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Feast & Fast

The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800

237: Tacuinum Sanitatis (Strasburg, 1531)

This is a Latin translation of an influential eleventh-century Arabic book, the Taqwim al-Sihhah (The Maintenance of Health) by Baghdadi physician, Ibn Butlan (died c.1038), which combined ancient and Medieval medical traditions in a tabular format. Related to herbals, it listed the nature and effects of different foods, based on the Humours. Wheat, for example, was described as a ‘dry’ ingredient and good for those with ‘cold’ temperaments, old people, and in Northern regions. The illustration at the bottom of this opening shows various human actions relating to health and the body, including bloodletting (Purgatio), constipation (Constipatio), sexual intercourse (Coitus), semen (Sperma), and drunkenness (Ebrietas).

By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge (Ll.4.27)

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