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News and Events

Medical Humanities in China – conference

An international interdisciplinary conference at Peking University Institute for Medical Humanities, 15-17th October, 2015, jointly convened by UCL and PKU

A unique opportunity to learn Chinese Sign Language at UCL!

学中国手语!Short intensive introductory immersion course spread over 6 days, 13–24 July More...

Hot and Numb! 2000 years of Sichuan pepper

Saturday 13th June, 12.00 midday, The Spice Exchange, Kew Gardens. As part of the Kew Full of Spice Festival 2015, Vivienne Lo (UCL CCHH) will give a presentation on the history of Sichuan pepper, its medical and culinary uses. More...

Film and Discussion: When China Met Africa

Wednesday 20 May, 6.30pm, Roberts 106, UCL. FREE – part of UCL Festival of the Arts 2015. Book via Eventbrite.

Lady Precious Stream

A symposium on S. I. Hsiung's 1934 play, and the obstacles to and opportunities for East Asian voices in UK theatre and literature. Monday 18 May, 6.30–8pm, Anatomy JZ Young LT.

Call for Chinese-speaking choral singers!

London Chinese Philharmonic Choir 伦敦华人爱乐合唱团 (LCPC) is looking for additional singers to perform the Yellow River Cantata 黄河大合唱 in September/October 2015. More...

5th Annual Chinese Visual Festival

7–22 May 2015, at King’s College London, BFI Southbank, Bertha DocHouse and Chelsea College of Arts. The festival will welcome to London some of the most exciting directors currently working in Chinese-language cinema and art. More...

The Chinese Erhu during the First World War

An evening of performance and discussion with Dr Colin Huehns. Friday 8th May, 7pm, UCL South Cloisters More...


Sir Henry Wellcome Asian Series


The Sir Henry Wellcome Asian Series was established in 1995 in order to make available fine editions of the medical and scientific classics of Asia. The primary aim is to publish texts in their original languages, such as Chinese, Arabic, and Sanskrit. The Series also publishes translations of such editions into English, French or German. Additionally, the Series includes works that cover philological, biographical and bibliographical aspects of the field, and other works that promote knowledge of the textual basis of the subject, covering all periods up to modernity.

It is the view of the editors of the Series that for progress in understanding the history of Asian medicine and the allied sciences it is necessary to have access to critical editions of the surviving manuscripts and pre-modern books, in their original languages. Without such a firm textual basis, historical scholarship is built on an unsure foundation. The Series exists to provide readers with a reliable source of such works, and to provide text editors with a channel through which their specialized works may be published.

As well as strictly text-based publications, the series also welcomes high-quality secondary literature from a wide variety of disciplines and methodologies, including history, social sciences, and economics, provided they are solidly founded on clearly identified primary sources, and in some way illuminate such sources and their meaning for medical and scientific history. The series editors encourage scholars to embed their works in the wider context of history of science and medicine.

The Series is named after Sir Henry S. Wellcome (1853–1936) who did so much in his lifetime, and afterwards through the Trust that bears his name, to support and stimulate the study of the history of medicine. The series is supported by the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL, London, and the Institut für Geschichte der Medizin, Munich.

The founding editors of the series were Prof. Paul U. Unschuld, Dr Dominik Wujastyk and Prof. Lawrence I. Conrad. Prof. Lutz Richter-Bernburg served for several years on the editorial board, as did the late Prof. Ronald Emmerick.

The series is currently published by Brill Academic Publishers, who have offices in Leiden, Boston, and Tokyo.

Recent Volumes

Practical Materia Medica of the Medieval Eastern Mediterranean According to the Cairo Genizah
Efraim Lev and Zohar Amar

This volume uniquely looks into the practice of medical care in the medieval world, particularly amongst the Jewish communities of Egypt. It examines the medicinal prescriptions, lists of materia medica and letters between physicians, pharmacists and patients found in the Cairo Genizah. Most histories of medieval medicine of the eastern Mediterranean are based upon theoretical Arabic writings. Here the authors examine, analyze and contextualize these medieval prescriptions also from the perspective of ethnobotanists, and as a result, provide an innovative insight into the everyday practice of medieval medicine and the historical use of the medicinal substances in the Medieval Mediterranean world.

The result is a much needed contribution to medical-historical scholarship interested in the everyday practice of medicine of the common people of the medieval period.

Arabic Medical Manuscripts of the Wellcome Library
Nikolaj Serikoff

This is a first part of the new catalogue of medical manuscripts preserved in the Wellcome Library. It serves not only as a guide to the collection of the manuscripts, purchased by the Wellcome Library in 1986, but is also an independent research tool, which can be used by various specialists: librarians, historians, paleographers, art historians, conservators, etc. This catalogue comprises detailed indices and many illustrations on cd-rom, which help researchers to consult in detail each codex prior to coming to the Wellcome Library in London to consult the manuscript per se.

The Medicinal Use of Opium in Ninth-Century Baghdad
Selma Tibi

This book examines the knowledge and therapeutic use of opium and various species of poppy by physicians in ninth-century Baghdad (the leading medical centre then) as seen in key works by six outstanding physicians, with reference to others.

The study opens with a brief look at early Islamic knowledge of the Graeco-Roman use of opium, while examining in detail entries on opium and poppy in the Arabic version of Dioscorides’s influential and fundamental Materia medica. The core of the study aims to establish to what extent and how opium and poppy are used in the selected books of the six physicians.

The comprehensive glossaries of Materia medica, Ailments and Conditions, and General Terms are particularly useful for the medical historian.

Medicine, Public Health and the Qajar State
Hormoz Ebrahimnejad

The starting-point for this volume is a previously unstudied nineteenth-century Persian text concerning hospital reform, and of great importance for understanding the history of medical care in nineteenth century Iran. The volume provides surprising new insights into the interrelation of medical practice, public health and politics in Qajar Iran.

Rather than showing a straightforward replacement, it reveals that Western medicine was assimilated through dialogue into traditional medical systems. It argues that institutional changes preceded intellectual transitions insofar as the first reforms in the medical system were implemented at an institutional level as part of the development of the Qajar state and with the active involvement of traditional court physicians. Full edited text with translation and commentary.

Questions and Answers for Physicians
Translated, Edited, and with an Introduction by Gary Leiser and Noury Al-Khaledy

This is a translation and edition of the medieval Arabic medical work entitled Imtihan al-alibba' li-kaffat al-atibba' ["The Experts' Examination for All Physicians"]. It is a study guide for students of medicine prepared by Abd al-Az?z al-Sulami who was chief of medicine to the Ayyubid sultan in Cairo between 596/1200 and 604/1208. It is composed of ten chapters on ten fields of medicine: the pulse, urine, fevers and crises, symptoms, drugs, treatment, ophthalmology, surgery, bonesetting, and fundamentals. Each chapter contains twenty questions on the respective subject with the answer to each question. In addition an authority is cited for each answer. This work sheds light on medical education in the medieval Middle East and is an epitome of the medical knowledge of the time.

Catalogue of Jyotisa Manuscripts in the Wellcome Library
David Pingree

The renowned Wellcome Library houses a number of – often literally – unique and rare Sanskrit and Indian vernacular manuscripts, collected by Sir Henry Wellcome himself in the early twentieth century.

The present catalogue by David Pingree is the first guide to the important Wellcome collection of manuscripts containing texts on jyotihsastra, which includes astronomy, mathematics, divination and astrology, and covering well over a thousand manuscripts.

Descriptions feature information, e.g., on scribes, owners and their families, thus providing much that will prove useful for those studying not only Sanskrit scientific manuscripts themselves, but also their creation, distribution and preservation. A true treasure-trove.

Conjugal Love in India
Kenneth G. Zysk

The purpose of Ratisastra was to provide instruction and advice to young Hindu couples before and after they cohabit as a couple. The desired outcome of lovemaking has always been, according to Hindu law and custom, the production of male issues. Conjugal love or “Ratisastra” is the means to assure that auspicious result.

Kenneth Zysk’s Conjugal Love in India is a study of traditional Hindu ideas about love in the domestic abode, and deals with the two principal Sanskrit treatises on the subject, Ratisastra and Ratiraman?a. These two works, leaving no stone unturned, cover every aspect of conjugal life, from the finding and selection of a suitable pair to procreation. With an introduction that situates the doctrine of conjugal love (ratisastra) and the texts that explain it in the history of brahminic scholasticism.

This work will help to elucidate aspects of Indian history and culture in the medieval and modern periods, and will provide a good basis for comparative studies with similar themes in other cultures.

Earlier Volumes

Click here to see a list of earlier books not published by Brill.

Information for Authors

The editors of the Sir Henry Wellcome Asian Series are always interested in hearing about potential new titles for the series. If you have written a book which you think would fit into the Series, please contact us at any of the addresses below. If you have not yet written the book, but have a project which would result in a publication illuminating the textual sources of Asian scientific and medical traditions, the editors may be able to advise on possible sources of funding, such as the Wellcome Trust.

All books offered to the Series are academically refereed by an appropriate independent subject specialist.

As early as possible, please take advantage of the resources offered by the series publisher. Brill offers several important aids for authors, including advice on how to submit a manuscript proposal, and the Brill's Guide for Authors and Editors by Pim Rietbroek. Brill will also require you to fill out their manuscript questionnaire. These materials are available on line at their website.

Editors and Editorial Board

Editors Editorial Board
Prof. Charles Burnett,
The Warburg Institute,
Woburn Square,
London WC1H 0AB,
Guy Attewell
French Institute of Pondicherry,
11 Saint Louis Street, P.O. Box – 33, Pondicherry – 605 001 India
Dr. Dominik Wujastyk,
Wellcome Trust Centre for the
History of Medicine at UCL,
183 Euston Road,
London NW1 2BE
Prof. Christopher Z. Minkowski,
Balliol College,
Oxford OX1 3BJ,

Prof. Dr. P. U. Unschuld,
Institut für Geschichte der Medizin der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität,
Lessingstraße 2, München 80336,
Prof. D. J. Harper,
University of Chicago,
Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations,
1050 E. 59th Street, Chicago, IL, 60637,
  Dr Vivienne Lo
China Centre for Health and Humanity
Department of History
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT

Page last modified on 27 may 11 22:06 by Helen Matthews