ABU’L-ḤASAN B. ʿABD-AL-WAHHĀB TAFREŠĪ (1261-1323/1845 to 1905-06), medical instructor, author, and public health official in late Qajar Persia. Abu’l-Ḥasan was born in Ṭarḵorān (34°40’ north latitude, 50° east longitude, apparently identical with Tafreš, of which it used to be a dependency; see Gazetteer of Iran I, p. 654, and maps I-43-B, I-44-A), today the central place of the district of Tafreš, situated between Qom and Hamadān in the Central Province (see Map of Iran, Administrative Divisions, Tehran, 1962). At the age of eight, he was sent to school while his (blind) father supervised his instruction in the reading and writing of Persian. By the time he was fourteen, Abu’l-Ḥasan had learned the rudiments of Arabic, astronomy/astrology, and traditional medicine; under straightened circumstances he continued his education at Tafreš for four more years. After that he went to Tehran to attend the Dār al-Fonūn, where he was listed as a student of medicine in Ramażān, 1288/November-December, 1871 and which he left in the following year or in 1290/1873-74 with the final diploma; this probably amounted to a doctoral degree, since he was later commonly called doktor. His curriculum at the Dār al-Fonūn included traditional Iranian medicine, taught by Mīrzā ʿAbd-al-Wahhāb Ḥakīmbāšī, farangī or western medicine and surgery, taught by Mīrzā Reżā Doktor, and natural science and pharmacy, taught by Mīrzā Kāẓem Khan (q.v.). In 1291/1874-75 Abu’l-Ḥasan was appointed government physician in the provinces of ʿErāq and Solṭānābād and subsequently to various other positions in the developing health administration and at the Dār al-Fonūn, where he twice held teaching posts. His career (down to 1312/1894-95) included the following appointments: physician to the Mounted Guards (kešīk-ḵāna), officer for plague control at Rašt, member of the Health Council (maǰles-e ḥefẓ-e ṣeḥḥat) in Tehran, government physician of Azerbaijan, and director of the State Hospital at Tehran; he was given the rank of brigadier-general (sartīp-e awwal).

In his medical writings, which covered most of the major disciplines, Abu’l-Ḥasan attempted to further the knowledge of Western science in Iran. They include, in the order of publication (as lithographs): 1. Pātoložī (“Pathology”), Tehran, 1300/1883; 2. Maṭlaʿ al-ṭebb-e Nāṣerī dar amrāẓ-e bāṭenī, Tehran, 1300/1883; 3. Tarāpotīk va davāsāzī, Tehran, 1305/1887-88, 1308/1890-91; 4. Tašrīḥ, Tehran, 1312/1894-95, a translation from the French of Marie-Philibert-Constant Sappey (1810-96), a leading anatomist of the time (Traité d’anatomie déscriptive, 1876-79, 4 vols.); 5. Masāʾel-e ʿomda-ye ḥefẓ al-ṣeḥḥa, Tabrīz, 1312/1894-95; 6. Fīzīoložī (“Physiology”), Tehran, 1315/1897-98.


The above is essentially based on Abu’l-Ḥasan’s autobiography as quoted in Mošār, Moʾallefīn I, pp. 144-45 (with photograph), where his published works are also listed. Cf. Eʿtemād-al-salṭana, al-Maʾāṯer wa’l-āṯār, Tehran, 1306/1988, p. 218. Browne, Press and Poetry, pp. 156, 157, no. 11.

E. Yaḡmāʾī, “Madrasa-ye Dār al-Fonūn, 10,” Yaḡmā 23/5, 1349 Š./1970, p. 305. Storey, II, p. 305, no. 557.

(L. Richter-Bernburg)

Originally Published: December 15, 1983

Last Updated: July 21, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 3, pp. 313-314

Cite this entry:

L. Richter-Bernburg, “ABU’L-ḤASAN TAFREŠĪ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/pp. 313-314; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abul-hasan-b-2 (accessed on 31 January 2014).