[INDOLOGY] Ayurvedic query

Dominik Wujastyk wujastyk at gmail.com
Tue Mar 3 10:44:24 UTC 2015

My wife Dagmar kindly brought the Kew medicinal plants database to my
attention this morning.  I think this is probably an even better starting
point than the other resources I mentioned (but botanicus is still
wonderful for the scanned volumes):

   - http://apps.kew.org/mpns-portal/searchName



On 2 March 2015 at 14:07, Dominik Wujastyk <wujastyk at gmail.com> wrote:

> Dear Prof. Bhattacharya,
> Do you mean Saussurea lappa (Decne.) C. B. Clarke, or Saussurea lappa
> (Decne.) Sch. Bip.?  Are you ruling out Aplotaxis lappa Decne., or do you
> think it's the same thing?  If so, why?  But probably you mean Saussurea
> costus, (Falc.) Lipsch., no?  (last updated 28 August 2014, and syn. Aucklandia
> costus Falc.).
> What I'm getting at, in an ungraceful manner (sincere apologies!), is that
> one really, really can't just give out a name like "Saussurea lappa".  It's
> not a real botanical name, because no authority is given.  It's like a
> bibliography entry without authors or publication dates.   Also, it's been
> formally decommissioned
> <http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl/record/gcc-142953> as a botanical name,
> in favour of S. costus (Falc.) Lipsch.  It's not that easy to find this
> stuff out; it's a specialized field.  But I strongly recommend anyone using
> botanical terminology to use resources like
>    - http://botanicus.org
>    and
>    - http://www.ubio.org
>    and
>    - http://www.tropicos.org
> in the first instance, to get a handle on up-to-date nomenclature and
> authorities.  Botanicus offers a huge free library of scanned and indexed
> botanical publications from the fifteenth century onwards, that all are
> searchable and downloadable.  It includes many early works from India and
> Sri Lanka, and give a wonderful entry-point for finding images of plants by
> early engravers, and so forth.
> There are lots of other recent online resources for botanical
> nomenclature.  Some people love this stuff, and get quite OCD about it,
> which is helpful for us outsiders.
> I would also say that any identification of the type "Sanskrit plant X =
> Linnean plant Y" is not helpful.  There's so much confusion and error in
> this field, that it's vital in serious work to give some parameters for the
> identification.  Meulenbeld's appendices to his Madavanidana book give the
> very best available listing of the X = Y type.  But that is simply a record
> of what assertions have been made by people in the past.  What we require
> today is *reasons* for thinking that X=Y, and that might include historical
> correlations, medicinal use, pre-modern descriptions of form or colour,
> etymology of the name, cognates of the Sanskrit name still used in NIA
> languages, local knowledge (past and present), and so forth.  Also, plants
> mutate, and two thousand years is plenty of time for change, in
> evolutionary terms.  The time of simple uncommented lists of the form X=Y
> is past.
> I am almost as guilty as any: see the index of *Roots of Ayurveda*, which
> is just such an X=Y index.  I say "almost" because for that index, I did in
> fact collect extensive reference and comparison data of the type described,
> but I didn't publish it in the final book.
> </rant>  :-)
> Best,
> Dominik

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://list.indology.info/pipermail/indology/attachments/20150303/db0adea3/attachment.htm>

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list