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Baras arabice morfea mala fere incurabilis.


morfea ABC | morphea ef

mala ABC e | alba que f

fere om. e


Baras is Arabic for malignant morfea {"morphew"}, which is almost incurable.


Wehr (1976): ﺑﺮﺹ /baraṣ/ "leprosy".

In the Arabic literature ﺑﺮﺹ /baraṣ/ or with article ﺍﻟﺑﺮﺹ /al-baraṣ/, is a term often loosely translated as "leprosy". And on transmission to the European medical literature the term, adopted as albaras, took on a confusing variety of meanings. Simon obviously sees it as a form of "malignant morphea", { i.e. morphew = skin disease}. Although no clear distinctive definitions between leprosy and morphea were ever produced, on the whole leprosy was generally seen as affecting the flesh down to bone, whereas morphea affected only the skin and the flesh immediately under the skin. Cf. Latham (1973: 43), who quotes John of Gadesden’s Rosa Anglica seu Rosa Medicinae, ed. W.Wulff, London (1929: 85), v.1: morphea differt ab albaras quia morphea solum est in cute … sed albaras est in carne usque ad os {i.e. "morphea is different from albaras because morphea is only in the skin … whereas albaras is in the flesh down to the bone", translation by Wilf Gunther}. According to this view, baraṣ, defined as mala morphea, must be at least very similar to if not identical with leprosy.

Others define baraṣ as morphea alba, sometimes translated as "white leprosy", cf. Sinonoma Bartholomei [Mowat (1887: 10)]: albaras est morfea alba ut lac {i.e. "albaras is the white morphew, white like milk"}.

Latham (1973) himself suggests that albaras should rather be equated with vitiligo, and he continues: "The layman should note that leprosy, a bacillary disease, is quite different from vitiligo, a skin condition. Depigmentation, however, occurs in both with resultant imprecision in terminology. Medically qualified Arabic scholar (e.g. M. Meyerhof, H.P.J. Renaud) define baraṣ as vitiligo". … Leprosy is al-judhām. {cf. Wehr (1976): ﺟﺬﺎﻡ /ğuḏām/ "leprosy" < √ğḏm "to cut off, chop off".

Cf. Demaitre (2007).

Also: Vázquez de Benito (1989: 119-20).

Wilf Gunther 13/01/14

See also: Albaras, Licedone

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