plants and Drugs, with their names in Hindustani and Sanskrit Language. Calcutta: Hindustani Press.Google Scholar

  • Ḥamīd ud-Dīn (1902): ‘Aqd as-sīmāb (The Binding of Mercury). Jaunpūr.

  • Ghulam Nabi, Hakim and Fakhr-du-Din (1879): Urdoo Manual of Venereal Diseases: A concsie (sic!) history and description of those affections and their treatment, both English and Oriental. (Risāla-ye dāfi‘-ye āteshak: Treatise on Syphilis). Lahore.

  • Harrison, Mark (2013): “From Bazaar Medicine to Hospital Medicine: Calomel, India and the British Empire, c. 1750-c. 1800”. In: Medical Encounters in British India. Edited by Deepak Kumar and Raj Sekhar Basu: New Delhi: OUP, 61–79.Google Scholar

  • Hassan, A.Y. al-/Ahmed, Maqbul/ Iskander, A.Z. (2001): Science and Technology in Islam: the Applied Sciences (The Different Aspects of Islamic Cultures; 4). Paris: United Nations Educational.Google Scholar

  • Hazārah Khān (1902): Kushtajāt-e Hazārī (The kushtas of Hazārah). Lāhōr: Maṭba‘-ye Shams.Google Scholar

  • Hoodbhoy, Pervez A. (1992): Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar

  • Ibn Sīnā, Abū ‘Alī: al-Qānūn fi-ṭ-ṭibb (1593): Kitāb 1–5. Rūm. Saab Digital Library, American University of Beirut. http://ddc.aub.edu.lb/projects/saab/avicenna/ (24/07/2015)

  • Irvine, Robert Hamilton (1848): A Short Account of the Materia Medica of Patna. Calcutta: W. Ridsdale, Military Orphan Press.Google Scholar

  • Irvine, Robert Hamilton (1841): Some Account of the General and Medical Topography of Ajmeer. Calcutta: W. Thacker & Co.Google Scholar

  • Kurz, Susanne, Reichmuth, Stefan (2012): “Zwischen Standardisierung und Literalisierung: Der Fallbericht in der graeco-islamischen Medizin”. In: Der Ärztliche Fallbericht. Epistemische Grundlagen und textuelle Strukturen dargestellter Beobachtung. Edited by Rudolf Behrens and Carsten Zelle. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 227–258.Google Scholar

  • Lōdhī, Ḥakīm Muḥammad Anwār Khān (s.d.): Makhzān al-mufradāt (The Treasurehouse of Single Drugs). Lahōr: Muḥammad Bashīr & Sons.Google Scholar

  • Meer, Tufayl Aḥmad (1959): Tuḥfa-ye Khānī. (Gift to the Ruler). Madras: Government Oriental Manuscripts Library.

  • Nadkarni, Krishanrao M. (2007 [1908]): Dr. K.M. Nadkarni’s Indian Materia Medica: With Ayurvedic, Unani-Tibbi, Siddha, Allopathic, Homeopathic, Naturopathic & Home Remedies, Appendices & Indexes. 3rd ed. Edited by K.M. Nadkarni, revised and enlarged by A.K Nadkarni. Vols. 1–2. Bombay: Popular Prakashan.Google Scholar

  • National Institute for Industrial Research (NIIR) (ed.) (s.d.): Hand Book [sic!] On Unani Medicines with Formulae, Processes, Uses and Analysis. Delhi: Asia Pacific Business Press.Google Scholar

  • Platts, John (1884): A Dictionary of Urdu, Classical Hindi, and English. 2 vols. London: W.H. Allen & Co.Google Scholar

  • Preckel, Claudia (2015): “Yūnānī Medicine”. In: Encyclopedia of Indian Religions. Islam. Edited by Arvind Sharma. New Delhi: Springer India.Google Scholar

  • Rampūrī, Muḥammad Najm ul-Ghanī (s.d.): Khazā’in al-adviya: sā’inklōpīdiyā āf īsṫirn mēdīsīn (Treasures of Medicine: Encyclopaedia of Eastern Medicine). Vol. 1–4. Lāhōr: Muḥammad Bashīr & Sons.Google Scholar

  • Sharmā, Krishan Kinwar Dutt (s.d.): Kanz at-taklīs (Treasure of Calcination). Lāhōr: Idāra-yi Maṭbu‘āt-e Sulaymānī.Google Scholar

  • Speziale, Fabrizio (2009a): “India. xxxiii. Indo-Muslim physicians”. In: Encyclopaedia Iranica, online edition, www.iranicaonline.org.

  • Speziale, Fabrizio (2009b): “Islamic or Yunani? Past and Present of Muslim Traditional Medicine in the Deccan Sultanates”. In: Global Medical Geography. In Honour of Prof. Yola Verhasselt. Edited by Rais Akhtar and Nilofar Izhar. Jaipur et. al.: Rawat, 277–305.Google Scholar

  • Speziale, Fabrizio (2009c): “Šarīf Khān”, in: Encyclopaedia Iranica, online edition, www.iranicaonline.org.

  • Speziale, Fabrizio (2010): Soufisme, religion, et medicine en Islam indien. Paris: Karthala.Google Scholar

  • Swiderski, Richard M (2008): Quicksilver: A History of the Use, Lore and Effects of Mercury. Jefferson et al.: McFarland & Co.Google Scholar

  • Tariq, Mohd et al. (2013): “Introduction to Kushta: a Herbo-Mineral Formulation”. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Scientific Innovation 2.1: 14–17.Google Scholar

  • Tariq, Mohd. (2014): The Science and Art of Kashtasazi (Taklees): Basic concepts and analytical Theory. Saarbrücken: LAP Lambert Academic Publ.Google Scholar

  • Ṭāriq, Naṣīr ud-Dīn (Ḥakīm) (s.d.). Taḥqīqāt khawāṣṣ al-adwīya (Inquiries into the qualities of medicines) Lāhōr: Maktaba Daniyāl.Google Scholar

  • White, David M. (1996): The Alchemical Body: Siddha Traditions in Medieval India. Chicago et. al.: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar

  • Wujastyk, Dagmar (2013): “Perfect Medicine: Mercury in Sanskrit Medical Literature”. Asian Medicine 18: 15–40.Google Scholar

  • Ẓillur Raḥmān, Ḥakīm Sayyid (2001): “Unani Medicine in India: Its Origin and Fundamental Concepts”. In: History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization, Vol. 4, 2. Medicine and life sciences in India. Edited by Bidare V. Subbarayappa. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 292–325.Google Scholar

  • Ẓillur Raḥmān, Ḥakīm Sayyid (2009): Jadīd yūnānī dawāsāzī (New/Modern Unani Pharmacy). New Delhi: Idara Kitab-ul-Shifa.Google Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2015-12-02

Published in Print: 2015-12-01


Funding: The project was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). I am indebted to Mohsin Dehlvi (Delhi) for reading an earlier draft of this paper and offering me his expertise.


Citation Information: Asiatische Studien - Études Asiatiques, Volume 69, Issue 4, Pages 901–932, ISSN (Online) 2235-5871, ISSN (Print) 0004-4717, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/asia-2015-1042.

Export Citation

©2015 by De Gruyter.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in