"Men Treading Grapes", Folio from a Materia Medica of Dioscorides

Object Name:
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
dated A.H. 621/ A.D. 1224
Iraq or Northern Jazira, possibly Baghdad
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
11.87 in. high 9.12 in. wide (30.1 cm high 23.2 cm wide)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Anonymous Gift, 1956
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Illustrations in early Islamic manuscripts produced by the Baghdad School were greatly influenced by Greek and Byzantine prototypes; the text often included the translation of Greek scientific manuscripts, such as De Materia Medica, accompanied by detailed genre scenes. On this folio, the medicinal properties of sour wine are described with an illustration showing two men treading grapes.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Definition: Arabic
    Translation: Book V, 12 - "Wine from sour grapes"- lines 1-4: ...the wine is binding, and it is comforting to the stomach, beneficial, and it is comforting to the stomach, beneficial to whoever feels pain with digestion of the stomach, and for a loose stomach, and for a woman with unnatural appetite, and for whoever has colic which quivers in it. And it is said that it is useful in the sickness which shakes; that is a stomach complaint. And this wine must be aged many years, for if this is not done, it is not fit to be drunk. Book V, 13 -"The wine which is called the second [Deuteria]- lines 5-7: And it is also called The Drink (Potimon) also called tarjamra. It is made according to this description: There is taken a mass of pressed grapes, of the amount from which 30 jars has been pressed out, and pour onto it...jars [no number, should be 3 jars] of water. Then it is trampled under foot, and pressed, and boiled until 2/3 has gone off, and 1/3 remains. Then it is thrown into...[end of page].
    Notes: This Arabic translation is from the Greek text of Sprengel (it does not follow the Greek text of Max Wellman) and goes with the English translation edited by Gunther. The Arabic of the verso begins in the middle of Book V, 12 (in Sprengel), whose title is "Wine from sour grapes", and this occupies lines 1-4. Line 5, with a red title, begins another recipe, Book V, 13: "The second wine (Deuteria)" and this is also incomplete. The Arabic is not an absolutely literal translation; in one or two places there is an extra phrase or definition.

    Marking: See additional card.

  • Provenance

    F. R. Martin, Stockholm (by 1910–at least 1912); [ Adrienne Minassian, New York, until 1956; sold to MMA]

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History