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Manuscript/Mixed Material Kitāb mafātīḥ al-raḥmah wa-asrār al-ḥikmah Mafātīḥ al-ḥikmah / كتاب مفاتيح الرحمة و أسرار الحكمة

About this Item


  • Kitāb mafātīḥ al-raḥmah wa-asrār al-ḥikmah

Other Title

  • Mafātīḥ al-ḥikmah
  • كتاب مفاتيح الرحمة و أسرار الحكمة


  • Part II entitled "From keys of wisdom" is divided into 7 sections: Definitions and symbols; Promotion and what can be promoted; Distillation, what cannot be distilled; Conversions and synthesis; Degradation and decomposition; How the chemist deduced these facts; and, The stages of work. It is hard to consider this part an accurate translation of Zosimos book "Keys of the craft". It often contains references that are anachoronistic or that are not found in Zosimos' text.
  • The ms. is in two parts. Part I, or Introduction by Ṭughrāʼī, and Part II, "From keys of wisdom" is by the Egyptian chemist Zosimos, translated into Arabic by al-Ṭughrāʼī. Part I is written in the form of lectures and is divided into 5 chapters: The science and its materials; Mixing and its way; Fire and its nature; Balances (of properties); Metals and plants and how to recognize them.
  • This manuscript is an invaluable source for understanding alchemical doctrines and practices in the Islamic world during the Middle Ages. Its author, the polymath Muʻayyad al-Dīn al-Tuġrā'ī, was born in 1062 AD in Persia (present-day Iran) and worked as a secretary in the Seljuk court. He later was appointed vizier in Mosul (present-day Iraq), but his career came to a dramatic end in 1121, when, following the disgrace of his protector, he was falsely accused of heresy and beheaded. Notes on al-Tuġrā'ī's biography were added to the first page of this manuscript at a later date, together with some marginalia intended to correct, highlight, or comment upon particular passages of the treatise. Kitāb mafātīh ar-rahma wa-asrār al-hikma (The keys of mercy and the secrets of wisdom) consists of two parts. The first half of the treatise is a muqaddima (long introduction), in which the author presents a systematic exposition of alchemical doctrines, from the theory of the four elements to the preparation of a white elixir for the transmutation of copper into silver and of a red elixir for the transmutation of silver into gold. The second part of the manuscript contains al-Tuġrā'ī's Arabic translation of a Greek treatise by the famous alchemist Zosimus of Panopolys, who flourished around 300 AD. Al-Tuġrā'ī interpolates the text with his own comments and with quotations from other authorities (including philosophers such as Artistotle, Democritus, and Galen and mythical or historical characters such as Hermes and Cleopatra) to the extent that it is difficult to identify much of the original Greek work. Nonetheless, the very existence of this translation says much about role of Arabic sciences in the preservation and transmission of ancient and Hellenistic scientific knowledge. The manuscript is embellished with numerous drawings of chemical apparatuses, including vessels for distillation and sublimation and different kinds of furnaces, and tables intended to explain the theoretical contents of the text. World Digital Library.


  • ughrāʼī, al-Ḥusayn ibn ʻAlī, 1061 or 1062-1121?
  • Zosimos, of Panopolis

Created / Published

  • [17--?]


  • -  Alchemy--Early works to 1800
  • -  Manuscripts, Arabic--Washington (D.C.)


  • -  Fol. 120b of Part I and fol. 145b of Part II both have the date Dhu al-Qaʻdah 1148 AH [March 1736 AD]; on fol. 145b there is an inscription "Owned by legal purchase by so and so, son of so and so, in the holy month of Dhī al-Qaʻdah 1148."
  • -  Fol. 1a -120a (vol. I) and fol. 2a-145b (vol. II).
  • -  Library of Congress. Arabic manuscript, Mafātiḥ al-raḥmah wa-asrār al-ḥikmah.
  • -  Ms.
  • -  Naskhī script; 25 lines in written area, 16 x 7 cm.
  • -  Numerous illustrations.
  • -  Original binding: blind tooled red leather.
  • -  Paper: illuminated yellow cream with various watermarks; in moderate condition, stains from humidity and limited termite damage. First few leaves and last leaf have been repaired. Black ink on title page; text in black ink with some rubricated words. Diacritical marks throughout. Extensive marginal notes in different hands; catchwords on rectos.
  • -  Title from fol. 2a.
  • -  El Khadem, H.S. "A translation of a Zosimos text in an Arabic alchemy book," Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, vol. 84, no. 3, Sept. 1996, p. 168-178.
  • -  Also available in digital form on the Library of Congress website.
  • -  Arabic.
  • -  Incipit: بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم الحمد لله الذي أبرز أعيان حقايق المكونات رميز تعينات هوياتها تبفنز (؟) القوابل القوابل و الإمتزاجات و أفاض خمر(؟؟؟) جارقد (؟) على أرض التكوين . . . .


  • 265 leaves (25 lines), bound : paper ; 21 x 15 cm.

Call Number/Physical Location

  • QD25 .T847 1700z

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 2008427048

Online Format

  • pdf
  • image

Additional Metadata Formats

IIIF Presentation Manifest

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

UghrāʼĪ, Al-Ḥusayn Ibn ʻAlī, 1061 Or ?, and Of Panopolis Zosimos. Kitāb Mafātīḥ Al-Raḥmah Wa-Asrār Al-Ḥikmah. [17--?, 1700] Manuscript/Mixed Material.

APA citation style:

Ughrāʼī, A. I. ʻ. & Zosimos, O. P. (1700) Kitāb Mafātīḥ Al-Raḥmah Wa-Asrār Al-Ḥikmah. [17--?] [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

UghrāʼĪ, Al-Ḥusayn Ibn ʻAlī, 1061 Or ?, and Of Panopolis Zosimos. Kitāb Mafātīḥ Al-Raḥmah Wa-Asrār Al-Ḥikmah. [17--?, 1700] Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.