This post is a long, full read - maybe wait til your coffee break to read it.
In the first century, a Greek doctor named Pedanius Dioscorides, wrote De Materia Medica. It was an incredible best-seller, read for over 1,500 years. This 5-volumne encyclopedia explains the medicinal uses of about 600 plants: a pharmacopeia. There are no known surviving original books - just the copies made by others through the centuries. This is the image that turns up most often:
According to the website Greek Medicine http://greekmedicine.net/whos_who/Dioscorides.html
“The presentations of every herb and medicinal substance in Dioscorides' herbal was very thorough. It included plant names, synonyms and illustrations; plant habitat and botanical descriptions; properties, actions and uses of the drug; negative side effects, if any; administration and dosage recommendations; directions on harvesting, preparation and storage of herbs or drugs; possible adulterations and how they're detected. Historically, it was the predecessor of all modern pharmacopeias." Here's another front page from a different copy:
De Materia Medica is the prime historical source for information about Greek and Roman medicines and records ancient Egyptian and Carthaginian names for some plants, which otherwise would have been lost. But since there is no original copy, we can't be sure that the original was illustrated (although, given all that detail, it seems likely that it was). Here are some of the many illustrations that have been copied /added to that original text:
If you go to this website: http://exhibits.hsl.virginia.edu/herbs/vienna-disocorides/ you can see several examples from the books, like this :
The 'prime historical source' for medical information certainly seems like it should be a part of my communication history! I did my usual photoshop simplification of the plants:
Then I took the vertical image from the front page, and hammered it into a square:
A real test of my photoshop skills - expanding the shelves & drawers on the left side and copying in a flipped version on the right.
There are no true likenesses of Dioscorides. Various artists used their imaginations (above). I liked these (below) best, and combined them to get my own Dioscorides.
I removed the 'PHARMACOPOEA' from the top of the page image, and played around with variations.
Here's the first full composition:
The eagle and snakes from one page are now sitting in the center of the other page. Dioscorides has an Arabic body and a European head. All nicely framed and ready to go! Print, paint and....
This is where I had gotten when The Great Wool Boiling of 2018 hit. I fully intended to sew it up. But when I finally returned to the tablets this summer, it just looked wrong. Those 2 critters in glass jars looked stupid. And the big red bird in the middle? Nooooo.
OK, back to the computer. Move things around. Play with those colors:
Print, paint and sew:
Happiness is successful art. This tablet captures the lushness of all that medicinal vegetation, the wealth of a fully-stocked pharmacy, overflowing with seeds, roots, pods.
And I stitched the name Dioscorides into his robe:
One of my old kitchen calendar towels has a border of plants:
I dyed it and will use it as a border around this tablet:
I am really happy with this one. It sings.
A lousy bluish photo taken on my computer chair, but that border works. Mounted on a stack of cloth.
Note: the term 'Materia Medica' has been hijacked into homeopathy. Homeopathy is an alternative medical system "created in 1796 by Samuel Hahnemann, based on his doctrine of like cures like, a claim that a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people would cure similar symptoms in sick people. Homeopathy is a pseudoscience – a belief that is incorrectly presented as scientific. Homeopathic preparations are not effective for treating any condition" says Wikipedia. Just so you know, OK?
Next week, another long tale of ancient materials!
Email me at Dianesavona@aol.com