Category: manuscripts

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An Aztec Remedy for Mental Stupor

For Mental Stupor:

He whose mind is in this condition should drink the juice of the tlahtlocotic root crushed in warm water so that he will vomit.  A few days later both the bark and roots of the flowers yolloxochitl and cacauaxochitl are to be crushed in water; he is to drink the juice before lunch…His forehead, moreover, is to be anointed with the brain of a stag and the feathers of a dove, crushed and put in water, and human hair. On his neck he shall carry the stone found in the stomach of the swallow.

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Plate 98 (left) and Plate 98, detail (right)

This remedy appears in a very special manuscript known as the Badianus Manuscript (Codex Barberini, Latin 241), now housed at the Vatican library. This manuscript was created in 1552 by two individuals of Aztec descent. One, Martinus de la Cruz,  was a physician; the other, Badianus, rendered the former’s pharmacological knowledge into Latin. The manuscript, decorated with pigments made of native materials,  is not only astoundingly beautiful, but an important witness to Aztec medicine at the time of the conquest. Special Collections owns a facsimile, edited by  Emily Emmart.

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Plate 68

The Badianus Manuscript, Codex Barberini, Latin 241, Vatican Library: An Aztec Herbal of 1552

John Hopkins Press, 1940

Rare Folio RS169 .C7 1552a

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Monday Manuscript: Bertrand Russell tells you how to be a philosopher

The semester's last manuscript of the week is from philosopher Bertrand Russell, whose birthday is on the 18th.  These three original manuscripts contain the text of "How to become a philosopher," "How to become a logician," and "How to become a mathematician."  They were later published in one volume by Haldeman-Julius Publications as nos. 7, 8, and 9 of The How-to series in 1942.  E. Haldeman-Julius donated them to the Philosophy Section of the Missouri Academy of Science in March 1943. Find it in the MERLIN catalog.

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Manuscript Monday: A Tiny Dutch Bifolium

We think this week's post counts for manuscript Monday and maybe even miniature Monday too!  This is a bifolium – a sheet folded to make two leaves, or four pages of text – from a very small prayer book in Dutch.  It was produced in the Low Countries sometime during the fourteenth century. The dimensions of each page are 72 x 76 mm, or about 2.8 x 3 inches.  

You can find more about this bifolium in the Digital Scriptorium.  It's fragment number 128 in the Fragmenta Manuscripta Collection: a group of leaves, binding waste, and other manuscript fragments assembled by John Bagford in the seventeenth century.

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