Table of Contents

Chapter 65: Chemistry

Alexandrian Alchemy.-With the advent of Islam, the Arab tribes, many of them still nomadic, were united into one nation. Their conflicts with the neighbouring peoples which used to end as skirmishes bringing immediate defeat on the scattered tribes, now changed into regular wars often crowning them with success. What that meant can be realized from the fact that within a hundred years of the Prophet's death, which occurred in 11/632, Islam had spread from Spain in the West to Sind in the East. As an advancing nation the Arabs came in contact with different races, and when Egypt was conquered, during the regime of the Caliph 'Umar, in 21/641, they came to know the Hellenized Egyptian culture as it then existed. Its centre was Alexandria, founded by Alexander in 332B.C.

Very soon it became an emporium of international trade attracting merchants from all over the world. Above all, the Greeks had migrated there in numbers, giving rise to a mixed culture of Egyptian and Greek origin. The Egyptians used idols in their temples and chapels, preferring those of bronze, particularly when they were gilded. The artisans of Alexandria excelled in this craft, and the manufacture of gilded bronze statues apparently became a lucrative industry.

From gilding bronze some of the artisans began to dream of making gold itself and devoted their main attention to achieve this end. Thus arose alchemy, not found before either in Egypt or in Greece. It was existing when the Arabs acquired Egypt and was one of the elements of Alexandrian culture which diffused into Arabian civilization.

There are several treatises and even books which suggest that Greek science, which flourished between 300 B. C. and 200 A. D., subse­quently passed on to the Arabs who functioned as its intermediate preservers delivering it to Europeans during the Middle Ages. Such is the accepted origin of alchemy.

It now becomes necessary to offer a brief sketch of alchemy as it was founded at Alexandria. The oldest existing manuscript on alchemy is not prior to about 391/1000. But it is supposed to be a copy of a work originally written in about 100 A. D. During this early period alchemy was a semi-secret science pursued by a few obscure persons. As Taylor1 says, “although the earlier alche­mists wrote in Greek, they were not Greeks, but in all probability Egyptians or Jews. They were not Christians.” And what did they call their art? This knotty problem is conspicuous by its absence in Taylor's book. When Wilson2 came to review it, he supplied the missing information on “the derivation of the Greek name of the art.” “The word unmistakably goes back to the craft of the foundryman and metal-worker.

First, there is the Greek verb cheo (xiw), to melt and pour, as in the casting of a bronze statue, then its derivative chump, an ingot of cast metal, and finally from this another derivative chumeia, the art of preparing metal ingots. This in time became a technical term for the artificial preparation of the precious metals, but at first, as in Zosimus, about 300 A.D., it acquired a qualifying phrase, the chumeia of silver or gold. Before the Arabic period, however, chumeia could stand alone to denote the art of transmutation.

Also before Arabic times, about 81/700 or earlier, it seems to have been confused with chemia, apparently a Greek derivative of the Egyptian word chem, meaning black. The reasons are obscure but the fact of the confusion is hardly to be questioned. Later, the Arabs took over both spellings, chumeia and chemia, prefixed their own definite article al, and handed the word on to the Europeans in about the sixth/twelfth century.” Thus kimiya is the Arabicized form of the dual word chumeia/chemia.

The Greek and Arabic Terms Compared.-Now it is even more important to know what the Arabs received under the name kimiya from the Greek­speaking alchemists-to know what the word chemeia signifies and how the Arabic word kimiya compares with it in meaning. Gildemeister3 explains that “kimiya with the Arabs primarily is not an abstraction (or the science of alchemy) but the name of a substance, of an agent, by which transmutation of metals is brought about, thus of the Philosophers' Stone, or rather of preparations made out of it. It is thus a synonym of ilcsir which likewise signifies a transforming agent. By contrast chumeia is never used by the Greeks in any other sense than transmutation of metals.”4

There are two synonyms in Greek, chemeia and chumeia. Gildemeister refers to the use only of the latter, apparently taking it as identical with the former. In Arabic there are two terms kimiya and iksir, the latter not being represented in Greek literature. In fact, iksir occurs far more in Arabic than the word kimiya. Iksir or al-iksir has been Europeanized into elixir which has come to mean as an agent for prolong­ing life. According to Taylor,5 “the alchemy of China was primarily concerned with the prolonging of life”; he adds6 in this connection that “it is very probable that the Arab alchemists received some information about it. It is certainly notable that the idea of the elixir as a medicine prolonging life was present amongst the Arabs and not known to their Greek-speaking predeces­sors.”

P. Kraus7 published a voluminous work on Jabir. Its reviewer8 correctly noticed that “as to the origin of all those theories, Kraus maintains that not much of Jabir's alchemy can be traced to the extant fragments of Greek alchemistic literature, and that there are certain features in his alchemistic knowledge which are definitely unknown in classical antiquity.” There has prevailed so much prejudice in favour of Greek that even the word “elixir,” absent in Greek and therefore inconceivable as a loan-word in Arabic, has been given a Greek root. Iksir has accordingly been said to have come from the Greek word ksiron, meaning dry, and has been made to connote dry powder, while elixir means essence, spirit, or fluid. How the Arabs coined their word from Greek cannot be explained. All this tends to show that the primary source of Arab alchemy lies somewhere away from Alex­andria.

The Urge to Pursue Alchemy.-There were two types of seekers after lon­gevity. First, the ascetic who was his own grocer, cook, and doctor and to whom infirmity of old age meant lingering death. The second was represented by a prince who had wealth and power and desired long life, only to enjoy his possessions fully. Though for different reasons, the Sufis, the nearest to ascetics, also indulged in alchemy. In fact, Wiedemann9 remarks that “the study of alchemy has had one undesirable result inasmuch as the representatives of the mystic movement in Islam studied alchemy, e.g., ibn al-'Arabi.”

This, however, was expected, and the converse is also true, for about the master of alchemy, Jurji10 states that “later tradition makes Jabir ibn Hayyan the first Sufi.” Kraus11 explains how Jabir, the alchemist, became interested in Sufism. He writes, “Alchemy is never practised by Jabir for the object of accumulating wealth and acquiring the power of gold. Its real mission is to bring about salvation.” And how was this possible? He continues to say that “Salvation in the Manichaean sense means to oppose in all spheres of life the fatal mixture of light and darkness and to free the light from dark particles. The Manichaean natural history, especially alchemy, aims at the great work of salvation.”

Let us now turn to the wealthy and the worldly class. According to Martin,12 “Emperor Ts'in-She-Hwang (B. C. 220), the builder of the great wall of China, is the earliest historical sovereign who became a votary of alchemy.” There are a few more Chinese emperors who believed in alchemy; a couple of them had to pay with their lives for trying alchemical drugs. In the life of Chingiz Khan it is stated that he sent for a Taoist priest all the way from China to Central Asia, where he was encamped, to discuss if life could be prolonged for ever.

Khalid, the Umayyad Prince (40-85/660-704).-There is a sub-class among the well-to-do who would like to enjoy as sport the transmutation of a base metal into gold. Such a motive on the part of a young prince can be easily imagined and one such prince appears to have been Khalid, son of the Caliph Yazid I and grandson of Mu`awiyah. In the Arabic literature on alchemy, compiled about 377(987 by the famous bookseller al-Nadim, it is stated, as translated by Fuck,13 that “Khalid was the first Muslim for whom medical, astronomical, and (al)chemical writings were translated into Arabic. ...” He wrote a number of treatises and books. Al-Nadim also saw the following four of his books: (1) The Book of Amulets, (2) The Great Book of the Scroll, (3) The Small Book of the Scroll, and (4) The Book of the Testament to His Son on the Art.

Introduction of Alexandrian Alchemy.-When Khalid wanted to learn alchemy at Damascus, his capital, he sent for a teacher from Alexandria, a Christian monk named Marianos, a pupil of another alchemist, also of Alex­andria, named Stephanos, who lived in the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Herkleios I (610-641 A.D.). That the best available teacher of alchemy at the time was a monk is in full harmony with what has been said of alchemy and of Sufis here. A monograph of over fifty pages has been devoted to Khalid by Professor Ruska,14 the famous German historian of alchemy.

The Oldest Alchemy and How it Reached the Muslim World.-A series of authors have established that alchemy is indigenous to China. Among the older writers may be mentioned Martin,15 while the best historical evidence has been offered by Dubs.16 From China alchemy reached Alexandria by the sea-route. In South China, the name of the dynasty that built the Great Wall is pronounced Ts'in, which became Tseen, the Arabic name for China. Likewise, the South Chinese term, kim-iya, Gold-making Juice, became the loan-word lcimiya, upon which Schneider17 has published the most recent communication. It is probable that the word kimiya, instead of having been borrowed direct from the Chinese, was taken over from Arabic into Greek, being Hellenized there as chemeia. This is how it was written, but very probably its pronunciation was similar to that of kimiya. The pre-Islamic Arabs, bring­ing silk from South China, all along the sea-route, also imported Taoism and alchemy as the cults of immortality. To the pagan mind alchemy made a special appeal and this explains how it came to be imported. Some of the Arab alchemists of the type of what we call fakirs must have settled at Alexandria where it gradually spread mainly among monks and other ascetics. We have just seen that even centuries afterwards this character did not change for it was the monks who brought Alexandrian alchemy to Damascus.

Another way in which Chinese alchemy reached the Islamic world was via land-route. In Christianity one church tried to suppress another; and a community, speaking Syriac and calling themselves Nestorians, sought protec­tion from outside and established an academy at Jundi-Sbapiir, in South­West Persia. The Nestorians migrated even up to China so that there must have been contact between the Nestorians of China and those of Persia. As an impact of Christianity upon Zoroastrianism there resulted the religion of Mani. The Manichaeans with their philosophy of dualism were close to the alchemists as they also believed in a similar doctrine. Briefly, Nestorian and Manichaean Persia was in intimate contact with China and was responsible for a fresh influx of Chinese alchemy. The Jundi-Shapur academy was by no means dead during the reign of Harun al-Rashid to which period Jabir also belonged. When Kraus and others notice that there was much in Jabir that was not found in Greek alchemy we have to turn to Chinese influence in Persia at that time.

The Beginning of Classical Islamic Alchemy.-The Umayyads ruling from Damascus had become very unpopular. There were plots to replace them by the 'Abbasid dynasty. Such agents were active as far east as the province of Khurasan in Persia. One such emissary was Jabir's father, Hayyan, a druggist by profession. Jabir was born at Tds, in Khurasan, about 104/722, during the family's sojourn in Persia. When Jabir was a mere boy, Hayyan was arrested for his activity and had to pay with his life. Khurasan being the border province was a centre of foreign cultures like Mahayana Buddhism and other schools of mysticism. It may be pointed out in this connection that it was again at Tus, in Khurasan, where Imam Ghazali, one of the great Muslim mystics, was born. Above all, we find in Jabir one of the first persons to be formally called a Sufi and the first among Muslims to be recognized as the master of alchemy. Both alchemy and Sufism appear to come from the same source and to have long remained together. Some of those who have written upon the history of Sufism have noticed that in its early stages it flourished only where Neo-Platonism was found. Likewise, writers on the history of alchemy have also observed its earlier co-existence with Neo-Platonism.

While Sufism and Neo-Platonism can be directly and easily connected with each other, as pertaining to the same system of thought, it requires inquiring into what alchemy originally was in order to admit that alchemy did not develop from one craft to another, from gilding to gold­making, but was a kind of applied mysticism. The Sufis wanted immortality in the next world by spiritual exercises; the alchemists wanted it by virtue of drugs in this world. This motive at once becomes evident by a study of Chinese alchemy which represents its earliest phase. Instead of associating Islamic alchemy with Alexandrian Neo-Platonism it is more fruitful to connect it with Manichaeism and with schools of mysticism influenced by Chinese mysticism.

Khurasan, rather than Egypt, was the centre from where Islamic alchemy got its real initiation. Between Khalid ibn Yazid and Jabir bin Hayyan was a period of seventy-five years. Historically, the political power shifted from Damascus to Baghdad. At this latter centre the so-called Persian influence, but really Chinese-Manichaean doctrines, rapidly promoted Islamic alchemy. Those who compare Greek alchemy with that of Jabir notice an obvious difference between the two. If comparison is made between the doctrines and achievements of Muslim alchemists with those of China, the difference is very much less. In so far as even the alchemy of Alexandria is Chinese, though a degenerated form of it, it still has features enough for it to stand comparison with that of China.

With Jabir begins a school of alchemy much nearer to its original source, with its centre at Tus, instead of at Alexandria. The first feature to be noticed here is that the ideal seems to be not to make gold but to prepare panacean drugs. Jabir's reputation as a physician grew after the services he had rendered at the Court of Harun al-Rashid. His alchemical writings on the contrary were misunderstood even by a savant like ibn Khal­dun18 who remarked that they read like puzzles.

The effect of the chemical mysticism, which was alchemy, was demonstrated in the form of life-saving iksirs; the theory of applied mysticism was obtained from other systems of mysticism, such as Sufism and Manichaeism. The existing literature shows that alchemy proposed to make gold only and this seems to be true of Greek alchemy. The Arab alchemists, like the original Chinese masters, worked upon their preparations for making everything everlasting. When the omnipotent substance, iksir or kimiya, was applied to a base metal it became rust-proof and fire-proof, which meant it changed into gold. The same agent could also convert an ordinary stone into a permanent diamond. These features are not revealed in treatises on the history of alchemy and must be clearly pointed out.

Imam Ja'far al-Sddiq (81-148/700-765).-It will now be apparent how Jabir would venerate a master of mysticism like Imam Ja`far al-Sadiq, the sixth Imam, who lived like an internee at Baghdad. Of all the Imams he was the greatest mystic. He was deeply interested in alchemy and even composed treatises on the subject. Importance is attached to him here mainly because Jabir speaks of him as a Master and also because of the fact that alchemy and Sufism both aim at immortality. Since Jabir was both a Sufi and an alchemist, he could have received initiation from the Imam at least as a mystic. Ruska19 has edited a treatise attributed to the Imam and discussed his position in the history of alchemy, devoting an introduction of sixty pages to the problem.

Jabir ibn Hayyan (104-200/722-815).-Our knowledge of Jabir's life is very sketchy. He was born at Tus, in Khurasan, about 104/722. He became an orphan while yet a boy and was brought up in the tribe of his father, Azd, which lived in South Arabia. Then we suddenly find him as a man of middle age active as a physician at the Court of Harun al-Rashid and as a companion of Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq. His special patrons were Harun's viziers, the Barmakids, who really introduced him to the Court. When the Barmakids fell into disfavour in 188/803, Jabir, then over eighty years old, returned to Kufah where he used to live before coming to Baghdad.

The early life of the man, say from twenty to thirty-five, must have been spent in the pursuit of alchemy probably at Tus. If he had merely been born there he would have hardly been called al-Tusi. Another designation of his, al-Sufi, also sets us inquiring as to where he acquired proficiency in this field. With Tiis as a common centre for both Sufism and alchemy, the search is reduced to the minimum. When he left Baghdad immediately for Kufah, as an old bachelor, he could have hardly found people with whom he was familiar. Without relatives and surviving friends his life must have been that of a stranger and he must have migrated from Kufah to Tao where Sufism and alchemy were very much at home. According to one source, he died at Tus, in 200/815, which appears most probable, at the ripe age of ninety-three.

Two centuries after his death some houses in a part of Kufah where Jabir used to live were demolished. The house which he used to occupy was found to contain a mortar of solid gold weighing two pounds and a half which went to the royal treasury of the time. This archaeological finding gives much reality to the personality of Jabir with his many-sided features. Those who have been prejudiced in favour of Greek culture have nourished myths such as given by Thompson,20 who writes that “Jabir is said to have been either a native of Mesopotamia or a Greek who afterwards embraced Muhammadanism.” The fact that this theory originated from Suidas, who lived in the fifth/eleventh century, and continued to appear as late as 1351/ 1932, when Thompson published his book, indicates the persistence of pre­judice in favour of the Greek origin of alchemy.

The existing literature on the history of alchemy seems to be devoted mainly to textual criticism rather than to the subject proper. Hence, as late as 1353/ 1934 Hopkins21 recorded that “the fundamental work of fact-finding has been so difficult and time-consuming that no real history of alchemy has yet appeared.” The same judgment continued to be repeated, when Taylor22 wrote in 1371/1951 that “it may at once be said that alchemy still remains an unsolved problem.” And both these remarks apply even more forcibly to Muslim alchemy. We have not been told as yet what the Muslim alchemists were after and particularly what was meant by kimiya and iksir; whether they were identical or whether there was a subtle difference between them.

What the Europeans of the Medieval Ages got as alchemy was the system developed by the Arabs immediately before them so that observations upon the alchemy of any of these two apply to either. “Paracelsus taught,” as worded by Thompson,23 “that the object of alchemy was not to make gold, but to prepare medicines.” He is the founder in Europe of iatro-chemistry, but it is being maintained here that this has always been the character of alchemy and is best illustrated by the popularity Jabir enjoyed among his contemporaries. The fact that Jabir could indulge in the use of a golden mortar and yet live the life of a vegetarian, bachelor, and a Sufi-ascetic shows how he was not concerned with the making of gold as a source of wealth. The other observation is from Liebig. Chickashige24 writes, in this connection, that “the long history of alchemy clearly shows, as Liebig remarked, that alchemy was never anything else than chemistry proper to its own genera­tion.” If instead of “chemistry” and “iatro-chemistry” as above we use the more familiar and precise term, pharmaceutical chemistry, then both Liebig and Paracelsus would be expressing the same idea. Here again, Jabir's career fully confirms the remarks of Parcelsus and Liebig.

Among those who spared no energy to study the writings of Jabir may be mentioned the late Dr. Holmyard. He observes that “Jabir ibn Hayyan has many claims to be considered the first to whom the title of chemist may legitimately be applied.”25 Hopkins26 is even more eloquent in his tribute when he states that “... if all that has been deduced from the writings of Geber (the Europeanized name of Jabir) is true, he was one of the greatest single constructive influences in science, particularly in the science of metals, that the world has ever seen. Perhaps he should be ranked with Lavoisier for instituting a great revolution in the attitude of the educated people of his time towards the study of chemistry, especially in their attitude towards experi­ments.

Whereas, since the days of Aristotle, to soil one's hands with labour has been considered, except in Egypt, despicable and proper only for slaves, it is related that Geber had some success in teaching his friends at Court that laboratory methods are necessary and the only foundation for exact and reasonable science.” Respect to practical work which Jabir must have preached is confirmed by the converse having continued to exist even after­wards. Fuck27 explains that “al-Nadim had no high opinion of Alchemy or of its adepts.

Of a contemporary alchemist who was credited with having been successful, he tells us that he never found him otherwise than in straitened circumstances and dirty by reason of the chemical work he was in the habit of doing.” We can now appreciate the wealth of praise due to Jabir. Hopkins rightly showers praises upon Jabir, the Master, who infused into his people a spirit for experimentation which raised the status of Muslim alchemists so much above others that later historians, like Schneider,28 could admit that “it is certain that no other people have pursued alchemy with so much per­sistent zeal as the Arabs.” The special urge on the part of the Arabs to devote to alchemy would be apparent from what follows.

Kimiya.-Man's earlier medicines came from the plant world; herbalism was then the system of medicine. From this developed the notion that herbs could even make man immortal. The Aryans idealized the soma plant, the Iranians called it homa; the Chinese believed in the mushroom chip; and the Hebrews in the tree of life. Late in this period must be reckoned the belief in a gold-making-plant juice or kim-iya in the Hakka dialect of South China, the original of the Arabic term ki-miya.29

How Kimiya worked.-The ancient religion of man was animism. Every substance, including trees and stones, was believed to have a body and a soul, and to be alive potentially. The soul was a highly refined matter, like a perfume, and it came from the sun. It was more of energy than matter, like light, which, according to some physicists, has a corpuscular nature. The soul in turn was an emanation of the cosmic positive energy, called yang, in Chinese, meaning light, while in the universe there was also negative energy, called yin, meaning darkness. Matter was frozen yin energy, and it was difficult to convert matter into energy.

Matter and spirit could form only a temporary union or mixture. But if matter received the impact of an energizing principle it was changed into reactive negative energy which would then unite with the positive energy, and the result would be a real compound or a permanent union. Even a drop of the gold-making juice was taken to be bubbling with yang energy so that if a coin of copper was heated with it its ineffective soul was expelled and the material body or copper was transformed into negative energy, and it combined with the soul or positive energy from the plant juice to make the resultant gold. Here the donor is exceptionally rich in yang energy and the ultimate transmutation of metal is due to it.

Further, the donor belongs to the plant world. In countries like China and India, with their rich flora, alchemists did depend upon fresh herbs for the transformations they wished to bring about. This being denied to an alchemist like Jabir, he exploited mainly, if not entirely, minerals and metals instead; hence the importance given to inorganic raw materials and metals in the works of Arabian alchemists. Instead of kimiya, inorganic pre­parations called iksirs were used.

Ruh.-It is necessary to describe how the minds of the alchemists worked in preparing a simple substance such as rich (soul, spirit, or essence). Every substance, they must have felt, has a soul which remains like a tenant tem­porarily in the substance, the container of the soul. On heating the soul can be made to leave the body; on distilling the soul can be recovered more or less concentrated in the distillate. Thus a rose gives out its soul or ruh. The flower is now a dead body and the soul is its perfume or essence. When such an essence or rult is taken as a drug it temporarily strengthens the body of the user, like blood-transfusion or an injection of glucose. The donor here gives only one of the two elements; the material body, the flower, is discarded. When the soul of the flower is introduced into the body of an­other receiver it is like the temporary transmigration of the soul which must repeat at every stage if the soul is not to disappear in space.

Iksir.-Transmigration implies that the soul and the body do not come from the same source, the two are not permanently united, the balance be­tween the positive energy contained in the foreign soul and the potentially negative energy existing in its present container is not ideal. All that is re­quired is to convert the body into negative energy and reunite with it the soul previously separated from it. This is a regular art. For example, take common salt. It does not sublime. Now, if re-crystallized and mixed with alcohol, just as roses were mixed with water, and the mixture distilled, the essence of common salt evaporates along with the volatile vehicle, alcohol. The distillate is added again to the residual salt in the distilling vessel and the process of rectification is continued. A stage comes when all the salt becomes fluid, leaving no solid residue. This is the iksir of common salt.

The body, the material vehicle, has by now been converted into reactive energy, negative in character, and its soul, as the positive energy, has combined with it into an inseparable whole. Salt is a mixture of a material body, or of potential negative energy, and a soul, the positive energy. Its iksir contains a permanent union or compound of positive energy coming from the soul and reactive negative energy or the transformed material body.

Technically, two processes were most necessary: distillation in the first instance, to isolate the soul, the essence, or the positive element, and calcination, to purify the material vehicle, in order to convert the potential energy into the reactive negative element. Melting of metals is a very minor operation. In the case of an active gold-making plant juice, calcining of copper is limited to gentle heating. In the case of iksir of common salt no separate calcining is necessary, repeated distillation incorporates it. It is clear by now that rids or spirit contains one element only, the positive. Iksir contains two, the positive element and the negative one. Each of them belongs to the same substance and as such must necessarily contain enough quanta of both to balance like exact opposites or rather like exact supplements.

When iksir results, the substance becomes a spirituous preparation, sublimable, volatile, atomized, or potentized. Now being all energy, it represents a permanent union, inseparable for ever. When taken as a drug it makes the patient like itself, tending to become permanent. Naturally, according to the original substance, the total energy content in different cases differs and iksirs also vary in their pharmacological properties. In any case an iksir is stronger than the spirit or rich. Whereas kimiya is a natural substance, iksir is an artificial one. To meddle with the gold-making juice in any way would be to destroy its virtues, whereas iksirs can be pro­duced only by chemical processes, above all by distillation and calcination.

Because substances like common salt are made to distil along with alcohol, such heterogeneous mixtures as contained alcohol were probably called “elixirs” by European alchemists of the Middle Ages. It will be apparent why Jabir talked mostly, if not solely, of iksir and not of kintiya, its synonym. How iksir has been made to come from the Greek word, kseron, merely meaning dry, cannot be explained. By constitution iksir was taken to be the purified body with its soul returned to it. It was a revived body and a returned soul, where the two, on becoming identical, represented a third substance.

The picture was essentially the same as that of man after resurrection. The soul would return to the dead body which would revive and henceforward remain immortal. But the revived person would be a regular mutation, his body feeling neither thirst nor hunger. He would be like a spirit or ghost with a body no longer composed of matter. Iksir represents such a substance, material to look at but in fact become energy, and, what is important, also a donor of energy.

Whatever the substance iksir may have been, its uses mainly decide its virtues. Jabir prepared iksirs from one substance after another and as an indefatigable worker could not avoid studying the properties of inorganic acids into which he tried to dissolve his metals to purify them, instead of melting them alone or along with other metals. In India the metals were never purified by the use of inorganic acids but mainly by calcining them with boiled extracts of herbs. In order to have substitute a plant extracts or organic acids Jabir prepared inorganic acids not for their own sake but for making iksirs. His experiments spread over a wide range of substances. The preparations resulting from them must have maintained Jabir's enthusiasm and made him a master. Holmyard,30 a chemist and an author of standard text-books on chemistry, after a careful study of Jabir, rightly states that “like painting which reached its highest pitch of perfection while still in its infancy, Islamic alchemy never surpassed the level it attained with one of its exponents, Jabir ibn Hayyan.” We can represent him as a noble soul, seeing diseases all over, finding no herbs to treat them with, and so taking with a vengeance to minerals as the only source of supplying remedies. Enthusiasm born under such circumstances, incorporating the personality of the worker and the poverty of the country reacting upon it, resulted in the achievement with which the world today remembers the name of Jabir.

Those who do not know what iksirs mean, certainly not mere powders, cannot imagine the deep urge for or high aim in making them. At every stage we have to remember that Jabir was an ascetic-bachelor and a mystic-Sufi; acquisition of wealth or making of bullion gold could never have been his motive. In the absence of the right perspective much energy has been wasted in trying to separate historical data from Jabirian legends. What is still required is to isolate alchemy proper from Jabir's writings. Writers on alchemy, rather on Alexandrian alchemy, have rightly attached full importance to the early record of the word chemeia.

Likewise, in dealing with the history of Muslim contribution to alchemy we feel that the introduction of the word iksir played an even more significant role. Jabir apparently used it for the first time and demonstrated its claims. Paracelsus is credited with having founded iatro-chemistry or having taught that the real aim of alchemy was to prepare medicines and not to make gold. Jabir would have been surprised to hear that alchemy was anything but that, and his iksirs anything but highly potent, we may say, omnipotent and multipurpose drugs. Kraus31 has translated from Arabic into German a text revealing what iksir can prove to be; an extract from it has also been rendered into English by Holmyard.32 Harun al-Rashid’s ministers belonged to the Barmakid family.

One of them, Yahya, was much devoted to a lady in his harem. She fell ill. The case ultimately became so hopeless that Jabir was sent for. The report” as coming from Jabir himself maintains: “I had a certain elixir with me, so I gave her a draught of two grains of it in three ounces of vinegar and honey and in less than half an hour she was as well as ever. And Yahya fell at my feet and kissed them, but I said, `Do not do so, O my brother!' And he asked about the uses of the elixir and I gave him the remainder of it and explained how it was employed, whereupon he applied himself to the study of science and persevered in it until he knew many things.” Having demonstrated such a dramatic achievement it is impossible for any sane person to have found interest in making gold instead. Jibir's alchemy consisted only in preparing iksirs or wonder-drugs which were more precious than gold.

The Philosophers' Stone (Hajr Mukarram).-The preparation which marks the zenith of alchemical achievement is the Benevolent Stone (hair mukar. rang). The alchemists called themselves philosophers or Ilakima as opposed to physicians or,tabibs. The Alchemists' Stone was correctly paraphrased as the Philosophers' Stone. This is the genesis of the term. In the historical survey of the chemical arts of China by Li,33 we read that “Chin-tan, an alchemical term in Chinese, first appearing in Pao-p'u tzu (a work composed about 317-332 A. D.), comes to refer to a drug or elixir which was prepared by the alchemists for prolonging life and transmuting metals. It reminds us of the Philosophers' Stone because this was considered to have the same effect as Chin-tan.... The language of the ancient alchemists is very hard to understand [a con­fession recalling the judgment of ibn Khaldun upon Jabir]. It is supposed that Chin-tan may have consisted of mercury, sulphur, lead, etc., a com­pound or mixture prepared in accordance with a theory not unlike that of Jabir, who supposed that every metal contained mercury and sulphur.” The admission seems to be to the effect that the theory, that metals are com­posed of mercury and sulphur, did exist in China but in a vague form.

Taking the simpler notion first, with Jabir all metals including gold were composed of mercury and sulphur. Davis34 states that, “for the Chinese alchemists, positive yang was lead instead of sulphur; negative yin was mercury.” Jabir died in about 184/800. The Chinese alchemist, Chang Po-tuan,35 living later in 373-475/983-1082, still maintained the ancient Chinese theory that “our fellow workers must be able to recognize true lead and mercury.” It is, there­fore, clear that Jabir borrowed a theory as known to the Chinese but improved upon it, keeping mercury as the one element and changing the other from lead to sulphur.

The surprising feature of the Sulphur/Mercury theory about the origin of metals is that it has not been challenged by experimenters who have melted metals, calcined them, and even sublimated at least arsenic and mercury compounds. That they should have believed that iron consisted of sulphur and mercury, and that even gold consisted of the same elements, has received no explanation so far. The primitive man accepted blood as the life-giving principle and further believed that its red pigment was the real agent. Thus redness was taken to be the active principle so that any red substance could generate blood. Of all red substances cinnabar was the nearest approach to blood in colour.

When it was established by actual synthesis that cinnabar consists of mercury and sulphur, its elements came to be considered to be the elements of all metals. Animism assumed that even metals were living things, having a soul as well as a body. When negative energy freezes it becomes matter and the body of the metal consists of it. The soul is represented by the positive element, one which is sublimable so that it can permeate the material body. Lead is not volatile, sulphur is; hence the Lead/Mercury theory was essentially defective and the justification of the Sulphur/Mercury modification.

Further, lead and mercury do not produce a red compound, while sulphur and mercury do. But if Jabir's theory is a modification of a previous Chinese theory, how is it that in its original form it accepted lead and mercury as the elements of metals? What was required as the end-product was redness, and theorizing depended upon this result. Lead heated by itself oxidizes in the air to red lead or minium. Likewise, mercuric oxide is obtained as red, orange, or yellow powder, consisting of minute crystals. Thus, the Chinese theory was, indeed, properly conceived, but it failed to include a spirituous element like sulphur, while lead obviously was not.

Alchemy as a philosophical system is based on a dualism, postulating that everything consists of two elements, of light (yang in Chinese) and darkness (yin). When the metals were ascribed their constitution, sulphur and mercury came to be taken respectively as positive (yang)'and negative (yin) elements. And the realistic basis of this theory, as has been explained, came from the actual knowledge of what constituted cinnabar and the identification of cinnabar with blood. When the cosmic forces, yang and yin, are in perfect balance, it means yin exists as a negative creative energy and not as frozen matter, while yang naturally always remains spirituous; the result of their union is like that of two substances, identical in nature but oppositely charged, like positive and negative electricity.

The resultant is everlasting. Pure sulphur and pure mercury are imagined to be existing as energy, even though they may not appear to be so, and their resultant, when ideal or when the two are per­fectly balanced, means an everlasting union, which is gold. According to another tenet of animism, like makes like; gold, the everlasting metal, as a drug makes the consumer also immortal. Gold remaining in mines for millions of years loses this property of donation, its negative element, mercury, having become less spirituous or more material; hence gold, as a drug, must be freshly pre­pared.

Better still it must be in a stage prior to its becoming gold, so to say, in a nascent stage when it is the iksir of gold, a ferment-like substance which will convert any metal into gold. This is the Philosophers' Stone, converting matter into energy, energizing the material or the negative element until it comes to the same level as its positive or spirituous element.

We, thus, see that rich or spirit consists of only the positive element, the soul; and iksir consists of two elements, the positive element and the purified material element sublimated into reactive negative energy. Philosophers' Stone is double iksir; it consists of sulphur as a substance, which has a body and a soul (or failing sulphur, its substitute, say lead), and mercury as a substance, likewise with two elements of its own, its body and soul. In all, there are two purified bodies and two souls returned to their respective bodies.

The question now arises that if there are four elements compounded to form a fifth substance, why not another which is double that of the Philo­sophers' Stone. There are only four cosmic elements-heat, cold, dryness, and humidity. The body and soul of sulphur and the body and soul of mercury represent all these four cosmic elements; hence, between themselves, mercury and sulphur fully represent the cosmic force, the highest imaginable.

We have seen that Islamic alchemy was almost non-existent at Damascus. Baghdad produced its first two masters without whom there would perhaps have been no alchemy in the Islamic world. If alchemy at Damascus meant an importation from Alexandria, alchemy at Baghdad was an importation from Khurasan, which in turn was really an importation from China. Now two sub­stances used by Jabir reveal the alchemy which he borrowed and upon which he improved. Ammonium chloride has played a very important role in al­chemical preparations to which Stapleton36 devotes a special monograph.

From Holmyard37 we learn that Jabir's “is one of the earliest Arabic mentions of sal-ammoniac which for a time was imported from inner Asia. Jabir, how­ever, knew how to prepare it from organic matter.” Inner Asia is a vague term which makes it difficult for the reader to locate the actual source of the product. However, Stapleton38 explains that the Arabic word, nushadar, for sal-ammoniac, is a loan word-from Chinese. The origin of the product is thereby assured.

Another substance Jabir used is what he named khar sini. Holmyard39 comments, “Muslim writers say that it was used in China to make mirrors. According to Laufer, it was an alloy composed of copper, zinc, and nickel, known as pai-t'ung in Chinese, or white-copper.” Khar is salt and a loan-word in Arabic. It cannot be made to express any metal or alloy. An alloy compar­able with pai-t'ung is called bidri in India, consisting of copper, lead, and zinc in the ratios of 1:1:16. To give it a dark surface, sodium sulphate is used. A similar salt may be used for giving a metallic white surface to a different alloy of copper and zinc. In fact, it is easier to give it a metallic shine than to make it dull black. This salt of Chinese origin further points to the source of Jabir's alchemy.

Jabir being a mystic incorporates numerology into his alchemy, a fact discussed by some writers, above all by Stapleton40 According to him, the square with the nine cells was found as a motif near Nineveh as early as 4000 B.C. But in China also from at least the seventh century B.C., if not actually from the eleventh century B.C., the nine rooms of the square of the Imperial Temple had assigned to them the first nine numbers arranged in the actual order of these numbers in the simplest Magic Square. Even Jabir's numerology can thus be safely classed as Chinese in origin.

The Emerald Table of Hermes.-Among Jabir's writings, Holmyard first discovered in 1342/1923 the Arabic original of the famous Latin work bearing the above name. It deals with the phenomenon of change in nature, a typical Taoist idea, couched in phrases like those used in the following quotation from it: “That which is above is like that which is below and that which is below is like that which is above.” Such mystical statements are more deco­rative than illustrative in any other context.

Turba Philosophorum.-A Latin work of this title was very popular with European alchemists. It contained many names which were cited by Jabir in one of his books. On that account Ruska, in 1352/1933, proved that there should be an Arabic original of the Turba and this was confirmed by Stapleton by indicating that a fourth/tenth-century authority, ibn 'Umail (see later) quoted passages from it. Plessner having studied the problem exhaustively says, as quoted by Holmyard,41 that “it is the three-fold result of the cosmo­logical discussion, the Qur'anic Creator-God, the unified world, the four elements (heat, cold, dryness, and humidity) that gives the discussion its clear direction towards the chief subject of the Turba, alchemy.” From the contents of the two classical works of medieval alchemy, the Turba and the Emerald Table, incorporated in Jabir's writings, the reputation he enjoyed in the Middle Ages can be easily visualized.

Al-Razi (c. 251-313/865-925).-Engaged as he was in preparing elixirs, Jabir was called upon as a consultant to use them when ordinary drugs had proved ineffective. On the contrary, abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi, an account of whose philosophy has been given in Volume I (Chapter XXII) of the present work, was a physician by profession. At the age of thirty lie went to Baghdad, where the achievements of Jabir must have been narrated almost as miracles. Al-Razi could not but have been inspired by the tradition existing at Baghdad in favour of Jabir's elixirs. At Baghdad he decided to become a physician. As a Muslim alchemist he comes next only to Jabir. His fame in the medical world became so high that he was consulted when a hospital at Baghdad was being extended and ulti­mately became its chief physician.

Holmyard unwittingly remarks that “like the majority of physicians of medieval times, Razi was led to the study of alchemy.” In fact, alchemy has been nothing else but pharmaceutical chemistry and the physicians of those times had to prepare their own medicines. When Razi decided to become a physician he was probably attracted by the reports about elixirs. In other words, he became an alchemist first and a phy­sician afterwards. Among his writings only one book dealing with alchemy has reached us. It is entitled “The Book of the Secret of Secrets” translated into German by Ruska.42 “Stapleton,” says Holmyard'43 “places Razi on an intellectual level with Gallileo and Boyle.” There is an illuminating article on al-Razi and alchemy by Heym,44 where we read45 that “bodies are com­posed of invisible elements and of empty space that lay between them. These atoms were eternal and possessed a certain size.” The statement reminds us of the modern explanation of the structure of crystals.

Razi accepted Jfibir's Sulphur-Mercury theory of the constitution of metals but Heym says that “in the same way the attribute of salinity enters into Razi's scheme.” He com­ments at the same time that “without doubt it is here [with Razi] that the origin of the popular conceptions of alchemy with its three elements-mer­cury, salt, and sulphur-can be found which reappears later in Europe and plays such an important part in the history of Western alchemy.” Without mentioning Razi's name, Thompson46 writes, “This Sulphur-Mercury doctrine was accepted by most alchemists until about the twelfth century, when the theory was extended by the addition of a third elementary principle, to which the name “salt” was given.

It was believed to be a basic principle which gave solidity and resistance to fire. Mercury was considered to be the connecting link between the spirit and the body, and the element on which depended blood and life.” The source of the Sulphur-Mercury-Salt theory not mentioned in Thompson is revealed by Redgrove,47 who writes that “Isaac Hollandus appears to be the earliest known writer who makes mention (c. 1063/1652) of the famous Sulphur-Mercury-Salt theory.”

Thompson places the theory in the twelfth century; Redgrove, makes it seventeenth century; while Razi, the real author of it, lived in the third/ninth century. An explanation can also be offered as to how an alchemist of Holland came to be credited as the pro­pounder of this modified theory. Heym writes that “in Europe throughout the Middle Ages until the seventeenth century, Razi's works on medicine were still part of the curriculum at Dutch Universities.”

It has been casually indicated that alchemy as a system of thought is based on dualism which characterizes Manichaeism and which was at its best in China. At any rate, al-Razi was so much influenced by dualism that Heym says, “al-Razi was also called a Manichaean,” though he gives a different explanation for this appellation of his. Where Razi continued the tradition of Jabir, which rightly made an appeal to the judgment of Hopkins, was his love for practical work. Heym states that “even though al-Razi in his alchemy was not strictly empirical in our sense of the word, his great work mentioned above is a book of experiments; it is a book of practical alchemy.... There it can be said that al-Razi is the creator of a new alchemy for he seems to be the first to have transformed theoretical alchemy into a new strictly scientific system. Or, to be more definite, al-Razi transformed alchemy for the first time into a new and strictly scientific system.” To a practising physician and to one who was not a mystic like Jabir, it was practical phase of alchemy, which was inorganic pharmaceutical chemistry of the age that naturally appealed most.

Ibn Sinn (370-428/980-1037.)-Europeans in the Middle Ages had Latinized the names Jabir into Geber and Razi into Rhasis or Rhazes, and these easily passed on as those of their own masters in science and medicine. The greatest medical authority of the Muslim world was abu 'Ali Sina whose name was likewise adapted as Avicenna. Muslim physicians call him the Shaikh, meaning the Prince of Physicians. His career shows nothing revolutionary like that of Razi. He studied medicine in the routine way and became proficient enough to treat patients even by the age of sixteen. Being a genius he was called by one prince after another from Bukhara to Iran and served them even as a vizier. Enjoying Court life in every sense of the word, luxury above all, he could have hardly found time to experiment as a pharmacist. In his classic entitled the “Canon of Medicine,” some seven hundred and fifty drugs are mentioned, but they are all simples or individual drugs, vegetable, animal, and mineral in origin. None of them are of the class of high potency or synthetic inorganic chemicals, or iksirs. In his writings alchemy is discussed but critically. As a physician he did not use any iksir; it is out of question that he could have believed in a substance changing base metals into gold.

Ibn 'Umail (250-300/864-912).-In a short contribution on the subject such as this we have to be strict in selecting the representatives of Islamic alchemy. In doing so we have dealt with authors whose works were translated into Latin during the Middle Ages. These are, so to say, the masters who served as progenitors of European alchemy. Now, Davis48 has tried to prove by the common contents and even the common illustrations of the works on the subject that the alchemy of medieval Europe is almost identical with that of China. To connect European alchemy with that of the Chinese, it becomes necessary to place Islamic alchemy as the real connecting link between the two. It would at once explain a continuity of thought and give a complete sketch of the evolution of alchemy. As depicted at present, there seem to be at least two different systems of alchemy isolated and uncon­nected. For this reason we wish to mention one more author whose work was translated into Latin and printed in 1032/1622. He is ibn 'Umail. Stapleton49 and his colleagues have edited 'Umail's three Arabic texts and also the Latin translation in 1032/1622, along with copious notes which together make the presentation a model of scholarship. When we compare 'Umail's treatise with an original European work on alchemy, Splendor Solis, a classic in itself, by Solomon Trismosin,50 composed about 990/1582, we get the impression that the contents and even the style of presentation are the same in both the works. The influence of alchemical literature in Arabic on medieval European writers becomes thereby quite evident.

Our present contribution will serve its purpose better if we indulge in offering in modern phraseology what these alchemists were actually after. It is a problem of science to explain how one form of energy is converted into an­other, e.g., heat into light. Likewise, a far greater problem, but of the same category, is to explain how matter changes into energy and vice versa. Ibn 'Umail, like a typical alchemist, expresses this as follows: “Turn bodies into non-bodies and non-bodies into bodies.” Iksir was the energizing principle which could sublimate matter into energy. This was with regard to technique only. The aim was to energize the human body to make it immortal. When the soul is strengthened and the body merely reconditioned and not thoroughly purified, life is only prolonged. The agent that purifies the human body can purify the body of a base metal as well. With a purified body man mutates into an immortal being capable of flying about in the air, as Davis51 has clearly emphasized. With the purified body a base metal mutates into an everlasting form which is gold. Alchemical improvement ended in the per­manency of form. Thus, the active agent behaved in one and the same way, converting impure body into sublime energy, resulting in man's immortality and in the synthesis of gold. This is what ibn 'Umail actually meant.

Jildaki (d. 762/1360).-The last authority we propose mentioning here is Jildaki. One of his works, “End of Search,” has been the subject of detailed study by Dr. M. Taslimi of Teheran-a study which was accepted as a thesis for Doctorate by London University in 1954. Unfortunately, the thesis has not yet been published. But Holmyard52 summarizes it by saying, “That there is a great deal of similarity between the ideas contained in the quotations of Jabir given in the 'End of Search' and those found in the Latin works of Geber but the correspondence is not sufficiently close to establish a definite affiliation.” Our problem has been to find how, from author to author, alchemy has actually progressed. After al-Razi or at the most after 'Umail we find repetition of what had been said before in different words and with other illustrations. No wonder that Holmyard justly observes that “after Jildaki there is no outstanding figure in Muslim alchemy.”

Alchemy in Other Islamic Countries.-No writer to our knowledge has spoken of alchemy by Muslims outside the schools of Damascus and Baghdad. What about the impact of local schools of alchemy upon Muslims living in India, Burma, Indonesia, and elsewhere? Dr. Maung Htin Aung,53 Vice-Chancellor of Rangoon University, speaks as follows: “Some members (of the Burmese Science) association may (be) also (among those who) consider the Burmese alchemist to be a charlatan and an impostor. But I will plead with you to spare him a sigh. Of all the religious cults that existed in Burma before the advent of Buddhism, alchemy was the noblest. Like modern science, Burmese alchemy aimed at the conquest of nature, and discovering for suffering humanity a way to preserve the human body in its vigour and beauty.” Jabrian alchemy was certainly that and it is impossible to think that any two systems in­ corporating such ideas did not fuse.

Bibliography

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  • 1. F. Sherwood Taylor, The Alchemists, 1951, p. 28.
  • 2. J. W. Wilson, “Review of Taylor's The Alchemists,” Ban. Hist. Med., 1951, Vol. XXV, No. 397.
  • 3. J. Gildemeister, ' Alchymie,” Z.D.M.G., 1876, Vol. XXX, No. 534.
  • 4. Ibid. p. 538.
  • 5. F. Sherwood Taylor, op. cit., p. 68.
  • 6. Ibid., p. 71.
  • 7. P. Kraus, “Jabir ibn Hayyan,” Memoir” del' Inst. Egypte, Cairo, 1945, Vols. XLIV and LXV.
  • 8. J. A. Or. Soc., Vol. LXV, 1945, pp. 68-70.
  • 9. E. Wiedemann, “al-Kimiya,” Encycl. of Islam, Vol. II, p. 1010.
  • 10. E. J. Jurji, Illumination in Islamic Mysticism, 1938.
  • 11. P. Kraus, “Islamic Dogmatic Theology and Manichaeism,” al-Urwa, Bombay, 1: 34, 1947.
  • 12. W. A. P. Martin, “Alchemy in China,” Hanlin Papers 1880, p. 234.
  • 13. J. W. Fuck, “The Arabic Literature on Alchemy according to al-Nadim,” Ambix, 1951, Vol. IV, No. 81.
  • 14. J. Ruska, Arabische Alehemisten, I, Chalid Ibn Yazid Ibn Muawiya, Heidel­berg, 1924.
  • 15. W. A. P. Martin, op. cit., p. 234.
  • 16. H. H. Dubs, “The Beginnings of Alchemy,” Isis, Vol. XXXVIII, p. 62.
  • 17. W. Schneider, “Uber den Ursprung des Wortes 'Chemie',” Pharm. Ind., Vol. XXI, p. 79.
  • 18. Ibn Khaldun, The llugaddimah, tr. F. Rosenthal, Vol. III, 1958.
  • 19. J. Rusks, Arabische Alchemisten, 11, Galar Alsadiq, Heidelberg, 1924.
  • 20. C. J. S. Thompson, The Lure and Romance of Alchemy, 1932, p. 59.
  • 21. A. J. Hopkins, Alchemy, Child of Greek Philosophy, 1934, p. v.
  • 22. 22 F. Sherwood Taylor, op. cit., p. 16.
  • 23. C. J. S. Thompson, op. cit., p. 168.
  • 24. Masumi Chikashige, Alchemy and Other Chemical Achievements of the Ancient Orient, 1936, p. 1.
  • 25. E. J. Holmyard, “Islam and Chemistry,” Islamic World, Lahore, 1928, Vol. VI, p. 116.
  • 26. A. J. Hopkins, op. cit., p. 137.
  • 27. J. W. Fuck, op. cit., p. 84.
  • 28. K. C. Schneider, Oeschichte der Alchemie, reprinted, 1959, p. 82.
  • 29. W. Schneider, op. cit., p. 79.
  • 30. E. J. Holmyard, Alchemy, Pelican Book Series, 1957, p. 116.
  • 31. P. Kraus, “Studies zu Jabir ibn Hayyan,” Isis, Vol. XV, p. 22
  • 32. E. J. Holmyard, Alchemy, p. 70.
  • 33. Li Ch'iao-p'ing, The Chemical Arts of Old China, 1948, p. 16.
  • 34. T. L. Davis, “The Chinese Beginnings of Alchemy,” Endeavour, Vol. II, pp. 154-57.
  • 35. Chang Po-tuan, “Essay on the Understanding of the Truth,” tr. T. L. Davis and Chao Yun-ts'ung, Proc. Am. Aca. Arts & Sci., 1939, Vol. LXXIII, p. 104.
  • 36. H. E. Stapleton, “Salammoniac, A Study in Primitive Chemistry,” Mem. As. Soc. Bengal, Vol. I, No. 2, p. 41.
  • 37. E. J. Holmyard, Alchemy, Pelican Book Series, 1957, p. 78
  • 38. H. E. Stapleton, op. cit., p. 41.
  • 39. E. J. Holmyard, “Islam and Chemistry,” Islamic World, Lahore, 1928, Vol. VI, p. 78.
  • 40. H. E. Stapleton, “Probable Sources of the Numbers on Which Jabrian Alchemy was Based,” Arch. Int. Hist. Sci., Vol. XXII, p. 59
  • 41. E. J. Holmyard, Alchemy, p. 83.
  • 42. J. Rusks, Al-Razi's Buch Geheimnie der Geheimnisse, Berlin, 1937.
  • 43. E. J. Hoimyard, “Islam and Chemistry,” Islamic World, Lahore, 1928, Vol. VI, p. 87.
  • 44. G. Heym, “Al-Razi and Alchemy,” Ambix, 1938.
  • 45. Ibid. Vol. I, p. 184.
  • 46. C. J. S. Thompson, op. cit., p. 69
  • 47. H. S. Redgrove, Alchemy, Ancient and Modern, 1922, p. 54.
  • 48. T. L. Davis, op. cit., p. 154.
  • 49. H. E. Stapleton and others, “Three Arabic Treatises on Alchemy by Muham­mad Bin 'Umail,” Mem. Asia Soc. Bengal. Vol. XII, No. 1.
  • 50. E. J. Holmyard, “Alchemy in Medieval Islam,” Endeavour, 1955, Vol. XIV, p. 117.
  • 51. T. L. Davis, op. cit., p. 154.
  • 52. E. J. Holmyard, “Alchemy in Medieval Islam,” Endeavour, 1955, Vol. XIV, p. 117.
  • 53. Mating Htin Aung, “Burmese Alchemy Beliefs,” J. Burmese Res. Soc., Vol. XXXVI, Part 2, p. 91