The Filāḥa Texts Project: Medieval Books of Crop and Animal Husbandry

Arabic botanical treatise, unknown author (c) Princeton Univ. library.

Arabic botanical treatise, unknown author (c) Princeton Univ. library.

After some months, The Kutub al-Filāḥa – or Books of [Arabic] Husbandry – is back online and with  new materials.  It is the only source (I’m aware of) that has been systematically documenting medieval Arabic manuscripts on these topics – and that is online.

In addition to transcribing Arabic manuals into digitized forms, there are translations into English.  As well, all of the farming chores, by month, that appear in the 10th Century Calendar of Cordoba by ‘Arīb ibn Sa‘d, are given in translation.

Below is a brief on this project, as well as the agronomic activities for the upcoming month of August.

The purpose of the Filāḥa Texts Project is to publish, translate and elucidate the written works collectively known as the Kutub al-Filāḥa or ‘Books of Husbandry’ compiled by Arab, especially Andalusi, agronomists mainly between the 10th and 14th centuries…

These systematic and detailed manuals of agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry have been somewhat neglected and remain largely unknown in the Anglophone world – apart from some of the Yemeni works they have never been translated into English.

They not only provide primary source material for the understanding of what has been called the ‘Islamic Green Revolution’ but constitute a rich body of knowledge concerning a traditional system of husbandry which is as valid today as it was a thousand years ago and has much relevance to future sustainable agriculture.

The Filāḥa texts are preserved in some 240 manuscripts scattered in libraries and institutions in 40 different cities, mainly in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa

The objectives of the Filāḥa Texts Project are:

  • To bring to a worldwide English-speaking readership the current state of knowledge on the Filāḥa texts and their authors, especially the findings of Spanish scholars J.M. Carabaza Bravo and E. García Sánchez who have worked in this field for the past twenty-five years. To them we owe a huge debt of gratitude. See Bibliography.

  • To gather a corpus of digitized manuscripts, Arabic editions and English translations of Filāḥa texts on one site. See Texts & Translations.

  • To provide a variety of scholarly online resources such as glossaries, bibliographies, published articles, links, etc. See Articles & Resources.

  • To encourage interest and research in the field, and provide a locus for the publication of scholarly and more popular articles on the Filāḥa manuals and traditional farming in Arab and Islamic lands in general.

  • To provide a forum for discussion and the exchange of ideas among scholars engaged in the field. Register to join the Forum here.

Activities for the month of August, as given in  the 10th Century Calendar of Cordoba by ‘Arīb ibn Sa‘d, are as follows:

The month when …

… juice is extracted from two different kinds of pomegranate and mixed with fennel water to make a thick ointment for the treatment and prevention of cataracts and other diseases of the eye.

The first dates and jujubes begin to ripen, the smooth-skinned peaches are ready for plucking, acorns take shape, and the water melons, known as al-hindī, are now ripe.

The late-ripening sweet pears are picked and jam is made from them. Grey mullet leave the sea for the rivers and they are caught in large numbers. Sardines are also in abundance.

The following medicinal herbs are ready for gathering: sumac, the seeds of the white poppy, from which syrup is made, rue seeds and bādāward, stavesacre seed, and southernwood.

Instructions are given for the requisitioning of silk and indigo for the ṭirāz.

The gardens are planted with autumn beans, sky-blue stock, turnips, carrots, chards.

It is the mating season of the peacocks and one can hear the loud call of the males from afar.

via The Filāḥa Texts Project.

Page from a manuscript from Al-Andalus, 12 cen...

Page from a manuscript from Al-Andalus, 12 cent. Sura 15 : Al-Hijr. The thicker strokes in the center of the page are in the Kufic style of calligraphy. From (Source: Wikipedia)

About dianabuja

With a group of BaTwa (pygmy) women potters, with whom we've worked to enhance production and sales of their wonderful pots - fantastic for cooking and serving. To see the 2 blogs on this work enter 'batwa pots' into the search engine located just above this picture. Blog entries throughout this site are about Africa, as well as about the Middle East and life in general - reflecting over 35 years of work and research in Africa and the Middle East – Come and join me!
This entry was posted in Andalus, Arabic, Botany, Crop harvests, Egypt - Medieval, Europe - medieval, Indigenous crops & medicinal plants, Livestock, Manuscripts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Filāḥa Texts Project: Medieval Books of Crop and Animal Husbandry

  1. ritaroberts says:

    Many thanks Diana for this interesting post. Love your blog.


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