AḴAWAYNĪ BOḴĀRĪ, ABŪ BAKR RABĪʿ B. AḤMAD, 4th/10th century physician who worked in Boḵārā presumably all his life; author of Hedāyat al-motaʿallemīn fi’l-ṭebb, his only extant book and sole source of information about him. He names Abu’l-Qāsem Ṭāher b. Moḥammad b. Ebrāhīm Maqāneʿī Rāzī, a student of Moḥammad b. Zakarīyāʾ Rāzī (d. 311/923), as his own teacher. This puts his work into the second half of the 4th/10th century and thus makes it the earliest medical compendium in New Persian and indeed an important example of early New Persian prose (cf. the editor’s preliminary collection of evidence, pp. xv-xlv). The voluminous manual (around 200 chapters), written for and perhaps edited by the author’s son, in its first part provides general information on the four basic humors (aḵlāt¡) and on the functions of the bones, nerves, muscles, and blood vessels, and discusses the principle organs, from brain to bladder and sexual organs; it continues with an outline of such traditional topics as the human “faculties” and “pneumata” (qowā, arwāḥ), the causes and symptoms of illnesses, and the six “non-naturals:” the air around us; climates and epidemics; food and drink; movement, rest and gymnastics; sleep and waking; retention and excretion. The second part—about three times the size of the first—describes and discusses a long list of localized diseases, roughly a capite ad calcem; following that, exanthemata and other skin diseases, tumors, burns, wounds, fractures, poisons, fevers, etc. A chapter on hygiene and an appended piece on urine and the pulse complete the book.

Aḵawaynī’s first-hand material and his use of the older medical literature show considerable experience and independent judgment. Apart from a couple of monographs of his own, on the pulse (Ketāb-e nabż) and on anatomy (Ketāb-e tašrīḥ), to which he refers in passing, all his literary efforts appear to be concentrated on the Hedāya. Excerpts from the Greek and Syriac-Arabic medical literature are not abundant; his two principal, but not exclusive, sources are the works of Yūḥannā b. Sarābīūn (his Konnāš and its last maqāla, separately quoted as Qarābādīn) and of course Rāzī (Ḥāwī and al-Ketāb al-Manṣūrī), to which he apparently owes much of the Greek tradition: first Galen (Nawāder taqdemat al-maʿrefa, Tadbīr al-aṣeḥḥāʾ, al-Adwīat al-mofrada, Ketāb qāṭāǰānas, Maqāla fi’l-ḥarakāt al-moʿtāṣa al-maǰhūla, Ketāb fi’l-mawt al-sarīʿ, Ketāb fī anna qowa ’l-nafs tābeʿa le-mezāǰ al-badan, and others, often without title), next in frequency Hippocrates, who is quoted both in Arabic and Persian several times (al-Ahwīa wa’l-mīāh wa’l-boldān, al-Foṣūl, Taqdemat al-maʿrefa, Ketāb abīdīmīā), and only occasionally Dioscurides, Asclepiades (with a formula for aqrāṣ-e Andrūmāḵos), Archigenes together with Aristoteles, followed by Galen, on epilepsy, Gessius, Paulus Aegineta, and Ahrun. Syriac and Arabic authors quoted, again partly from Rāzī’s works, are: Šemʿūn-e Rāheb, ʿĪsā b. Ṣahārboḵt, Yaḥyā b. Māsawayh (seven times), Yaʿqūb b. Esḥāq al-Kendī, Ḥonayn b. Esḥāq (Tarkīb al-ʿayn, Ketāb al-maʿeda), ʿAbdūs b. Zayd, and (Ps.) Ṯābet b. Qorra (Ḏaḵīra). The sections on materia medica are of particular interest both for subject matter and Persian and Arabic (or other) terminology. Q(K)arābādīn works quoted are, according to frequency, by Yūḥannā, Ḥonayn b. Esḥāq, Rāzī, ʿĪsā b. Ṣahārboḵt, (Yūsof al-) Sāher, Marvazī (?).

Aḵawaynī’s impact on later medical tradition appears to have been limited. Neẓamī ʿArūżī, in his Čahār maqāla (ed. Browne, p. 70, tr. Browne, p. 78), recommends the Hedāya to the student of medicine as one of the “intermediate works” (kotob-e wasaṭ); the anonymous Mūǰaz-e kommī (perhaps from the end of the seventh/thirteenth century) quotes it seven times (cf. L. Richter-Bernburg, Persian Medical Manuscripts at the University of California, Los Angeles, Malibu, 1978, p. 189).


Abū Bakr . . . al-Aḵawaynī al-Boḵārī, Hedāyat al-motaʿallemīn fi’l-ṭebb, ed. J. Matīnī, Mašhad, 1344 Š./1965.

Matīnī, “Mūǰaz-e kommī,” Haftād-sālagī-e Farroḵ, Tehran, 1344 Š./1965, pp. 165-79.

H. Taqīzāda, “Tawaǰǰoh-e Īranīān dar goḏašta be ṭebb va aṭebbāʾ,” Yādgār 5, nos. 6-7, 1327 Š./1948-49, p. 22.

M. Mīnovī, “Hedāyat al-motaʿallemīn dar ṭebb,” Yaḡmā 3, 1329 Š./1950, pp. 497-510.

Ṣafā, Adabīyāt I, p. 621.

G. Lazard, “Dva meditsinskikh traktata X veka na farsi dari,” Rudaki i ego epokha, Stalinabad, 1958, pp. 84-97.

Idem, La langue des plus anciens monuments de la prose persane, Paris, 1963, pp. 48-50.

Storey, II/2, p. 199.

M. Naǰmābādī, Tārīḵ-eṭebb dar Īrān pas az Eslām, Tehran, 1353 Š./1974, pp. 640-47.

(H. H. Biesterfeldt)

Originally Published: December 15, 1984

Last Updated: July 29, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 7, pp. 706-707

Cite this entry:

H. H. Biesterfeldt, “AḴAWAYNĪ BOḴĀRĪ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/7, pp. 706-707; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/akawayni-bokari-abu-bakr-rabi-b (accessed on 25 April 2014).