Kitāb zuhrat al-bustān wa-nuzhat al-adhhān

Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Mālik al-Murrī, also known as Al-Ḥājj al-Gharnāṭī, better known by his geographical nisba Al-Ṭighnarī, was born into the noble family of the Banū Murra in the alquería of Ṭighnar just north of Granada some time during the second half of the 11th century. He was an accomplished poet and man of letters as well as an agronomist who wrote a remarkable agricultural treatise entitled Kitāb zuhrat al-bustān wa-nuzhat al-adhhān, ‘Book of the glory of the garden and recreation of the minds’. He served in the court of the Zirid prince ‘Abd Allāh ibn Bulughghīn (ruled 1073-1090) but left Granada for the ṭā’ifa kingdom of Almería, where he conducted various agricultural experiments in the royal gardens of the Al-Ṣumādiḥīya palace. Later, having made the pilgrimage to Makkah and travelled through various parts of North Africa and the East, he returned to Al-Andalus, alternating his residence between Granada and Seville, where he became part of Ibn Baṣṣāl’s circle of agronomists and botanists. We do not know the exact date when Al-Ṭighnarī wrote his Zuhrat, nor the date of his death, but he dedicated his book to the Almoravid governor of Granada Abū ’l-Ṭāhir Tamīm ibn Yūsuf ibn Tāshfīn who held office from 1107-10 and again from 1121-26. García Sánchez concludes that it was written in the first decade of the 12th century.

Though less than half the original work survives, Al-Ṭighnarī’s Zuhrat emerges as one of the clearest and most systematic of the Andalusi agronomical treatises. In general it follows the form and content of its predecessors but includes an astronomical and meteorological calendar, valuable linguistic, toponymic and botanical information, and, at the end of each profile on a particular plant or tree, a section on its properties, both beneficial and harmful, from a therapeutic and dietary perspective. The Zuhrat displays the depth and breadth of Al-Ṭighnarī’s knowledge, not only in agronomical science but also in linguistics, botany and medicine.

The sources cited by Al-Ṭighnarī are abundant, almost all identifiable, including Ptolemy, Hippocrates, Galen, Democritos, Dioscorides, Anatolius of Beirut, Qūsṭus, Al-Kindī, Hunayn ibn Isḥāq, Ibn Masawayh, Ibn Waḥshīya, Al-Rāzī, and among the Andalusian agronomists, Ibn Wāfid and Ibn Baṣṣāl. Their pronouncements are checked, analyzed, compared and then tested, on many occasions, against Al-Ṭighnarī’s own observations and practical experience. These, being localised in Grenada and its celebrated Vega, are of value in differentiating Grenadan agriculture and horticulture from that of Toledo in the Meseta and Seville in the Guadalquivir plain, where most of the other Andalusi agronomists lived. The Zuhrat, therefore, is very much both a theoretical treatise and a practical manual. In his turn, Al-Ṭighnarī is frequently cited by other Andalusian agronomists including Ibn al-‘Awwām (who refers to him as Al-Ḥājj al-Gharnāṭī , ‘The Pilgrim of Granada’), and Ibn Luyūn.

(Sources: Bolens 1981, p. 31; García Sánchez 1988b, pp. 279-91; García Sánchez 1992, pp. 990-91)


There is but one copy of the original text of Al-Ṭighnarī’s treatise (which, according to Ibn Luyūn, had twelve maqālāt or volumes and three hundred and sixty abwāb – chapters or sections) and only a little less than half of the complete work has come down to us. Nevertheless there are a large number of summaries, albeit incomplete, and also extracts quoted in the works of later agronomists, so it has been possible to reconstruct a synopsis of the original with reasonable certainty.

The preface or prologue (which may in fact have been written by one Ḥamdūn al-Ishbīlī) discusses general matters concerning agriculture, some of a legal nature – on irrigation, contracts, etc. Then the author presents his methodology, which is to collect the pertinent views of previous authors.

After the prologue and the title of the work, the treatise begins with an agricultural calendar of an astronomical and meteorological nature which includes references to magic, local traditions, the experiences of farmers, etc. (fols. 7r - 16v C). It does not detail the schedule of agricultural tasks as thoroughly as does the ‘Calendar of Cordoba’ or the calendar contained in the treatise of Ibn al-‘Awwām, or the one attributed to Ibn Wāfid. It bears a striking resemblance to that of Abū ’l-Khayr.

Folios 16v-19v C. Soils: the nature of the ground; ascertaining its fertility by its colour; the types of soils appropriate for each crop.

Folios 19v-23r C. Manures and fertilizers: types suited to each plant and soil.

Folios 23r-28r C. Hydrology: the different kinds of water; methods for assessing its proximity or remoteness.

Folios 28r-29r C. Brief recommendations, very similar to those given by Ibn al-‘Awwām, on the factors, both physical and moral, that should be considered when choosing workers and farm managers.

Folio 29r C. The signs of unlucky days, among the Jews, on which certain agricultural tasks could not be done.

Folios 29r-32v C. A series of general practical rules for farmers: land types most suitable for each crop, optimum times for sowing, the treatment of pests, and ways to suppress weeds.
Folios 32v-39v C. Domestic economy: the preparation of vinegar, various types of almorí, cheese, butter, curd, syrup, pickles, and the preservation of various fruits.

From this point (the section on plant propagation) the Algerian manuscript, what exists of the original text that is, begins, i.e. at the end of Chapter 36 (of 79 contained in the complete Maqāla IV). The substance of this text is generally followed in the Cordoban manuscript, but summarized and not always in the same order, especially in the first two maqālāt, i.e. IV and V.

Maqāla IV. Folios 1r-39v A. Propagation and Cultivation: the propagation of various trees and shrubs by cuttings, layers, grafts and seedlings, including the pomegranate, peach, plum, cherry, fig, jujube, olive, rose, palm, banana and sugar cane; treatment for the prevention and cure of their diseases and pests, as well as the care and methods needed to cultivate them successfully. At the end of the section devoted to each plant, the author notes its medicinal and nutritional value, giving the opinions of various authors as well as his own.

Maqāla V (27 chapters). Folios 39v-58r A. Propagation of various trees and shrubs by seed, stone or pit: date palm, myrtle, jasmine, citron, orange, lemon, citrus of Estepona, apple, plum, quince, fig, mountain ash, chestnut, almond, pistachio, peach, azedarach, laurel and carob, among others.

Maqāla VI (21 chapters). Folios 58r-75v A. This maqāla is dedicated to vine cultivation: choice of land for growing vines; preparation of the soil; crops that can profitably be grown among vines; best times for planting, distinguishing between those for irrigated and unirrigated land; the various tasks required in the vineyard; ways to make trellising and supports for vines; manuring and irrigation; repelling bees and wasps from the vineyard; ways of preventing grape rot, etc. The length of this maqāla dedicated to a single crop, nearly 20 pages, confirms the importance of viticulture at this time.

Maqāla VII (12 chapters). Folios 75v-87v A. Grafting and all there is to know about it: selection of shoots for grafting; types of graft; a description of the tools used in grafting; the sympathy of some trees to others in relation to grafting; detailed instructions on performing the different kinds of graft: the saw graft (našar), notch graft (šiqq), tube graft (qanūṭ), shield graft (tarqī‘), also known as the Roman graft, and finally, the bored graft (barrīna). There follows a discussion on grafting trees or shrubs onto other species, such as the rose on almond, peach on willow, vines and other soft fruit onto apples, among many others.
Maqāla VIII (12 chapters) Folios 87v-96v A. The distillation of rose-water, with a description of the entire process, from the construction of stills and pipes (qawādīs) to choosing the best varieties of roses and the most appropriate type of fuelwood, the temperature of the water necessary for distillation, and the storage of the rose-water in suitable containers. Finally, there is a series of instructions on preparing other kinds of flower-waters - from the lily, orange, violet, basil and clove. Ibn al-‘Awwām dedicated a long chapter in his book to this matter, some passages of which are identical to those that appear in Al-Ṭighnarī, although he does not acknowledge this.

Maqāla IX (48 chapters) Folios 96v-126r A.  The purpose of this maqāla, in the words of the author, is to explain everything that one needs to know in relation to the planting and cultivation of various cereals, vegetables and garden plants. The scheme applied is the same as that followed previously in relation to trees and shrubs. Included are wheat in its various types – white, red and black wheat or buckwheat – rice, barley and other coarse grains – rye, sorghum and millet, among others – legumes such as beans, chickpeas and lentils, fibrous plants such as hemp, flax and cotton, dye plants such as henna and safflower, and others used as condiments including cumin, caraway, anise and fennel. It continues with the cultivation of vegetables, both irrigated and rain-fed, including turnips, radishes, onions, leeks and garlic. There is a digression to discuss the cultivation of saffron and then it continues with carrots, orach, purslane, spinach, cabbage, cucumbers and lettuce. The summaries, like the complete original text, also end with the growing of vegetables, although some add one or two more. There should be, as in other agronomical treatises, a final section devoted to animal husbandry and veterinary medicine, comprising three more maqālāt. Ibn al-‘Awwām, however, does not anywhere cite Al-Ṭighnarī in his chapters on animal husbandry, though this means little as he is known to quote almost verbatim at times without mentioning the source.

(translated from García Sánchez 1988b, pp. 279-291)

Published Editions & Translations

  • Al-Ṭighnarī, Muḥammad ibn Mālik (2006). Kitāb Zuhrat al-bustān wa-nuzhat al-adhhān (Esplendor del jardín y recreo de las mentes). Edited (with introduction) by E. García Sánchez. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas.
  • Dr. Expiración García is working on a Spanish translation which is scheduled to be published in 2010.
    • “Although this work reflects most directly and specifically the reality of agriculture in Al-Andalus, it also entails the greatest difficulties in its critical edition. We have only one copy of the original, which covers a little less than half of the original text, which is to be found in ms. nº 2163 in the General Library of Algiers. However, there are nineteen copies of the summary of this text, apart from another missing one, therefore we have had to select the copies to be used in the edition. All of these copies have an introduction that cannot be the work of Al-Ṭighnarī for a series of reasons set out in other documents... So we have edited this first part, which is missing in the original but which appears in all the copies, according to the latter. The most difficult problem arises when the summary reaches the beginning of the original text, which from this stage becomes the basic manuscript and is logically much longer than the copies of the summary. We are therefore producing two parallel editions, one on the actual body of the edition and the other on the notes to it. These difficulties, among others, account for the delay in the publication of the edition.”
(Source: Carabaza Bravo & García Sánchez 2001 and 2009)


The only copy of the original text of Al-Ṭighnarī’s Zuhrat:

  • Bibliothèque Nationale, Algiers, nº 2163.
    • This copy of the original only preserves somewhat less than half of the complete work, with a total of 126 folios, from the end of bāb 36 of maqāla IV, to bāb 48 of maqāla IX, about 160 chapters in total (García Sánchez 1988b, p. 282). See more on this manuscript

  • Bibliothèque Nationale, Algiers, nº 2162
  • Faculté des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines, Rabat, nº 239.
    • References to these latter two manuscripts are included in the article by Ṣāliḥīyya 1984, p. 568.
  •  Bibliothèque Générale, Rabat, nº 39 D (Levi-Provençal 1921, p. 185)
    • Copied in the late 19th century. It comprises 109 folios, each with 25 lines, in maghrebi script. This copy of the summary, like others, is attributed in the copy to Abū ‘Abd Allāh Ḥamdūn (or Ibn Ḥamdūn) al-Ishbīlī and therefore it cannot be Al-Ṭighnarī as some have claimed. Perhaps he is the author of the summary, although we cannot provide any biographical data on him other than the fact that he did not live prior to the 14th Century (García Sánchez 1988b, pp. 284-285).
  • Bibliothèque Générale, Rabat, nº 344 D (Lévi-Provençal 1921, p. 185)
    • According to the copy, the author is anonymous. The date of the copy is given as 29 sha‘bān 1293/18th September, 1876. It consists of 111 folios, each with 19 lines in maghrebi script (García Sánchez 1988b).
  •  Bibliothèque Générale, Rabat, nº 1260 D (Allouche & Regragui 1958 , II, pp. 273-274)
  • Bibliothèque Générale, Rabat, nº 1579 D (Allouche & Regragui 1958, II, pp. 274).
  • Bibliothèque Générale, Rabat, nº 1410 D, folios 105v-130v.
  • Bibliothèque Générale, Rabat, nº 617 j, pp. 1-269.
  • Bibliothèque Générale, Rabat, nº 1674 K
    • Attributed to Ḥamdūn al-Ishbīlī.
  • Bibliothèque Royale, Rabat, nº 1534, folios 1r-109v (Al-Khaṭṭābī & ‘Inān 1982, p. 227).
  • Bibliothèque Générale, Tetuan, nº 545.
  • Bibliothèque Générale, Tetuan, nº 584.
  • Bibliothèque Générale, Tetuan, nº 613 (Anonymous Catálogo 1973, p. 81).
  • Manuscript belonging to M. ‘Azīmān, Tetuan (Millás Vallicrosa 1954, pp. 131-134)
  • Archivo Municipal, Córdoba, nº IV (Zaidi 1959-1960,  p. 108)
    • An undated manuscript copy attributed in the catalogue to “Abu Abdel’ Lah Mohamad Ibn Malik At-Tagnari known also as El Hach Granadino and as Ibn Hamdun el Sevillano”. Very old, according to the author of the catalogue, although the calligraphic characteristics appear to be those of the 13th, or at the latest, the 14th century. It consists of 114 folios, with 20 lines per page, written in maghrebi script (García Sánchez 1988b). See more on this manuscript
  • Biblioteca de El Escorial (Collection of Ancient Books), Madrid, nº 11
    • Catalogued as ‘Aben Malich de Taaza’ (Ibn Mālik al-Ṭa‘azī), Volume 1 of the “Book of Agriculture”, comprising four first books of the twelve written. Morata (1934, pp. 105, 145) thinks this is one of the manuscripts which disappeared in the fire which destroyed part of the Escorial Library.
  • Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, nº 7023.
    • The first of these two copies in Paris is much deteriorated and in poor condition, in fact almost illegible. It is attributed to Ḥamdūn al-Ishbīlī.
  • Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, nº 7069 (Sauvan et al.1987, p. 17)
    • A recent note in this copy claims that “In spite of Colin’s attribution to Ṭighnarī on the cover, this text must be the anonymous ‘Umdat al-abīb, which is totally erroneous (Carabaza et al. 1991, II, p. 1123). See more on this manuscript
  • The Fez Edition of Miscellaneous Andalusi Agricultural Texts (pp. 85-144)
    • Fragments of the Zuhrat al-bustān are collected in this edition, published in Fez, of an agricultural treatise attributed to Abu-l-Khayr al-Ishbīlī, which is really a miscellaneous work. See Fez Edition
(Sources: Carabaza Bravo & García Sánchez 2001, pp. 101-118; Carabaza Bravo & García Sánchez 2009, n.p.; García Sánchez 1988b, pp. 279-291).


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