Hamish Riley-Smith

Rare Books And Manuscripts


Le Livre de l’Agriculture [Kitab al-filaha] Paris 1864-1867

The most important Arabic and medieval work on Agriculture - Kitab Al Filahah

IBN AL-‘AWWAM. [Abu Zakariya Yahya ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Al-Awwam Al-Ishbili] fl end of 12th century.
Le Livre de l’Agriculture [Kitab al-falaha] Traduit de l’Arabe par J.-J. Clément-Mullet. Tome Premier, Tome II Pemiere Partie, Tome II – IIe Partie.
Paris,Librairie A.Franck...1864,1866, 1867

3 volumes, octavo, contemporary vellum, spines lettered in black ink and upper covers lettered in Arabic in ink, marbled endpapers, top leaf edges gilt, leaf edges uncut, original green printed paper covers bound in; pp.(4) + 100 + 657; (4) + 460 + (4); (4) + x + 24 + 293, large folding engraved plate of a horse and harness, text in French with some Arabic, index in volume 3 in Arabic and French, two woodcuts in the text, a few stains, a fine copy.

Sarton, Introduction to the History of Science, vol.II,pt.I, pp.424-425.Hayes [ed], The Genius of Arab Civilization, Source of Renaissance, p.159. see Fil??a Texts Project www.filaha.org

FIRST FRENCH TRANSLATION OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ARABIC AND MEDIEVAL TREATISE ON AGRICULTURE by Ibn al-‘Awwam, Hispano-Muslim agriculturalist who flourished in Seville about the end of the 12th century. Topics covered in detail include medicinal plants, species of plants, soil, farming techniques, husbandry, methods of cultivation, tillage, irrigation, agronomy, share-cropping, gardening and landscaping, plant sex life, and fertilization.
“It is divided into 34 chapters, of which the first 30 deal with agriculture proper, and the last four with cattle and poultry raising and apiculture. It is based on Greek and Arabic writings, but also practical knowledge. The main source was probably Ibn Wahshiya [first half of the 10th century]; in fact, Ibn Khaldun speaks of Ibn al-‘Awwam’s work as if it were only a summary of Al-falaha al-nabatiya, but this is wrong. Ibn al-‘Awwam’s treatise deal with 585 plants, and explains the cultivation of more than fifty different fruit trees. It contains striking observations on the different kinds of soil and manure and their respective properties, on various methods of grafting, on sympathies and antipathies between plants. The symptons of many diseases of trees and vines are indicated, as are also methods of cure.” Sarton
“Ibn al-‘Aww?m’s Kit?b al-fil??a is, without doubt, the most comprehensive agricultural treatise in Arabic. He gathers all the knowledge of his time concerning agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry into a huge compendium of excerpts from all the previous agronomical traditions and treatises. From 112 named authors (Ibn al-‘Aww?m, Banqueri 1802, I, pp. 61-2) he includes one thousand nine hundred direct and indirect citations – 615 or 32.5% from Byzantine sources, especially from Cassianus Bassus, 585 or 31% from Near Eastern sources, 85% of which are from Ibn Wa?sh?ya, and 690 citations or 36.5 % from earlier Andalusi agronomists (Glick 2005, pp. 12-13). To these he often adds his own observations and experiences, about which he says: “As for my own contribution, I put forward nothing that I have not first proved by experiment on repeated occasions” (Ibn al-‘Aww?m, Clément-Mullet 1866, I, p. 9). He records, for example, his experiments in grafting the wild olive of the mountains with the domesticated olive of the plain, and his successful cultivation of saffron, under irrigation, in the mountains.” Fil??a Texts Project
The original text was found in a manuscript in the Escurial Library in the 18th century, it was published in Spanish translation in Madrid in 1802, and subsequently here in the French translation.

 IBN AL-‘AWWAM - Le Livre de l’Agriculture [Kitab al-filaha] Paris 1864-1867

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