De Materia Medica served as the primary text of pharmacology until the fifteenth century

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Title page of De Materia Medica by Pedanius Dioscorides, 1554. (Image: University of Virginia) Title page of De Materia Medica by Pedanius Dioscorides, 1554. (Image: University of Virginia)

Pedanius Dioscorides (ca. 40-90 AD), was a physician in the Roman army, who wrote about herbs in the first century discussing the characteristics of each plant and its use.  His monumental work, written in five volumes in the year 77 AD, known by its Latin title, De Materia Medica (On Medical Materials), described how to make medicine from up to five hundred plants, explaining where to find each plant, how to harvest it, how to prepare it as a drug, and which ailments it will cure.

The book was translated into Arabic in the mid-ninth century at the famous translation institute in Baghdad, the Bayt al-Hikma (House of Wisdom). The original Greek manuscript, subsequently translated into several languages, described most drugs in use at the time, and served as the primary text of pharmacology until the end…

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A prince of the Islamic world: Aga Khan – A must read

I am also not a follower of the Ismaili sect of Islam of which Prince Karim Aga Khan is the spiritual leader like the author of this blog, which I am sharing with my friends and followers as I am one of the great admirers of Aga Khan and his contributions in education, health, art, culture, heritage and science. A must read !!!

It is an old blog written on 6th November 2006.

Ismailimail

A prince of the Islamic world

Last week, Prince Charles of Great Britain and Prince Karim Aga Khan of the Islamic world paid a rare royal visit to a remote organic village Nank Soq in Skardu, and the under restoration Altit Fort in Hunza. Yes, ‘Prince of the Islamic world’ because in one’s humble views he and his family have contributed more for the well-being of the world, and the world of Islam, more than any other Muslim prince, king, prime minister, president, general, or philanthropist in the contemporary history of the Islamic world.

Before one says more let me make it clear that one does carry Ismail as his second name, and traces his roots to the northern areas but the author is not a follower of the Ismaili sect of Islam of which Prince Karim Aga Khan is the spiritual leader. One says this only as a humble…

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Connections: Shahnama Centre for Persian Studies – Pembroke College (University of Cambridge), Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Sir Isaac Newton Trust, Iran Heritage Foundation, British Academy.

Ismailimail

Shahnama or The Book of Kings by Abu’l-Qasim Hasan Firdausi and its crucial role in the formation of the Iranian cultural identity throughout the ages to present day. The text of the Shahnama, based on the ancient Iranian mythology, was completed in 1010 and is the longest poem ever written by a single author in the whole history of humankind.

"The enthronement of Hurmuzd,” folio from an early 14th century “CAMA” Shahnama manuscript. On temporary loan to the Shahnama Centre from the collection of the late Dr. Mehdi Gharavi. Image courtesy Ameneh Gharavi and Dean Entekabi “The enthronement of Hurmuzd,” folio from an early 14th century “CAMA” Shahnama manuscript. On temporary loan to the Shahnama Centre from the collection of the late Dr. Mehdi Gharavi. Image courtesy Ameneh Gharavi and Dean Entekabi

Global philanthropist Bita Daryabari and speakers from around the globe gathered to celebrate the official opening of the Shahnama Centre for Persian Studies at Pembroke College in Cambridge, England. (Pembroke College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England.) The $2 million (US) endowment by Daryabari ensured the creation of the Centre…

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The Aga Khan Museum’s collection includes a folio from the epic Persian poem, Shahnama

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Folio from the Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp (ca. 1532).Image: Archnet Folio from the Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp (ca. 1532).
Image: Archnet

The Shahnama was composed by the Persian poet Firdausi (d. 1020) around the year 1000. It tells the story of ancient Iran (Persia) from the time of Creation to the conquest of Islam in the seventh century. The history of Iran is divided into three successive dynasties: the Pishdadiyan (the early legendary shahs, who established civilization and fought against the forces of evil),  the Kayanids, and the Sassanians (the last glorious dynasty to rule Iran before the advent of Islam).*

Partly legend, partly historic, it is also a manual on kingship, a collection of heroic tales, and a long essay on wisdom, love, warfare, and magic. The epic poem helped preserve Persian traditions, folklore, and oral literature — becoming the Persian literary standard — and it retains considerable influence in the storytelling tradition of Iran, even today.It was customary for every king…

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Leonardo da Vinci is said to have been influenced by a twelfth century Muslim engineer from Ismaili Mail

When Muslim rule expanded into the eastern Mediterranean regions and western Asia, they came into contact with the diverse pre-Islamic science and learning traditions of the Greeks, Persians, Indians, and Chinese. A vast movement of translation, development, and innovation took place between the eighth and ninth centuries where scientists and scholars from various religious and ethnic backgrounds worked together and achieved scientific advances.

More: https://ismailimail.wordpress.com/2015/03/16/leonardo-da-vinci-is-said-to-have-been-influenced-by-a-twelfth-century-muslim-engineer/

References:
Aga Khan Museum Online Gallery
“Science and Learning,” Pattern and Light: Aga Khan Museum, Skira Rizzoli Publications Inc., New York 2014
Encyclopaedia Britannica

Research by Nimira Dewji

The Aga Khan Museum’s collection includes a travelogue of a prominent Chinese Islamic scholar

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The Chao Jin Tu Ji is the travelogue of Ma Fuchu (Image via AKDN /  Aga Khan Museum Online Gallery) The Chao Jin Tu Ji is the travelogue of Ma Fuchu (Image via AKDN / Aga Khan Museum Online Gallery)

The earliest Muslims in China were traders who came to the south eastern ports as part of the Indian Ocean trade as well as along the Silk Route, an ancient network of routes stretching for over six thousand miles from China across Central Asia to the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Muslims of China are generally divided into two groups: the first group consists of descendants of Arab, Persian, Central Asian, and Mongol traders who married Chinese women and settled in small communities around a central mosque – they are known as the Hui. Culturally and historically diverse, the largest concentration of Hui can be found in northwestern China. The second group consists of Muslims belonging to minority groups whose homelands are located in the territories of the former Soviet…

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The Wall Street Journal | Rethinking ‘Islamic Art’

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Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum features diverse, high-quality works to dispel the idea of a homogenous aesthetic.

[…] Everything in the museum seems committed to dislodging all legacy of this perspective, using beauty to lure us in close enough to appreciate the distinctiveness among Muslim civilizations.

– Lee Lawrence, The Wall Street Journal, Asian and Islamic art writer

Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum, building designed by Fumihiko Maki. (Image: The Wall Street Journal / Janet Kimber) Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum, building designed by Fumihiko Maki. (Image: The Wall Street Journal / Janet Kimber)

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The Garden of Ideas: Contemporary Art from Pakistan – https://www.agakhanmuseum.org/exhibitions/garden-ideas-contemporary-art-pakistan

Sep 18 2014 to Jan 18 2015
Bani Abidi
Nurjahan Akhlaq
David Chalmers Alesworth
Aisha Khalid
Atif Khan
Imran Qureshi

Created for pleasure, spiritual reflection, and aesthetic contemplation, gardens have held many meanings. Beyond their beauty, they represent the human impulse to organize, contain, and collect the natural world. Without cultivation a garden would cease to exist. Similarly, without cultivation of the mind and the soul, it is believed a society cannot progress. “To dwell is to garden,” wrote the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, reminding us of the central role of culture as part of our existence. The Garden of Ideas brings together the work of six internationally acclaimed Pakistani artists whose creations play with, question, and interrogate the timeless theme of the garden. Several pieces have been made in direct response to works in the Aga Khan Museum’s collection and to the Museum’s own reinterpretation of an Islamic garden (the chahar bagh) as designed by Vladimir Djurovic.

CURATOR:
Sharmini Pereira, guest curator of this exhibition, has garnered international attention as a curator, publisher, and conference speaker. Based in Sri Lanka and New York, she has written extensively on contemporary Asian art and is the director and founder of Raking Leaves, a non-profit independent publishing organization and the Sri Lanka Archive of Contemporary Art, Architecture, and Design in Sri Lanka. In 2011 she was the international guest curator of the Abraaj Capital Art Prize, which recognizes artists from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, and in 2006 she served as co-curator of the inaugural Singapore Biennale.

ARTISTS:
Bani Abidi (b. 1971, Karachi) received her BFA degree from the National College of Arts, Lahore, in 1994 and an MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999. Over the past decade, Abidi has worked primarily in digital art and has become Pakistan’s leading figure in contemporary video. Abidi held her first solo international exhibition in 2011 at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. She has exhibited in several international group exhibitions, including the Berlin Biennale (2014); dOCUMENTA 13 (2012); Where Three Dreams Cross — 150 Years of Photography from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2011); the Singapore Biennale (2006); and the Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale (2005). Her work is included in several permanent collections, including those of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The British Museum, London; and the Spencer Museum of Art, Kansas. Abidi lives and works in Berlin and Karachi.

Nurjahan Akhlaq (b. 1979, Lahore) moved to Canada via Turkey from Pakistan in 1993 and studied filmmaking at Concordia University, Montreal, before earning her MFA at Goldsmiths College, London, in 2009. Akhlaq is part of a younger generation of filmmakers that has also been involved in exploring the conceptual possibilities of collage and print. Her videos have been screened in international exhibitions and festivals, including Monitor Reruns, A Space Gallery, Toronto, in 2014; the Mumbai International Film Festival, India; the Kassel Documentary and Video Festival, Germany; the EBS International Documentary Festival, Seoul, Korea; and the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in 2005. Akhlaq’s film Death in the Garden of Paradise (2004) was an Official Selection at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto in 2005. She lives and works in Lahore and Toronto.

David Chalmers Alesworth (b. 1957, Wimbledon, United Kingdom) gained his BA Honours in sculpture from Wimbledon School of Art in 1980. In 1987 he relocated to Pakistan and gained his MFA in New Media from Transart Institute Berlin/NYC in 2010. In the mid to late 1990s, he began working with Pakistani truck artists and other urban craftspeople to produce a series of public installations conceived in collaboration with the Pakistani artist Durriya Kazi. Alesworth’s works and teachings influenced many Pakistani artists known as the Karachi Pop generation, who focused their attention on Pakistan’s street bazaars, the aesthetics of cinema hoardings, truck art, and the public realm. His art has been exhibited in exhibitions that include the Berlin Biennale (2014); Lines of Control, British Council, London (2011); Gardens of Babel, Rhotas-2 Gallery, Lahore (2011); and Half-Life, NCA Gallery, Lahore (2009). His work is also found in collections at the Pakistan National Collection, Islamabad; the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan; and the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane. Alesworth lives and works in Lahore.

Aisha Khalid (b. 1972, Faisalabad) was trained in miniature painting and graduated from the National College of Arts in 1993. Khalid was schooled in classical miniature painting and has become a leading figure in developing the contemporary miniature. She is one of the few artists to experiment with large-scale painting and abstraction and has also worked with video and textiles. Khalid is among a handful of Pakistani artists who have had solo shows of their work, including Larger Than Life, Whitworth Art Gallery, United Kingdom (2012); Larger Than Life, Corvi-Mora, London (2012); Pattern to Follow, Chawkandi Art, Karachi (2010); and Conversations, Pump House Gallery, London (2008). She has had group exhibitions at the Sharjah Biennale (2013); the Moscow Biennale (2013); the Venice Biennale (2009); the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. In 2011 Khalid was awarded the Jameel Prize’s People’s Choice Award, and in 2012 she was a winner of the Alice Award (Artist Book Category). Her work is included in several permanent collections, including the Sharjah Art Museum (Sharjah), the Victoria and Albert Museum (London), the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (Japan), and the World Bank (Washington, D.C.). She lives and works in Lahore.

Atif Khan (b. 1972, Sahiwal) graduated with distinction in fine art from the National College of Arts, Lahore, in 1997. He was awarded the UNESCO-ASHBURG Bursary in 1998 and completed a residency at Darat-al-Funun in Amman, Jordan. In 2007 he received the Commonwealth Arts and Crafts Award. He was also appointed artist-in-residence at the Swansea Print Workshop in Wales in 2005–06; the London Print Studio, United Kingdom; and the Glasgow Print Studio, Scotland, in 2008. Khan has participated in workshops in India, Bangladesh, and Jordan and has participated in exhibitions that include More Interpolation, Rohtas-2, Lahore (2009); Anthropology, Chawkandi Art, Karachi (2011); Contemporary Art from Pakistan, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (2012); and Landscape of the Heart, Ceri Richards Gallery, United Kingdom (2013). He lives and works in Lahore.

Imran Qureshi (b. 1972, Hyderabad) completed his BFA at the National College of Arts in 1993. He is one of Pakistan’s leading figures in developing the contemporary miniature painting. In 2013 he was named Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year and in the same year was invited to create the prestigious roof garden commission at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. He has held numerous international solo shows, including Imran Qureshi: The God of Small Things, Eli and Edyth Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, East Lansing (2014); Midnight Garden, Gandhara Art, Pao Galleries, Hong Kong (2014); and And They Still Seek the Traces of Blood, Zahoor Al Akhlaq Gallery, National College of Arts, Lahore (2010). Group exhibitions include Don’t You Know Who I Am? at the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (2014); The Encyclopedic Palace, 55th Venice Biennale, Venice (2013), the 18th Biennale of Sydney (2012); the Sharjah Biennial (2011); Beyond the Page: Contemporary Art from Pakistan, Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, California (2011); East-West Divan: Contemporary Art from Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan, La Scuola Grande della Misericordia, Venice (2011); Hanging Fire, Asia Society, New York (2009); and the Singapore Biennale (2006). Qureshi lives and works in Lahore.

Imran Qureshi, Rise and Fall (2014) (Detail), gouache on wasli (paper), 57.6 x 49.3 cm. Collection Claire Hsu and Benjamin Vuchot, Hong Kong.