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Hortus Malabaricus (In 12 Volumes)

Hendrik A. Van (Author) K.S. Manilal (Editor)
Synopsis By presenting these data for the first time in the English language, 325 years after its original publication in Latin, with appropriate annotations and commentaries, the present book throws the doors of the vast and fascinating treasure-house of Hortus Malabaricus wide open to scientists, medical practitioners, sociologists and historians. It would, no doubt, encourage them to do more serious enquiry, so that the society at large will benefit. Hortus Malabaricus, published from Amsterdam in 12 volumes during 1678-1693, is the oldest comprehensive printed book on the natural plant wealth of Asia and of the tropics. It was compiled and printed by Hendrik Adriaan van Rheede tot Draakestein, the then Dutch Governor of Cochin, a princely state of India. The entire text of this book, in double folio size, is in Latin. Covering 1595 pages of text, the original book contains descriptions and illustrations of 742 plants. Mentioned in it are the medicinal properties of the plants, the respective diseases for which they were used for treatment and the modes of treatment as known to the ancient, renowned traditional physicians of Malabar (Kerala). The introductions, Forewords, Dedications and similar details given in the various volumes also contain much information about the cultural, social, political, historical and linguistic conditions of India as well as of Kerala. The information on the medicinal uses of plants described in this book is of immense importance and current relevance, in the growing global needs for natural drugs, Intellectual Property Rights and Biological patent Laws. The migration, disappearance and the possible extinction of many of the useful plants from their original habitats, from where they were collected 325 years ago, as commented in this book, also points out to the need to take urgent steps to protect and conserve the plants of this biodiversity-rich zone in the Western Ghats of Peninsular India, considered as one of the hot-spots of the world. In Hortus Malabaricus, the plants are described under their names in the regional language of Malayalam, used by the natives of Cochin, in the 17 century. Almost all the plants described in Hortus Malabaricus are illustrated. The illustrations are beautiful and of very high technical excellence considering the times, and would help in identifying some of the plants upto the generic level. However, in most of them sufficient technical details required by modern standards are not available to determine their correct scientific identification, acceptable to the current International Code of Botanical Nomenclature. Hortus Malabaricus is unique because it contains valuable information on:The valuable plant wealth of Kerala, one of the richest zones of biodiversity in India, as the first ever printed book on the subject, The ancient traditional ethnomedical knowledge of Kerala physicians, about the medical properties of plants, with details regarding the disease for which they were used for treatment, the methods of preparation of the drug and how to apply the same, The history of Botanical science in India and the scientific system of classification of plants that was prevailing in Kerala, The socio-cultural conditions in 17 century India, How a book of plants of Kerala came to be instrumental in deciding the political history of India and of the Netherlands in the 17 century and perhaps those of other European maritime powers who followed the Dutch to India, The history of evolution of linguistics and scripts of the Malayalam language, Stages in the history of evolution of Roman and Malayalam numerals etc. Thus Hortus Malabaricus contains information on diverse topics of national and international importance. However, its greatest importance today is that it is a rare record of the plant wealth of Kerala and the medicinal uses of the plants. As none of the old medical manuscripts exist today and as there have been no authentic practitioners of traditional medicine in recent generations, Hortus Malabaricus is the only source of information about ancient Indian medicinal plants. Van Rheede’s Hortus Malabaricus is the result of about 30 years of compiling and editing by a team of the best among the 17 century European physicians, scientists, technicians, illustrators and engravers, with the collaboration of scholars from Kerala and other parts of India. For his work, Van Rheede, as the Dutch Governor of Cochin obtained material and logistic support from the King of Cochin and the ruling Zamorin of Calicut, another princely state. The descriptions of plants given in the book were edited by the most famous professors of Medicine and Botany of the best and the oldest Universities in Europe and conformed to the highest scientific standards of that time. When it was published, Hortus Malabaricus was lauded as a classic. Even today, three and a quarter centuries later, there is no other published book in the subject, which can surpass it in magnitude and imp
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Bibliographic information

Title Hortus Malabaricus (In 12 Volumes)
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2003
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
length 2400p. Plates.