JORJĀNI, ZAYN-AL-DIN ESMĀʿIL b. Ḥasan, better known as Sayyed Esmāʿil Jorjāni (b. Gorgān, 1043-44?; d. Marv, 1136-37), physician who served two Khwarazmshahs (Ḵᵛārazmšāhs), Qoṭb-al-Din Moḥammad (r. 1097-1127) and his son and successor ʿAlāʾ-al-Din (or ʿAlāʾ-al-Dawla) Atsiz (r. 1127-56). For the former he composed his Ḏaḵira-ye ḵᵛārazamšāhi (q.v.), the largest encyclopedia of Galenic medicine in Persian. Later, at the request of Atsiz’s vizier, Majd-al-Din Ṣāḥeb b. Moḥammad Boḵāri, he produced in the years 1128-36 a summary version of the Ḏaḵira, titled Ketāb al-aḡrāż al-ṭebbiya wa’l-mabāḥeṯ al-ʿalāʾiya, which is the subject of the present paper.
These two works, which are important both for the study of the history of medicine in Iran (in the broader ancient geographical sense of this toponym) and for the study of the development of Persian technical (medical) language, have not yet been thoroughly studied. In the case of the Ḏaḵira, the Persian physician Jāmi Šakibi Gilāni (1984) has extracted a large part of its “pure Persian” medical vocabulary, which he has proposed as a guide and model for modern medical word-formation in Persian (about 440 terms according to my reckoning). On the other hand, the French physician Bertrand Thierry de Crussol des Epesse has studied Jorjāni’s ophthalmology in the Ḏaḵira (1998) and recently his dentistry, but, as far as I know, the Aḡrāż has not received any attention yet.
In the present paper, I intend not to deal with the language (grammar and style) of the Aḡrāż, which closely resembles that of the Ḏaḵira, but to examine briefly the nature and composition of Jorjāni’s more technical vocabulary. Jorjāni may be considered the continuator of the medical language inaugurated by the 10th-century physician Abu Bakr Rabiʿ b. Aḥmad Aḵawayni Boḵāri in his Hedāyat al-motaʿallemin fi’l-ṭebb (q.v.), the oldest known medical treatise in Persian. It should be noted, however, that all of Jorjāni’s sources (Hippocrates, Galen, Oreibasios, Rāzi/Rhazes, Avicenna, etc.) were in Arabic. Obviously, if he had intended to write for his colleagues and students, it would have been much easier for him to write in Arabic, then the scientific lingua franca of the Islamic world; but, since he has composed these works (and another one, the Ḵoffi-e ʿalāʾi) for non-professional Persian-speaking patrons, he has endeavored to avoid as far as possible the traditional Arabic medical terminology and phraseology. Nevertheless, because of the prevalence of Arabic in scientific writings, the Persian language of science did not have much chance to develop and to grow rich enough to serve as a multinational medium of scientific communication. Jorjāni’s language is no exception; his medical vocabulary is a mixture of Arabic and Persian elements.
My study of the text has revealed the following main features of this vocabulary. First, Jorjāni is obviously inclined to use as often as possible “pure” (i.e., non-Arabic) common Persian words and phrases when referring to the parts, constituents, and functions of the human body, to diseases, to the materia medica, etc., if such a lexical material was available (or known) to him; for instance: seporz “spleen,” bandgāh/peyvand “joint, articulation,” zehār “pubis,” malāza “uvula,” šetālang “ankle, anklebone,” gorda “kidney,” respectively instead of taḥāl, mafṣal, ʿāna, lahāt, kaʿb, kolya, and riš or zaḵm “wound, ulcer,” ḵuk “scrofula,” barsām “pleurisy,” āmās “inflammation,” sang or rig “calculus,” respectively instead of jerāḥa/jorḥ, qarḥa, ḵanāzir, ḏāt al-janb, eltehāb, ḥaṣāt.
Otherwise, he usually renders such-and-such notion with a compound word, a phrase or a sentence, sometimes including Arabic elements, for instance, kāsa-ye sar “skull,” gušt-e bon-e dandān “gums,” āmās-e jegar “nephritis,” nābuy yāftan “anosmia,” besyāri-e ašk “lacrimation,” maneš gaštan “nausea,” soḵan-e bihošāna goftan “delirium,” nāḵoši-e bu-ye dahān “bad breath,” dard-e nim-e sar “migraine,” ḵun az galu bar āmadan, “hemoptysis,” dard-e ʿaṣabhā “neuralgia,” bāz gereftagi-e bawl “retention of urine,” tašriḥ-e andāmhā “anatomy,” ba šab andar jāma bawl kardan “bed-wetting,” qowwat dahanda “tonic,” sodda gošāyanda “deobstruent,” ābestani bāzdāštan “contraception,” dirgovār “indigestible,” bādnāk “flatulent.” Understandably, the text abounds in Arabic terms for which Jorjāni did not know or could not make up “pure” Persian equivalents, for instance, demāḡ “brain,” meʿda “stomach,” maṯāna “bladder,” ḡożruf “cartilage,” ṣafrāʾ “bile,” sawdāʾ “black bile,” balḡam “phlegm,” ʿaṣab “nerve,” ʿerq al-nesāʾ “sciatica, sciatic nerve,” nabż “pulse,” ṭabiʿat “nature,” gens “genus,” nawʿ “species,” sabab “cause,” qewām “consistency,” mezāj “temperament, physical constitution,” ṣarʿ “epilepsy,” eḵtenāq al-raḥm “hysteria,” ḥabb “pill,” marham “salve, ointment,” żemād “cataplasm.” Sometimes Jorjāni seems to waver between using a conventional Arabic expression or a Persian equivalent. On different occasions, we find synonyms such as riš/jerāḥa “wound,” dam zadan/tanaffos “respiration,” negāh dāštan-e tandorosti/ḥefẓ-al-ṣeḥḥa “hygiene,” “nešān/ʿalāma “sign, symptom,” andām/ʿożv “organ,” biḵᵛābi/sahar “insomnia,” ziānkār/możerr “noxious, harmful,” andāmhā-ye andarunin/aḥšāʾ “viscera,” rang/lawn “color,” kār/feʿl wa ʿamal “function,” sargaštan/sadar wa dowār “vertigo,” kadudāna/ḥabb al-qaraʿ “taenia,” šuridagi/eḵtelāṭ-e ʿaql “mental confusion,” goḏar/majrā “duct, canal, passage.”
When dealing with adwia-ye mofrada (“simples”), presented in alphabetical order, the author, in accordance with a traditional practice, mentions them under their Arabic names, but he usually provides the Persian (or dialectical Persian) equivalents thereof if available, for instance, jerjir “watercress” (Pers. kezkez [?]), saraḵs “fern” (Pers. gil dāru), safarjal “pear” (Pers. ābi), ṣadaʾ al-ḥadid “iron rust,” (Pers. zangār-e āhan), ʿalaq “leech” (Pers. divča), foṭr “mushroom” (Pers. samāruḡ), mešmeš “apricot” (Pers. zardālu), hodhod “hoopoe” (Pers. šāna-basar), hendebāʾ “chicory” (Pers. kasna).
Sayyed Esmāʿil Jorjāni, Ketāb al-aḡrāż al-ṭebbiya wa al-mabāḥeṯ al-ʿalāʾiya, facs. edition of a manuscript copied in 789, Tehran, 1966.
Jāmi Šakibi Gilāni, Vāžagān-e pezeški-e pārsi-e Ḏaḵira-ye ḵᵛārazmšāhi wa rāhnemā-ye sāḵtan-e vāžahā-ye dānešik dar zabān-e pārsi, Tehran, 1984.
Bertrand Thierry du Croussol des Epesse Discours sur l’oeil d’Esmaʿil Gorgani, Bibliothèque iranienne 49, Tehran, 1998.
Bertrand Thierry and Hušang Aʿlam, “Dandān-pezeški-e Sayyed Esmāʿil Jorjāni,” in Dandān-pezeški-e emruz 5/2, 1998, pp. 20-21; 7/3, 1999, pp. 24-27.
Originally Published: June 15, 2009
Last Updated: April 17, 2012
This article is available in print.
Vol. XV, Fasc. 1, pp. 29-30