Publisher Information: Tehran: 1856/57.
Polak, Jakopb Edouard (1818-91). Kitab-i jarrahi wa yak risalah dar kahhali [in Persian; English translation: Book on surgery with a treatise on ophthalmology]. Lithographed text. 6, , 297, 5-7, 96, 4, 177, pp. Text illustrations. Tehran, 1856/57 [AH 1273]. 208 x 145 mm. 19th-century morocco, some light wear and staining. A few leaves starting, first and last leaves a bit frayed but a very good, complete copy.
First Edition of the first Persian-language surgery textbook based on western medical science. This work is of the greatest rarity! No copies of this work are cited in OCLC or the Karlsruhe Virtuell Katalog, and there are no auction records of the sale of any copies. In our more than fifty years of experience trading in rare medical and scientific books we cannot recall any other printed medical book that may be considered unique in Europe and the U.S. The original edition is also extremely rare in Iran. The Iran Parliamentary library holds only one copy, and National Library of Iran, successor to the Dar al-Fanun, holds only another single copy.
Polak, an Austrian physician, was the first to establish a modern European-based medical curriculum in Iran, augmenting (and eventually supplanting) the traditional Galenic medicine that had been taught in that country since the tenth century. At the invitation of the Persian government, Polak moved to Tehran in November 1851 to teach at Iran’s newly established Dar al-Fonun (now the University of Tehran), the country’s first modern institute of higher learning, which included a medical school for the training of army physicians. He remained at the school for over eight years, returning to Austria in 1860. During his tenure at Dar al-Fonun Polak instructed classes of 15-20 students in the basics of Western medicine and surgery—a task made more difficult by the students’ lack of the necessary scientific knowledge and background, since these first pupils “consisted mostly of princes, sons of courtiers and other high government officials” (Floor, p. 4).
"Without a doubt, establishing modern terminology in Latin, French, Arabic and Persian was a central element in the development of modern medical education and a project which Polak, in retrospect, described as a “difficult task” and accordingly counted among his “best achievements.” Polak taught anatomy, physiology, pathology, ophthalmology, and surgery. With regard to the selection and arrangement of the teaching material, the design of the lessons followed two textbooks written by Polak and translated into Persian" (Gächter, p. 77 [all translations ours]).
Polak’s first textbook, on anatomy, was published in 1854. Thre years later Polak published the present textbook on surgery and ophthalmology, the first Persian-language textbook on its subjects to be based on Western medical science. Polak based his textbook on Joseph Maximilien Chelius’s Handbuch der Chirurgie (1830) and Handbuch der Augenheilkunde (1843), but added chapters of his own on local maladies such as leishmaniasis, guinea worm, leprosy and bladder stones, based on his own extensive experience treating these diseases in Persia. In his textbook Polak
"not only introduced the new surgical-medical terminology . . . but also dedicated a chapter to those surgical instruments that “doctors have to carry in their pockets.” The textbook is divided into three parts: the first part deals with the theoretical basics of the subject of surgery; the second with practical principles of operations and the third with ophthalmology . . .
"It is noteworthy that in writing his surgical textbook, Polak incorporated a number of theories from traditional Persian medicine so that, he said, Persian doctors would accept his presentation. He added for example a section on “fever theory,” although he no longer believed in “essential fevers,” so that a usable course of treatment could be taken even in the case of a missing or incorrect diagnosis" (Gächter, pp. 79-80).
To familiarize himself with Persian medical nomenclature Polak read a number of Persian books with medical content, including summaries of Galen and Avicenna (ibn Sina). W. Floor, The Beginnings of Modern Medicine in Iran, pp. 1-15. A. Gächter, Der Leibartz des Schah: Jakob E. Polak 1818-1891, pp. 76-80; 245. Polak, Jakob Eduard in Encyclopaedia Iranica (online).
Book Id: 50320